Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel: for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land…
No one can fail to acknowledge in this terrible picture a representation of every people which habitually breaks the laws of God; and who, having set themselves free from the restraints of religion, or, through ignorance, being unconscious of their obligation, are delivered up to the working of their own heart's lusts, and to follow their own imaginations. This consummation of depravity is even found in the chosen people of God. There was no truth where the great Source of all truth had announced the laws of moral perfection: there was no mercy where the prodigies of Divine compassion had been manifested from one generation to another: there was no knowledge of God where alone God could be known, and in the only place in which the principles of His government, and the attributes of His person, had been revealed to man. What rendered the case of Israel desperate, and remedy impossible, was this, that those who had been set apart as the depositaries of Divine knowledge, and who, by their life and doctrine, had been intended by the Almighty to act constantly, as a conservative power, against the corruptions of the mass, had yielded themselves to the popular torrent, and turned rank and station, the dignity of a holy vocation, and the talents of knowledge and intellect to the promotion of those vices which God had given them a solemn commission to withstand. They were weary of resisting the tendencies of the age and the godless spirit which found too complete an echo in their own hearts. So the princes and priests of Israel deserted their post, sealed up the records of God's Word, and by ceasing to inculcate the awful sanctions of His law, and concealing from the people those oracles in which alone knowledge and wisdom are to be found, filled up to the brim the measure of their iniquity. That measure was filled up because they who had knowledge and had the guardianship of God's heritage had turned traitors and withheld the Bread of Life from the famishing people. To whatever privileges a people may have been elected, no outward marks of distinction, apart from a corresponding holiness, will avail in the sight of Him who is no respecter of persons, and who trieth the very reins and hearts. The history of Israel is nothing but the annals of those judgments with which tie has visited their abuse of mercies, and their never-ending neglect or perversion of that most awful of all deposits, spiritual knowledge. If men in all times have been made accountable to God for the fate of their fellowcreatures, and most assuredly they have, it behoves us to look well to our own case, and beware how we involve ourselves in the participation of such guilt. Let us not deceive ourselves by supposing that the sins and the sanctions, the moral actions and the moral dealings of the eider covenant are inapplicable to ourselves. Considerable differences there may be, but they are all against us, and an increase of our responsibility. It is known to few of us how vast are the masses of ignorance and vice which undermine the surface of this favoured land.
Parallel VersesKJV: Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.