And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house…
I. WHEN, OR UPON WHAT OCCASIONS, THE EXERCISE OF GODLY SORROW FOR SIN IS IN A PECULIAR MANNER SEASONABLE.
1. When transgressors are very numerous; when the body of a people is corrupted.
2. The call becomes still more pressing when transgressors are not only numerous, but likewise bold and impudent; sinning, as Absalom did, "before all Israel, and in the sight of the sun." This is fatal presage of approaching vengeance; for God will not always tolerate such insolent contempt of His authority.
3. Especially when sinners are not only numerous and impudent, but likewise guilty of those grossest abominations which in former ages have been followed with the most tremendous judgments. If you read the Scriptures you will find that profane swearing, perjury, contempt of the Sabbath, theft, murder, and adultery are all of this kind.
4. When the persons that commit them are resolute and incorrigible. When the wicked are forewarned of their sin and danger; when, by the preaching of the Word, their duty is plainly and faithfully set before them; when they are exhorted by others and rebuked by their own consciences; when they are smitten with such rods as bear the most legible signature of their crimes; or when, in a milder way, they are admonished and warned by the punishments inflicted upon others for the same crimes; when, after all or any of these means employed to reclaim them, they still hold fast their iniquities, and will not let them go: then should the godly lament and mourn, and pray with redoubled earnestness for those miserable creatures who have neither the ingenuity nor the wisdom to pray for themselves.
II. A FEW OBVIOUS REMARKS RELATIVE TO THE TIME AND PLACE IN WHICH OUR LOT IS CAST. It is too apparent to be denied, that the vices I mentioned under the former head, intemperance, lewdness, the most insolent abuse of the Christian Sabbath, lying, cursing, and even perjury itself, are more or less practised in every corner of the land. However, as they cannot be strictly accounted the peculiar reproach of the present age, I shall remind you of some other instances of departure from God which, with greater and more evident propriety, may be termed the distinguishing characteristics of the times in which we live.
1. I begin with Infidelity, which of late hath spread itself through all orders of men, the lowest not excepted.
2. Again, is there not a visible contempt of the authority of God?
3. Further, we seem, in a great measure, to have lost any proper sense of our dependence upon God. "When His hand is lifted up we do not see." We forget Him in prosperity; and in adversity we look no higher than the creature.
4. To all these I must add the luxury and sensuality which have now spread their roots and branches so wide that they may truly be said to fill the whole land. Pleasure is at length become a laborious study; and with many, I am afraid, it is their only study: for it leaves them no room to pursue any other. While the poor are striving, while many who are willing to labour can find no employment, and not a few have abandoned their native country to seek that sustenance in foreign parts which they could not earn at home; still is pleasure pursued with increasing ardour, and no price is deemed extravagant that can purchase an addition to it.
III. A FEW OF THE GENUINE SYMPTOMS AND PROPER EFFECTS OF THE GRACIOUS TEMPER I MEAN TO RECOMMEND.
1. We can never be assured that our grief for the sins of others is pure, and of the right kind, unless our hearts be duly affected with grief and sorrow for our own transgressions. Godly sorrow is just and impartial; it always begins at home, and makes few visits abroad, till domestic sins are first bewailed.
2. Our grief is of the right kind when it leads us to pray for transgressors: and when it hath not this effect, we have not only cause to suspect, but may conclude, without hesitation, that it is spurious and counterfeit.
3. Our grief for the sins of others, if pure and genuine, will be accompanied with proper endeavours to reclaim them. Every true mourner will consider himself as "his brother's keeper," and will leave no means unattempted to prevent his ruin. He will set his guilt and danger before him in the most prudent and affecting manner he can; and though he meet with many repulses, nay, though his labour of love should be requited with scorn and hatred, yet he will repeat his application again and again, and take hold of every favourable opportunity that presents itself.
4. If we are in truth possessed of this gracious temper, if our grief for abounding iniquity flows from the pure fountain of love to God, and zeal for His glory, we shall own His cause in the most perilous times, and reckon nothing too dear to be hazarded in His service. We must be doing in a humble dependence upon His grace; and then we may both ask, and hope to obtain, His blessing upon our endeavours. But if we pray, and sit still; if we lie howling upon our beds, when we should be abroad at our labour, we offend God instead of pleasing Him, and can look for no other answer but this, "Who hath required these things at your hand?"
Parallel VersesKJV: And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;