Amos 8:11
Behold! the days are coming," declares the Lord GOD, "when I will send a famine on the land--not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.
Sermons
FamineWilliam Jay.Amos 8:11
Famine of the Word of GodJ.R. Thomson Amos 8:11
Religious SincerityHomilistAmos 8:11
Soul FamineHomilistAmos 8:11
Spiritual FamineJ. Parker, D. D.Amos 8:11
Spiritual FamineHugh Stowell, M. A.Amos 8:11
Spiritual FamineT. S. H. Tyng, D. D.Amos 8:11
The Dreadful Consequences of Spiritual FamineEssex RemembrancerAmos 8:11
The Uses of AdversityBishop Lightfoot.Amos 8:11
The Word of the LordR. W. Forrest, M. A.Amos 8:11
The Worst StarvationJ. R. Miller.Amos 8:11
Soul FamineD. Thomas Amos 8:11-13


There are many blessings which are not suitably valued until they are withdrawn and missed.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.

II. A FAMINE OF THE WORD OF GOD IS TO BE DREADED AS DETRIMENTAL TO SPIRITUAL LIFE AND WELL BEING.

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, that I will send a famine in the land.
If adversity tried and sifted men, prosperity tried and sifted them much more. Where adversity slew its thousands, prosperity slew its tens of thousands. Poets and moralists had dwelt on the sweet uses of adversity: the misuses and abuses of prosperity would furnish a far more eloquent theme. Adversity was a bitter medicine, but it was in vain to think that health could be preserved unless it were administered at one time or another. And as it was with individuals, so was it also with large masses of men. The severest trial to the morality of a people was a long period of prosperity; the most efficient instrument in the purification of a people was the sharp attack of adversity. Such at least was the lesson enforced upon Israel in the days of Amos the prophet. Never since the secession of the ten tribes had the material welfare of the nation been greater. Under two vigorous monarchs it had recovered from all its recent disasters, and had attained to somewhat of its pristine greatness. The reigning sovereign, the second Jeroboam, had largely extended the frontiers by foreign conquests; his armies had everywhere been victorious; there was wealth and plenty at home. King and people alike might well have congratulated themselves on the present condition of the nation. It was just at this crisis that the prophet Amos appeared on the scene. But though it was in a season of unexampled prosperity, the prosperity of Israel was not the burden of his message; though the armies of Jeroboam had been signally triumphant, he poured out no congratulations over these triumphs. His whole prophecy was one prolonged wail, one unbroken elegy, the funeral dirge of a dying religion, a falling dynasty, and an expiring kingdom. For prosperity was then doing its work. Luxury, revelry, and pleasure were rampant; commercial morality was low, petty frauds in trade were rife; the laws were administered for the advantage of the powerful; the poor were ground down by the tyranny of the rich. A stern moralist might have found much to lament and denounce in the vices of the age; a far-sighted politician, drawing upon long experience, might have discerned from these elements of social disorder the symptoms of a disease which, if not arrested in time, would lead to the ultimate ruin of the state. But the prophet, with a keener eye and a wider range of wisdom, firmly and unhesitatingly pronounced the result — in the very midst of the triumph of armies, in the very flush of successful self-complacency, he announced the catastrophe as imminent — "It shall come to pass, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear sky; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor of thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." Prosperity had carried away the hearts of Israel from the true religion of their God, and it needed the deep uses of desolation and captivity to chasten them and call them back. For, first, the worship of Israel had degenerated into a religion of political expediency, a religion of conventional life; it had adapted itself to the exigencies, ay, and to the vices, of the age. It looked complacently upon the luxury, the oppression, the indolence, the carelessness, the dishonesty which prevailed on all hands; it had no word of hope, no thought of remedy for the startling social evils of the time; the overflowing wealth here, the grinding poverty there. Secondly, the religion of Israel was formal and material; it was not thought of except in an outward and material sense in the days of prosperity; and when in their captivity and heavy trials their hearts turned to it seeking solace, instead of finding comfort and help, they saw only a vague and indistinct shadow.. The experience of Israel was the experience of all who worshipped after Israel's manner. In the moment of trial they sought the Word of God, and could not find it. They did not seek their Father's presence when their course was smooth and even, and in their hour of danger it was withdrawn from their eyes. Whatever some men might say, their factories, their workshops, their shipping, and their coalpits, even their museums and their lecture rooms, could not supply the deepest wants of men. The highest instincts of their nature were left hungering still. The church therefore rose up as a local centre, round which the spiritual affections and life of the neighbourhood gathered. God grant that a blessing might rest upon their work that day.

(Bishop Lightfoot.)

Whether these words apply to the past, or refer to the future, their awful solenmity is undiminished; the existence of tremendous power is implied. These are the utterances of a Mind whose purposes are fully settled. There is an awful determinateness about this language. The Speaker, whoever He may be, is not to be trifled with. He asserts His sovereignty over the physical and the spiritual alike. He says, "I will send a famine upon the land; every root shall be withered up," etc.

I. A revelation of the Divine will constitutes man's richest blessing. In the text it is referred to by implication as food. Its withdrawment is compared to a famine. Hence, also, Jesus Christ reveals Himself as the "bread of life," the "Bread sent down from heaven," and "the meat that endureth to life everlasting." "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." As this natural bread is fitted to sustain these physical functions, so the spiritual bread is indispensably necessary to the prolongation of this spiritual life. We are entitled, therefore, to argue that a revelation of the Divine will constitutes man's richest blessing. This is proved —

1. By the intellectual satisfaction arising from harmony with the Divine will. The mind can rest in God; short of God it is restless. In God it enjoys the serenest calm. The intellect finds in God all that its capacious powers demand.

2. By the moral purity arising from obedience to the Divine will. Moral purity is unattainable, except through this holy will.

3. By the inspiring views of the universe obtained through, the Divine revelation. Look at the universe apart from this Holy Book, and that universe is crowded with mysteries. But look at the universe through this Book, and at once it is flooded with celestial splendour, it is vocal with heavenly music.

II. THE WITHDRAWMENT OF THIS REVELATION CONSTITUTES MAN'S DIREST CALAMITY. It is described in the text as a "famine." Why is it so great a disaster?

1. Because man would be sundered from the central life of the universe. Sever his connection with this Book and you have severed his connection with God. Amputate a limb, and having sundered it from the vital heart that limb will rot. Excise the leaf from the tree on which it trembles, and sundered from the root it shrivels and dies. So with man; take this Book away from thy mind, desist from perusing this sacred page, and thou art sundered from the central life of the universe; the heart from which thou didst derive thy nourishment has ceased to communicate with thee. Thou shalt die of famine, and of thirst.

2. Because human happiness is the result of mental conditions, and these mental conditions can be formed and sustained alone by a Divine revelation. Pure happiness is not dependent on the external.

3. Because man would be left in ignorance of his Creator's purposes. He would resemble a traveller in an unknown country, not knowing but his very next footstep will plunge him over a precipice, or that he might fall into the pit dug by the hand of the enemy. He would find himself, indeed, surrounded by memorials of gigantic power, but he would not know what the intent of that power is in relation to him.

III. MAN'S TREATMENT OF THIS REVELATION DETERMINES ITS CONTINUANCE OR SUSPENSION (vers. 4-10).

1. The beneficence of God in granting a revelation. When humanity fell from His favour He might have retired into the depths of everlasting silence, and never have spoken another word to a disloyal race.

2. The importance of making the best of our privileges. While the sun does shine, O toil in its light. In the years of plenty lay up for the years of scarcity.

3. The necessity of grateful appreciation on the part of the Church. It is through you who do appreciate this will that the revelation thereof is continued. But for you the world would be left in intellectual darkness, and would perish with moral hunger.

IV. THE LOSS OF THIS REVELATION WILL SHOW MEN ITS PRECIOUSNESS. "And 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." We are continually realising this principle. We never estimate our privileges aright until we are in danger of losing them, or until they have vanished from our view. We see most of the bird's beauty when the bird spreads its wings for flight. And so with our moral privileges, when they are vanishing from our sight we behold beauties that never impressed us before. You have a striking illustration of this in the case of Saul, the first king of Israel. When he was little in his own eyes, God spake with him; he was in continual communication with the Great Ruler of the universe. But when he waxed haughty, the heavens were as brass, and God answered him no more. "Bring me up Samuel; give me some link that shall connect me with my God! Oh, the horror of this moral loneliness! Bring me up Samuel, my own teacher, that connected me with the Eternal and the Divine. Oh, for one glance of him, for one pressure of that warm hand, for one rebuke even from that stern voice!... Connect me with God" is the desolate cry of the lonely spirit. The withdrawment, then, of this revelation will shew its preciousness. Two facts are clear —

1. We fail to appreciate blessings with which we are most familiar. Who cares for the rising sun? who cares for that setting orb? We may see it every day; familiarity has engendered indifference. Show men some little fireworks, and they will hurry in crowds to look at them. So with God's Book. We have it so freely that we are in danger of its total neglect. Why, the fact that you have a book that professes to come from God ought to arouse you into the most intense solicitude. The fact that we have a book that you know has come from God ought to arouse your energies into an activity that will never weary, and your gratitude into a zeal that will never cool.

2. Our non-appreciation of these privileges is a sufficient reason for their withdrawment. Oh, you know not how near may be the loss of your most precious privileges.

V. THE RECOVERY OF THIS REVELATION WILL EVENTUALLY BE FOUND IMPOSSIBLE. "They shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, but shall not find it." God can retire. There are depths in the universe to which He can betake Himself, which are inaccessible to you. Spirits crying out in agony for that "old family Bible," the very reading of which was so intolerable to them in the days of their youth; running to and fro to seek some man to guide them, but every man they address says, "I am in search of the same blessing." They hear of some messenger of God in the far distance, with swift feet they run to him, and, alas! it is vanity — he has no message from God. "They shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and shall not find it." What is the picture? The human mind is a blank; that God-given brain a blank, every idea about God taken out of it. "I have held My light, and you have refused; I have taken it away," saith God. "I have spread My board, I have given a world-wide welcome, and ye refused. I have taken the viands away, and now you are running through the universe crying for God. But God has retired into depths to which you cannot penetrate." Such is the idea of my text. Men awakening to a sense of their privileges, when their awakening is too late.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Sin is an evil and a bitter thing. It is evil in its nature, and bitter in its consequences. It is evil with regard to God, and bitter with regard to us. Numberless are the miseries to which it has reduced individuals, families, nations, and the whole human race. Among these one of the most dreadful is famine. Yet there is a famine infinitely more dreadful than the famine of food: a "famine of hearing the words of the Lord."

I. THE NATURE OF THIS JUDGMENT. It takes in the loss of the Gospel as a dispensation administered by preaching. We may consider this famine —

1. As eternal. The means of grace and the ordinances of religion are exclusively confined to this life. If you die stranger to the power of godliness, you must continue. Your mistake will indeed be discovered, but it cannot be rectified in another world. "Now is the accepted time."

2. As spiritual. Thus it refers to the state of the mind. It takes place when souls are reduced to such indifference and insensibility as to be morally or judicially incapable of improvement by the institutions of religion, even should they be continued among them. When a man can no longer use food, or turn it into nourishment, it is the same with regard to himself as if all provision was denied him, — death must be the consequence.

3. As doctrinal. It may then be occasioned by the removal of faithful ministers, and the succession of others of different principles. This is sure to cause a declension in the number and in the zeal of the members of churches. For the grace and truth of God always go together. When the leading doctrines of the Gospel are denied or concealed the Gospel is withdrawn.

4. As literal. This is the case when a people are deprived of the very institutions of religion, and are forbidden the assembling of themselves together according to their convictions. This may be done by the inroads and oppression of an enemy; by the encroachments of tyranny; or by the loss of liberty of conscience.

II. THE DREADFULNESS OF IT.

1. Dwell upon the advantages derivable from the preaching of the Gospel. The generality of those that are called by Divine grace are saved by this instrumentality. And the usefulness of it continues through the whole of the Christian life.

2. Think of the importance of the soul and eternity. The body is the meanest part of our nature; and time is the shortest portion of our duration, by a degree no less than infinite. Our chief care ought to be, to gain spiritual wealth, spiritual honour, spiritual good, — for these regard man in his most essential claims and necessities.

3. The design of such a dispensation. Some judgments, though painful, are still profitable. They remove the human arm, but it is to lead us to a dependence on the Divine. Other judgments are in mercy, but this is in wrath. Other judgments are parental, but this is penal.

4. In estimating this curse, let us appeal to the sentiments of the righteous. In what terms does David deplore the loss of Divine assemblies?

III. THE EXECUTION OF THIS SENTENCE. God has engaged to establish His Church universal, but this does not regard any particular body of professors.

1. Is not He who utters His threatening almighty, and so able to fulfil it?

2. Is He not just, and so disposed to fulfil it? "A God all mercy is a God unjust."

3. Is He not faithful, and so bound to fulfil it?

4. Has not He who utters this threatening, fulfilled it already in various instances? The Jews are an eminent example. Our subject, then, demands gratitude. We have reason to bless God that we hate not had a famine of bread; but far more that He has not visited us with a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. Let us be concerned to improve our privilege while we possess it. With Gospel means be concerned to obtain Gospel grace, and earnestly pray that the ministry of the Word may become the ministration of the Spirit. Finally, as it is so dreadful to be destitute of the Gospel, think how many of your fellow-creatures are in this deplorable condition. Pray that the Sun of Righteousness may arise, with healing in His wings, and comfort them with the knowledge of salvation.

(William Jay.)

Essex Remembrancer.
What an awful mystery envelops the subject of the origin of evil. It is enough for us to know that sin has entered into our world. And it is the moral murderer of mankind.

I. THE STATEMENT OF A PRIVILEGE. "Hearing the words of the Lord." The possession of the oracles of God and a faithful dispensation of the Gospel are privileges far surpassing every other description of good under the sun.

1. Glance at the Jewish dispensation. A dispensation means a dealing out. There are three great dispensations with regard to the children of men — the dispensation of the law, the Gospel, and judgment. The whole system of the Old Testament may be summed up in "hearing the words of the Lord."

2. Look at the Christian dispensation.

II. THE INTIMATION OF A FAMINE. What constitutes a famine of "hearing of the words of the Lord"?

1. Where the means of instruction do not actually exist.

2. Where the means exist, but the instruction is not given.

3. Where the means of the instruction are unconnected with the Divine blessing.

III. THE AWFUL CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH A FAMINE.

1. It presses upon the nobler principle of our nature.

2. It removes the great preventive of crime.

3. It dries up the only source of comfort.

4. It leaves man without a hope beyond the grave.Learn —

(1)A lesson of gratitude for your distinguished religious privileges.

(2)Be humble before God for your abuse of such exalted privileges,

(3)The hearing of the Gospel will be of no avail without the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Homilist.
I. 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 that of want of bread and water. It was 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?

2. How am I to get my moral nature restored?

II. THE GREATEST DISEASE OF HUMAN NATURE IS A LACK OF APPETITE FOR THIS COMMUNICATION. The vast majority of souls have lost the appetite for the Divine Word. They are perishing, shrivelling up for lack of it. The worst of this.

1. Men are not conscious of it.

2. It works the worst ruin.

III. THE GREATEST MISERY OF HUMAN NATURE IS A QUICKENED APPETITE AND NO SUPPLIES.

1. The appetite will be quickened sooner or later.

2. When the appetite is quickened, and there is no supply, it is an inexpressible calamity.

(Homilist.)

We are taught by this text the inestimable value of the inspired Word.

1. We are dependent on it for the regeneration of our souls. The facts, doctrines, promises, warnings, invitations, examples of the Word are employed by the Spirit in opening blind eyes, quickening dead sensibilities, subduing the unruly wills and affections of sinful men.

2. We are beholden to this Word for true enlightenment. A fierce war is at present raging round the Bible. We entertain no apprehension as to the result of the present controversies. The Bible has survived many a storm.

3. In the written Word are also found the springs of consolation. The Scriptures were "written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort thereof might have hope." The Bible was not written to furnish us with a cosmogony, to be a text-book of geology, or a manual of astronomy. It would have been a positive calamity if Divine revelation had superseded the active exercise of the human intellect by anticipating the results of modern science and research.

4. We are under obligation to the revealed Word for its power of protection in time of danger and temptation, and most deeply should we feel this obligation.

5. We must think of this Word in relation to our spiritual advancement. Many devices are being adopted for the strengthening of the faith, the kindling of love, the quickening of zeal. But I have the greatest confidence in the closer dealing of individual Christians with the Divine Word. Then let us learn to prize our privileges more highly than heretofore.

(R. W. Forrest, M. A.)

There is no sign of the unthankfulness and ungratefulness of the heart of man more striking than the tendency to disparage and forget the commonest mercies, because they are common. It may be that God will teach us the worth of privilege by depriving us of it.

I. THE JUDGMENT DENOUNCED IN THIS TEXT. A famine of "hearing the Word of the Lord." The Gospel of salvation, the Word that bringeth life and peace, is often beautifully figured under the emblem of water, purifying from all uncleanness, and refreshing and reviving the fainting spirit. So the Gospel is often figured under the simple symbol of bread. Jesus said, "I am the living Bread which came down from heaven!" The, bread and water of life signify all the rich blessings of salvation. The famine here threatened is a dearth of the heavenly manna. This famine we may trace in various gradations at different periods of the Church. Trace it in its lighter and less terrible visitations. When God withdraws the living power and influence of His Spirit, so that it does not accompany the Word. Then there is a barrenness, a blight, and a powerlessness in the ministry of the Word, and on the face of the Church. Trace it more manifestly in the corruption or abstraction of the great living doctrines of the Gospel of Christ. The dry morality of a Cicero or a Socrates may usurp the place of the living "truth as it is in Christ Jesus." The same calamity may be inflicted upon a Church or people when the ministry of the Word is entirely suppressed or suspended. Thus it was in the Jewish Church of old, and in the Christian times designated as the "Dark Ages."

II. THE TERRIBLENESS OF THE JUDGMENT THUS DENOUNCED. A natural famine is a fearful visitation. The famine God here threatens is altogether more severe and terrible. The greatness of the calamity is seen because on the faithful ministration of God's Word depends all that is moral, beautiful, great, glorious in a land or in a church. What does our own country owe to the "liberty of prophesying"? We take a higher view when we remind you that the "life is more than meat, and the body than raiment." The soul is lost without the Saviour. It is "by the foolishness of preaching" that it pleases God to "save them that believe." Let the free Gospel be withdrawn, and all would be darkness and death.

III. WHAT MAY BE OCCASIONS THAT PROVOKE THE GREAT GOD TO INFLICT SUCH A CALAMITY AS UPON A CHURCH OR A PEOPLE?

1. Neglect of and indifference to the precious oracles of God.

2. Making the Word of God into an idol. The Bible itself may come between the soul and the God it reveals.

3. Disregard of and forsaking the faithful ministration of the truth.

4. We may make too much of men, and too little of the Master; too much of human wisdom, and too little of Divine.

5. The supplementing and adding to God's Word, as if it were insufficient; or the darkening or perverting it, as though man's interpretation were essential, and the Spirit of God were not His own interpreter.

6. The means and ordinances may be exalted to the depreciation of the "foolishness of the preaching" of the Word of God. God's sacraments do not act as magical charms; the Spirit of God teaches man as a rational and responsible agent.

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

It is a characteristic principle of Divine warnings, that the woes which they denounce upon guilty men generally consist in the mere withdrawal of abused privileges, and the desertion of men to gain their own ends in their own ways. There needs nothing for man's everlasting ruin, but that God should let him alone. If God exercise no positive energy of His grace to rescue him from destruction, all is done that need be done to make this destruction sure, and without a remedy. As a practical illustration of this principle, you find the Scriptures warning men of their dangers in an unconverted state, under the simple idea and shape of destitution and want. God departs from them, leaves them, hides His face from them, lets them alone; and they thus gain the punishment which their guilt deserves, as the harvest of their own sowing and the fruit of their own planting. This principle forms the point upon which the warning of our present text is rested. Famine, with all its attendant, multiform evils, is the simple result of continued want and deprivation. If God withholds His rain and His snow from heaven, all the horrors of famine come upon man without any direct effort or act on his part to confirm or increase it. So God proclaims to sinful men the result of their negligence of His grace and contempt of the spiritual mercies which have been long continued to them in vain. He will withdraw all direct spiritual interposition and leave them to the barrenness of their own nature.

I. THE EVILS OF SPIRITUAL FAMINE. The Lord treats it as a curse and a punishment. Man lives not by bread only, but by the words which proceed out of the mouth of the Lord. Man's real life is fed by communications of Divine grace. Take from the soul of man its heavenly nourishment, and you leave it a prey to the gnawing of eternal want, and the mere vessel of eternal wrath and anguish. The full evils of this spiritual famine this world cannot. display, nor can man, in his present state, apprehend them.

II. THE FACTS WHICH CONSTITUTE A SPIRITUAL FAMINE. These are facts of man's experience here. To constitute such a famine there is, sometimes, an entire removal from a people of all the ordinances and privileges of the Gospel, that only life-giving Word of God, Or there is found a withdrawal from a community who still retain the name, if not the external form of Christianity, the preaching of the Gospel in its peculiar truths. Or, though the truth of God be still proclaimed, there is no power communicated from above to carry it with life-giving efficacy to the souls of men.

III. THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH LEAD TO THIS SPIRITUAL FAMINE. Some of these are on the side of the preacher of the Word. There may be; in the pulpit, a hiding of the light of the Gospel; or a spirit of sectarian division and controversy. Or a conformity among professing Christians to the course of this world. An unbelieving rejection of the spiritual claims of the Gospel, and a misimprovement of the mercies which a Saviour bestows, lead a people with certainty to this famine of the Word of the Lord. The habit of unmoved and heartless hearing of the Gospel prepares the way for the certain loss of all the blessings which the Gospel gives. And a neglect of the appointed ordinances and institutions of the Gospel leads to the same result.

IV. THE WAY IN WHICH THE EVILS OF SPIRITUAL FAMINE MAY BE AVERTED. Prize highly the faithful dispensation of the Word of God. And pray for the success of the Word of God. Its great object is the conversion of the ungodly, and the restoration of this fallen world to God. Let this object, in all its magnitude and importance, be kept before you.

(T. S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

One of the most ghastly tales in history is that of a king who condemned a prisoner to be starved to death in a palace filled with gold, silver, and the most precious stones in the world. For a while the sight of diamonds and rubies, any one of which would purchase provisions for a year, delighted the hapless victim. But when the fever of hunger began to burn, and the weakness and languor of starvation unnerved him, the very sight of the treasures maddened him. It is but a faint picture of the human soul, surrounded with all the earthly things that can be desired, yet famishing for love, for peace, for rest in God.

(J. R. Miller.)

Homilist.
The "sin of Samaria" means the idolatry of Samaria. The words suggest a thought or two in relation to religious sincerity.

I. RELIGIOUS SINCERITY IS NO PROOF OF THE ACCURACY OF RELIGIOUS CREED. Those 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. 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. The words suggest —

II. THAT RELIGIOUS SINCERITY IS NO PROTECTION AGAINST THE PUNISHMENT THAT FOLLOWS ERROR. "They shall fall, and rise no more." The sincerity of the Israelites in their worship in Bethel and at Dan prevented not their ruin. There are those who hold that man is not responsible for his beliefs — that so long as he is sincere he is a true 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 take poison into his system, sincerely believing that it is nutriment, will his belief save him?

(Homilist.)

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