Deuteronomy 32:31


Few men but feel that they need a rock of some kind. Only when their mountain stands very strong do they feel as if they were absolutely secure and independent (Obadiah 1:3, 4). Even then their trust is in acquired power and riches, which is a "rock" to them, though their confidence often proves delusive (Haman, Nebuchadnezzar, Wolsey). When men have lost faith in religion, they frequently take refuge in the "rock" of philosophy. The "rock" of the heathen is their idols and the arts of the soothsayer. Men tend to make a "rock" of those superior to them in power and wisdom. The "rock of nations is too often their military and naval defenses, with arts of diplomacy, and alliances with stronger powers (Isaiah 30.). The believer's Rock, which is the best of all, is God.

I. THE SUPERIORITY OF THE BELIEVER'S ROCK EVINCED.

1. From the nature of this Rock. Grant that God is, a Being, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable wise in his counsel, omnipotent in his power, faithful in his promises, righteous in his actions, infinitely gracious and merciful to those who put their trust in him, a strong Rock," "an House of defense" to save them (Psalm 32:7), a "Hiding-place" to preserve them from trouble (Psalm 32:7), - and the superiority of this Rock to every other needs no further demonstration. It is self-evidently impossible to have a surer or a better. What can man ask more than that the "eternal God" should be his "Refuge," and that underneath him should be the "everlasting arms"? (Deuteronomy 33:27).

2. From the advantages derived from this Rock. These are such as no other can pretend to give. The believer's life being hid with God (Colossians 3:3) and guaranteed by the life of Christ in heaven (John 14:19), and his inheritance lying beyond death (1 Peter 1:4), no hostility of man can reach either. No other "rock" can give the same security, the same peace, joy, shelter, strength, comfort, and refreshment, as the believer's. To which considerations add the following: -

1. Many of these so-called "rocks" are nonentities. The idols of the heathen are of this description. So with the arts and charms of sorcery, prayers to the Virgin, etc.

2. The surest of these "rocks" are not to be depended on. "Wisdom is better than strength" (Ecclesiastes 9:16); but wisdom, strength, riches, rank, powerful friend, long-consolidated might, - all sometimes fail those who put their trust in them.

3. Not one of these "rocks" can stand when God wills its overthrow. God's help, on the other hand, is real, always to be relied on, and invincible against opposition.

II. THE SUPERIORITY OF THE BELIEVER'S ROCK CONFESSED. It is often confessed, even by the enemy. How often, e.g. have ungodly men expressed themselves envious of the religious trust and peace of the believer! How often have they admitted its superiority to anything possessed by themselves! How often, again, have they owned to their own "rocks" failing them in time of need! How often, even, when it came to the end, have they lamented that they had not sought the Rock of the believer] Philosophy is admitted, even by those who take refuge in it, to be but a sorry substitute for religion. Passages could be culled from current literature showing very distinctly this need of the believer's rock - the almost agonizing expression of a wish that belief were possible - the confession that in the surrender of Christian beliefs a large part of life's hopefulness and joy has gone forever (see in Mallock's "Is Life worth Living?"). - J.O.









For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being Judges.
We profess to believe that the system of doctrine and ethics set forth in Scripture is true. It is our business to prove it.

1. We may use a priori method; that is, we may take an antecedent probability and proceed to verify it. If there is a God, He would probably reveal Himself.

2. The a posteriori method; that is, reasoning from facts to conclusions. There are certain facts for which it is impossible to account otherwise than by attributing a supernatural power to religion.

3. Our case may be substantiated by external evidence.

4. Internal evidence or personal experience.

5. In demonstrating the truth of Christianity we may use the testimony of its friends. An army of such witnesses is ever marching past.

6. There is still another view point, however, to wit, the testimony of the enemy. It is our purpose to pursue a brief argument from the concessions made by unbelievers as to the divineness of Jesus and the power of the religion which has its living centre in Him.

I. Our first witnesses shall be A GROUP OF THREE WHO WERE ABLE TO TESTIFY FROM MORE OR LESS INTIMATE ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE LIVING CHRIST.

1. Pilate. "I am innocent of the blood of this just person." The word rendered "just person" is used by Plato in characterising the ideal man.

2. The Centurion who had charge of the crucifixion of Jesus. "Truly this was the Son of God!" He knew the hopes of Israel respecting the coming of Messiah. one of whose distinctive titles was "the Son of God," and he was persuaded that "those hopes were realised in this Jesus whom they had sentenced to the accursed tree.

3. Judas. "I have betrayed innocent blood!"

II. We now come to THE POST-APOSTOLIC PERIOD, AND SUMMON A COTERIE OF STALWART ENEMIES OF CHRIST.

1. Josephus, the Jewish historian, who wrote in the first century of the Christian era. In his Antiquities he says, "About this time lived Jesus, a wise man — if it be proper to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works. He was a teacher of such men as receive the truth. He was called the Christ. And when Pilate, at the instigation of our principal men, had condemned Him to the Cross, those who had loved Him did not forsake Him. And He appeared to them alive again on the third day, the prophets of old having foretold these and many other wonderful things concerning Him. And the sect of Christians, so named after Him, is not extinct unto this day."

2. Celsus, a Greek philosopher of the second century, who wrote vigorously against the sect of Galileans. He quotes liberally from the New Testament, and concedes the genuineness of the miracles of Christ.

3. Porphyry, of the second century, a Neo-Platonist, who wrote fifteen volumes against Christianity. He says, in speaking of the oracles, "The goddess Hecate hath declared Jesus to be a most pious man, His soul, like the souls of other pious men, favoured with immortality after death. The Christians do mistakingly worship Him. And when we asked at the oracle, 'Why then was He condemned?' she answered, 'The body is liable to suffering, but the soul of the pious dwells in heavenly mansions. He hath indeed been the occasion of error in leading others away from the acknowledgment of the immortal Jove; but, being Himself pious, He is gone to the dwelling of the gods."

4. Julian, the apostate emperor of the fourth century. He was a bitter enemy of Christianity. In a campaign against the Persians he fell, pierced with a spear. Clutching the dust in his agony, he cried, "Galilean, Thou hast conquered!" He says, "Jesus, having persuaded a few of the baser sort of Galileans to attach themselves to Him, has now been celebrated about three hundred years. He did nothing in His lifetime worthy of fame, unless it be counted a great work to heal lame and blind people and exorcise demoniacs." A splendid tribute, this, to the beneficent work of Christ!

III. WE LEAP A THOUSAND YEARS AND COME TO ANOTHER GROUP OF UNBELIEVERS. We are now in the midst of influences which are ultimately to provoke a social and political upheaval throughout the civilised earth.

1. Spinoza. He is referred to as the father of modern pantheism. He did not believe in the personality of God, but regarded Him as an all-pervading something with the attributes of extension and thought. As to this God, however, he says that "Jesus Christ was the temple. In Him God has most fully revealed Himself."

2. Thomas Chubb, a leader of the modern deists. He was a tallow chandler in his early life, and his sympathies were with the common people. Though he rejected the divineness of the Gospel, yet he was pleased to compliment it as a religion for the poor. He says, "In Christ we have an example of a quiet and peaceable spirit, of a becoming modesty and sobriety — just, honest, upright, and sincere, and above all, of a most gracious and benevolent temper and behaviour — one who did no wrong, no injury to any man, in whose mouth was no guile; who went about doing good, not only by His ministry, but also in curing all manner of diseases among the people. His life was a beautiful picture of human nature in its own purity and simplicity, and showed at once what excellent creatures men might be under the influence of His Gospel."

IV. And now we present three malignant spirits, than whom no others in history have probably exercised a more disastrous influence on human thought, THE MASTER SPIRITS OF THE PERIOD OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

1. Diderot, father of the Encyclopedic, which was the dragon's egg of the Reign of Terror In a conversation with the Baron de Holbach he is represented as saying, "For a wonder, gentlemen, I know nobody, either in France or elsewhere, who could write as these Scriptures are written. This is a Satan of a book. I defy anyone to prepare a tale so simple, so sublime and touching, as that of the passion of Jesus Christ."

2. Jean Jacques Rousseau, brilliant, erratic, inconsistent. Here is a remarkable saying of his: "I will confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the Gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all their pomp of diction — how mean, how contemptible are they compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book so simple and at once so sublime should be merely the work of man? Is it possible that the sacred personage whose history it contains should be Himself a mere man? What sweetness, what purity in His manner! What an affecting gracefulness in His instructions! What sublimity in His maxims! What profound wisdom in His discourses! What presence of mind, what subtlety, what fitness in His replies! Where is the man, where the philosopher, who could so live and so die without weakness and without ostentation? When Plato describes his imaginary just man, loaded with all the punishments of guilt, yet meriting the highest rewards of virtue, he describes exactly the character of Jesus Christ, and the resemblance is so striking that all the Church Fathers perceived it. The death of Socrates, peacefully philosophising among his friends, appears the most agreeable that one could wish: while that of Jesus expiring in agonies, abused, insulted, and accused by a whole nation, is the most horrible that one could fear. Socrates, indeed, in receiving the cup of poison, blessed the weeping executioner who administered it: but Jesus, amid excruciating tortures, prayed for His merciless tormentors. Yes, verily, if the life and death of Socrates were those of a sage, the life and death of Jesus were those of a God."

3. Voltaire. No man ever lived who wrote more bitterly of the Christian religion than he; yet hear this letter, the last he ever wrote, expressed in an honest hour, and worthy of consideration as the utterance of a dying man: "I, the underwritten, do declare that for these four days past, having been afflicted with vomiting of blood — at the age of eighty-four — and not being able to drag myself to church, the reverend Rector of Sulpice having been pleased to add to his many favours that of sending me the Abbe Gautier, I did confess to him, that if it please God to dispose of me, I would die in the Church in which I was born. Hoping that the Divine mercy will pardon my faults, I sign myself in the presence of Abbe Mignon, my nephew, and Marquis de Villeville, my friend, VOLTAIRE. March 2, 1778,"

V. We here introduce A WITNESS WHO STANDS ALONE, THE MOST COLOSSAL FIGURE IN HISTORY. Napoleon. If not an unbeliever in the radical sense, he was certainly a fatalist. His star of destiny was his only providence. On one occasion, during his exile, Genesis Bertrand said to him, "I cannot conceive, sire, how a great man like you could believe that a Supreme Being could exhibit Himself to man in human guise." Napoleon answered, "I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ was not a man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and whatever other religions the distance of infinity. Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Between Him and whoever else in the world there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by Himself. His ideas and His sentiments, the truth which He announces, and His manner of convincing are not explained either by human organisation or by the nature of things. His birth and the history of His life; the profundity of His doctrine, which grapples the mightiest difficulties, and which is of those difficulties the most admirable solution; His Gospel, His apparition, His empire, His march across the ages and the realms — everything is for me a prodigy, a mystery insoluble, which plunges me into reveries which I cannot escape; a mystery which is there before my eyes, a mystery which I can neither deny nor explain. Here I see nothing human...And what a mysterious symbol, the instrument of punishment of the Man-God! His disciples were armed with it. 'The Christ,' they said, 'God has died for the salvation of men.' What a strife, what a tempest, these simple words have raised around the humble standard of the punishment of the Man-God! On the one side we see rage and all the furies of hatred and violence: on the other there are gentleness, moral courage, infinite resignation. Everywhere Christians fell, and everywhere they triumphed. You speak of Caesar, of Alexander, of their conquests, and of the enthusiasm which they enkindled in the hearts of their soldiers; but can you conceive of a dead man making conquests, with an army faithful and entirely devoted to his memory?...Now that I am at St. Helena, now that I am alone, chained upon this rock, who fights and wins empires for me? who are the courtiers of my misery and misfortunes? who thinks of me? who makes effort for me in Europe? Where are my friends? What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal reign of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over all the earth! Is this to die? is it not rather to live? The death of Christ — it is the death of God."

VI. We summon now TWO WITNESSES FROM AMONG THE POETS, both of whom, gifted with extraordinary genius, rejected the Gospel of Christ.

1. Goethe. "I consider the Gospels to be thoroughly genuine, for in them is the effective reflection of the sublimity which emanates from Jesus, and this is as Divine as ever the Divine appeared on earth."

2. Jean Paul Richter, worshipper of the beautiful. "Jesus of Nazareth is the purest among the mighty, the mightiest among the pure, who with His pierced hand has raised empires from their foundations, turned the stream of history from its old channel, and still continues to rule and guide the ages."

VII. The two who are now to appear and bear testimony ARE REPRESENTATIVE LEADERS OF THE RIGHT AND LEFT WINGS OF MODERN UNITARIANISM.

1. Dr. Channing, leader of the conservatives, says, "I maintain that this is a character wholly remote from human conception. To imagine it to be the production of imposture or enthusiasm shows a strange unsoundness of mind. I contemplate it with a veneration second only to the profound awe with which I look upward to God. It bears no mark of human invention. It belongs to and manifested the beloved Son of God. I feel as if I could not be deceived. The Gospels must be true. They were drawn from a living original. The character of Jesus is not a fiction. He was what He claimed to be, and what His followers attested. Nor is this all. Jesus not only was, He is still, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. He has entered the heaven to which He always looked forward on earth. There He lives and reigns. Let us, then, by imitation of His virtues and obedience to His Word, prepare ourselves to join Him in those pure mansions where He is surrounding Himself with the good and the pure, and will communicate to them forever His own spirit and power and joy."

2. Theodore Parker, leader of the radicals, says, "Jesus combines in Himself the sublimest precepts and divinest practices, thus more than realising the dream of prophets and sages. He puts away the doctors of the law, subtle, learned, irrefragable, and pours out a doctrine beautiful as the light, sublime as heaven, and true as God. Shall we be told that such a man never lived? Suppose that Newton never lived. But who did his works? and thought his thoughts? It takes a Newton to forge a Newton. What man could have fabricated a Jesus? None but Jesus."

VIII. THE TWO WITNESSES WHO REMAIN HAVE BEEN FOREMOST LEADERS OF MODERN UNBELIEF.

1. David Strauss, the author of the mythical theory of the story of Jesus — perhaps the most conspicuous figure in recent German thought. A few years ago he was buried without a prayer or word of Christian song. He says, "If in Jesus the union of self-consciousness with the consciousness of God has been real, and expressed not only in words but actually revealed in all the conditions of His life, He represents within the religious sphere the highest point, beyond which humanity cannot go — yea, whom it cannot equal, inasmuch as everyone who hereafter should climb to the same height could only do so with the help of Jesus who first attained it. He remains the highest model of religion within our thought, and no perfect piety is possible without His presence in the heart.

2. Ernest Renan, author of the legendary theory. He rejected the supernatural from the Gospel record. His romantic biography of Jesus concludes in these words, "Repose now in Thy glory, noble Founder I Henceforth, beyond the reach of frailty, Thou shalt witness, from the heights of Divine peace, the infinite results of Thy work. For thousands of years the world will defend Thee! Thou shalt be the banner about which the hottest battle will be given Whatever may be the surprises of the future, Jesus will never be surpassed. His worship will grow young without ceasing; His legend will call forth tears without end; His sufferings will melt the noblest hearts; all ages will proclaim that among the sons of men there is none born greater than Jesus."CONCLUSION — In view of these concessions made by the leading representatives of unbelief all along the centuries, it is submitted that thoughtful people cannot pause in a partial or qualified rejection of Jesus Christ.

1. As to His person. Was He man? Ay, grandly so. But He was either less than a true man or more. His enemies themselves being witnesses, He was either an impostor or the Divine Man, as He claimed to be.

2. As to His character. He was the one bright particular star in a firmament of imperfect lights. He alone is worthy to be the exemplar of character, for He alone meets the conditions of the ideal manhood.

3. As to His teaching. There have been other sacred teachers — Seneca, Confucius, Zoroaster, Sakya-Muni — but these were in comparison with Him as glow-worms to the noonday sun. Never man spake like this Man.

4. As to His work. "He went about doing good." And since His crucifixion He has continued the building up of a kingdom of truth and righteousness on earth. Its outward form is the Church, "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."

5. As to the manner of His death. Ah, here the mystery thickens! Under His Cross we learn the truth, justice, holiness, and mercy of the living God. And here Christ comes into vital relation with our souls. Our God is the God of salvation. What, therefore, shall we say? As for me, I do believe this Jesus is destined to reign even unto the ends of the earth. The story of His Church is an unbroken record of triumph. The government is upon His shoulders. He is King over all and blessed forever. What more? As for me, this Christ shall be my Saviour. Shall He be yours?

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

When Moses speaks of a rock he intends that in which men seek for security, repose, refreshment. By "our rock," he means the living God in whom the saints trust — He is the impregnable strength of His people; amid the weariness of life He is the rest of their soul, in Him they find sweet delight. By "their rock" Moses meant the idols, the religious systems, the worldly things, the lying vanities in which the natural man places his hope. The outside world often concedes the superiority of Christian hope. It is true, that the verdict given in our favour by worldly and unbelieving men is not always verbal and direct; it is often unintentional, implied, and indirect, but such concessions have a great value — in some respects they are more significant than are direct and verbal testimonies. And there is another objection we may anticipate. It may be said that the testimony of worldly and sceptical men to the superiority of the Christian faith can have little sincerity in it if they do not follow up their admission by accepting that faith. But a creed may have the sanction of a man's understanding and conscience, and yet he may refuse to adopt it. There is the power of prejudice, of worldly interest, there is the tyranny of passion and appetite, there is the pride of life, there is the want of inclination to believe and obey, there is the unwillingness of men to pay the price for a great ideal.

I. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS OF WORLDLINESS. The million trust in gold, pleasure, position, and in certain hours they are very confident and scornful. The flowery rock of pleasure is the true rock; the design of life is the gratification of the senses; sunshine, roses, and song are the desirable things. To others the golden rock is the true rock. Safety, leisure, honour, greatness, and the fulness of joy are guaranteed by the golden reef; laying up treasure in heaven is a silly illusion of the saints. Others declare the proud rock of position is the true rock. He who builds a palace has reached life's hope and glory; there is no religion but the religion of success, and the children of advantage and renown look with pity on men whose only distinction is goodness and faith, Flushed with pleasure, intoxicated with health and wealth, blinded by the pride of life, they cry frantically: "Great is Diana of the Ephesians." But the days come when they think very little of Diana. Having served fame, pleasure, appetite, pride, mammon, they declare that they have been betrayed and mocked, and they look sympathetically and longingly to the religious life they have neglected. They do not find under their rock the sweetness they expected; in the days of health, of opulence, of pleasure, they are disappointed; the honey out of their rock is poisoned and its waters are bitter. They extol the apple of Sodom, and make a face whilst they eat it. They do not find the rest for which they hoped. Life is a weariness, the burden and heat of the day is too great to be borne. They do not find the security and peace they desire. They quarrel with their rock whilst they live; they mistrust it at the grave, for in their lips is the cry of Balaam: "Let me die the death of the righteous," etc.

II. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS OF UNBELIEF.

1. The sceptical world makes intellectual concessions to our creed. In our day we have witnessed a remarkable sight in the sceptical world, We have seen a great sceptic make a new rock, and we have seen how slavishly he has copied our rock. No one can study that most wonderful modern system of secularism known as positivism without being struck with its close resemblance to the Christian doctrine, worship, and hope. A story is told of one of our painters that, having painted a picture with a fine rock in it, he went to see another picture painted by a brother artist in which also a rock was a prominent feature; immediately he saw it, the original artist broke out, "He has stolen my rock, he has stolen my rock!" When I read the French sceptic's multitudinous pages I find the same cry again and again coming to my lips. Of course, I soon see that it is not my rock, not the granite foundation, not the Rock of Ages, but only plaster of Paris, on which can be built no house of salvation. Nevertheless it is a great concession to Christianity that unbelief should thus follow its lines, imitate its dogmas, worship, fellowship, and hope. In nature there is a phenomenon known as "mimicry," it is a curious fact on which our modern scientists have written largely, namely, that one class of insects or birds acquire characteristics which belong to another class, they come closely to resemble creatures with which they have no real affinity. But mind this, it is always the weak and inferior creature that apes the stronger and higher, never the superior that imitates the inferior.

2. Unbelief makes many practical concessions to our creed.(1) Such an acknowledgment of the preciousness of our faith comes from the domestic circle in the indisposition of the unbeliever to make sceptics of his family. Men wish to do their best for their families.(2) Such an acknowledgment comes from the business world. Scepticism may be considered a virtue in literary circles, but it is hardly accepted as such in the practical world even by irreligious men. I saw once an advertisement for a clerk: "Freethinker preferred." I do not know what kind of business was transacted in that office, or what came of that advertisement, but how strangely it sounded! I have seen it only once — significant fact.(3) Such an acknowledgment comes from the political sphere. The validity of religion is denied in theory, but the men who deny its truth and authority confess that politically it is useful, nay, indispensable — they agree to regard it as a useful superstition. Gibbon, infidel as he was, attacking the Christian religion with learning, eloquence, and satire, yet went to church, because he confessed that he felt that government and order would be impossible unless the common people were awed by the supernatural. When later a rationalist like Edmond About said, "What France needs is ten millions of Protestants, he gave utterance to the same thought — that a spiritual faith is essential to order, to civilisation, to progress. And many able unbelievers of late years have looked with the deepest misgiving on the spread of infidel opinion — they believed that the opinion was correct, yet that socially and politically it was perilous. To discredit religious faith was to loosen the bands of order and government.

III. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS OF HEATHENISM.

1. The heathen are deeply impressed with our superior civilisation, which has its roots in our faith. We do not go to them with an abstract faith, but with a creed attested by many powerful and conspicuous demonstrations. We possess a marvellous sciences a vast commerces a splendid literature — power, wealth, culture, liberty almost unexampled. Christianity can say with its author: "Believe me for the very works' sake." This spectacle of a supreme civilisation in many ways affects the thought of the pagan when he considers the merit of our faith. He looks round on the backwardness, the weakness, the ignorance, the poverty, the subordination of his own land, and feels there is something seriously amiss with his gods, temples, and scriptures. "Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." The heathen is deeply impressed by our philanthropy, which is also a fruit of our faith. In a recent article on "The Amelioration of the Condition of Hindu Women," which appeared in a native newspaper in India, called The Hindu, occur these words: "We by no means approve of the attempts of the evangelists to Christianise India. We believe in the Hindu religion, and in the suitability of its doctrines to the people of this land,...but it is impossible not to admire and feel thankful for the good work the missionaries are doing. It is a matter of standing reproach to us that we are not able to do for our countrymen and women half as much as the Christian missionaries are doing for us."

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Modern infidelity has many tones and many voices. Some of these are insolent and arrogant, — they drive us at once to a distance. There is just one which is deeply pathetic. It is that which confesses that its rock is not as our Rock; that its reasonings and its discoveries have not enriched but impoverished. "Our Rock" is the God of the Christian revelation. Our enemy's rock is a divinity of man's construction, however many or however few it may admit of the characteristics of the other. Let me name one or two of the attributes of our Rock.

I. THE DIVINE PERSONALITY. Man wants, and must have, someone above himself to worship, trust, love.

II. THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. It is very well to say that sin is not sinful; or to say, on the other hand, that sin must be left as it is, to bear its fruit in consequence, and to know no other cure but forgetfulness: this does not meet the case, does not heal the remorse, does not repair the mischief, does not set the sinner free to work, because it sets him not free to hope. Forgiveness is a name not yet named: till it is named, I am helpless still. But forgiveness of sins is named in revelation. It is the keystone of the Gospel.

III. THE LAWFULNESS, REALITY, AND EFFICACY OF PRAYER. How ready to hand are the old cavils! How shall man stay or guide the hand of God?

IV. LIFE AND IMMORTALITY BROUGHT TO LIGHT BY THE GOSPEL. What has "their rock" to tell of a world beyond death? A guess, a peradventure — at best, a recognition of angel faces loved and lost — at best, a resumption, in some spoilt and damaged form, of relationships formed here and broken — at best, an absorption into the great ocean or fountain of being, impassive, impersonal, unconscious, irresponsive.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The enemies with whom we are familiar in these times, the enemies with whose rock we come into contact, are not worshippers of idols nor votaries of any of the grosser forms of superstition. On these they admit Christianity to be a great advance. They would scorn the notion of resorting to superstition and idolatry as the true solution of man's spiritual need. In comparison with these they admit the Christian faith to be both purer and loftier, still it is not their rock. They claim to have advanced beyond Christianity. Now I propose, in the spirit of these words of Moses, to compare the Christian faith with the principles of those who differ from it, and to show how its superiority must be and is acknowledged even by its enemies.

I. THE FORMATION OF CHARACTER. It is commonly allowed that the Christian faith produces the very highest type of character. There has never appeared upon earth a being whose character could be placed alongside that of Jesus Christ. No doubt it is possible to find outside of the ranks of Christians not a few who are not only inoffensive in their manner of life, and have characters unstained by any decided vice, but also men of conspicuous honour and adorned with virtue in a degree which puts many a professed Christian to shame. But in reference to such it is to be noticed, first, that the qualities by which such men are distinguished are precisely those which Christianity teaches men to value and to practise, and that it is just in the degree in which they have developed the virtues of Christianity that they are held in honour; and secondly, it is to be remembered that it is hard to say how far these virtues, when manifested within the pale of Christendom, are not attributable to Christian influences.

II. THE INWARD SATISFACTION AND PEACE WHICH THEY YIELD TO THE SOUL. There is a craving in the human heart which seeks something it cannot itself provide, a thirst which does not find in the heart which feels it any well at which it may be quenched. There are outside of the Christian faith endless methods of ministering to that thirst — the delights of love, the fellowship of kindred minds, the pursuit of knowledge, the gratifying of the desires of the mind and heart, the excitement of pleasure, and many others besides, but is there any one of them all which meets this inward craving of the human heart so directly or so completely as it is met in the gift of a new and everlasting life in God through Jesus Christ our Lord? Dig what wells you will in this wilderness world; hew out what cisterns you choose to gather up in them your little stores of earth-drawn pleasure — do they yield you anything to be compared to the streams of living water flowing from the smitten rock? Have they ever furnished you a heart satisfaction to be compared as to quality and permanency with the heart satisfaction felt by the Christian in realising the love of God towards him, and his own entrance into the Divine life in Christ? Again, there are dark and difficult problems which present themselves to the soul when pondering its present position and future destiny; and although there are some who preach that it is the highest duty of man to go forward in his appointed path with only an awful sense of the darkness surrounding him, and the mystery before him, is it not a better position far to feel that the most important questions have been answered, that the proper goal of man has been revealed, and that the path which leads to it has been made clear?

III. THE SUPPORT AFFORDED IN THE EMERGENCIES OF LIFE.

1. In seasons of danger, in the hour when shipwreck seems inevitable, or sudden illness seizes on the trembling body, or pestilence is perilously near, who manifests the greatest sense of safety?

2. Or again, in times of deep distress, when earthly disappointment has impoverished you, or affliction has weakened and wasted you, or bereavement has left you mourning and lonely, do you know of any stay which you would then so much desire, as that possessed by the Christian?

3. Lastly, who, think you, is so well prepared to die as he who has committed his soul to the care and keeping of Christ? Is he as likely to be troubled with dying regrets as you who have not done so? Do you think that he will lament in that hour the time spent in prayer and in study of God's Word, his days of humiliation and repentance, his strivings, self-denials, and sacrifices for Christ, and the labour put forth to win conformity to the mind of Christ?

(G. Robson, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. A MAN'S GOD IS THE ROCK OF HIS BEING.

1. Because He is the most settled object to him. Souls cling to their religion as limpets to the rocks; the more furious the billows the faster their hold.

2. Because He is the object most relied upon by him. In Him the soul's affections centre, on Him its highest hopes are based.

II. THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS THE BEST ROCK OF SOULS.

1. He is the grandest Rock. All others are vanities and lies.

2. He is the most durable. All others decay.

3. He is the most accessible. Always within reach even of those most distant from Him.

III. THE SUPERIORITY OF THIS ROCK IS WELL ATTESTED —

1. By those who have tried it.

2. By those who reject it. What says Rousseau? "The majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the Gospel hath its influence on my heart. Review the works of our philosophers, and with all their pomp of diction, how mean, how contemptible are they compared with Scripture!"

(Homilist.)

The great lawgiver, forbidden to enter the promised land, takes a leave the most affectionate of those whom he had led through the wilderness; and bequeaths them, as his best legacy, exhortations to steadfastness in obeying the true Jehovah. There were gathered within the range of his vision the future fortunes of Israel; and he alternately rejoiced and lamented, as with prophetic gaze he marked the advancement and depression of God's chosen people. Nothing but their own waywardness and rebellion could interfere with their prosperity and happiness; and therefore, when he observed how the imagery of disaster crowded the yet distant scene, he brake into the exclamation: "How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them and the Lord had shut them up?" He saw that in place of carrying themselves successfully in the battle, the Israelites would yield to an inconsiderable force, but why was this, unless because wickedness had provoked God to withdraw His protection and His strength? Was it because the false deities of the heathens were mightier than the Jehovah of Israel? Indeed, the very adversaries themselves did not advance such an assertion. They knew, and they confessed, that their sources of strength were inferior to those to which the Israelites might apply, and would not therefore themselves refer their success to the greater prowess of the power they adored. "Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." And well then might the lawgiver, whilst just on the point of being gathered to his fathers, expostulate indignantly with Israel on the madness of that idolatry into which he foresaw they would run. We regard as emphatically the enemies of Christianity those who absolutely reject revelation, and those who (professedly receiving it) explain away its chief mysteries. The first is the Deist, who will have nothing but what he is pleased to call natural religion, and who denies that God has mane any disclosure to His creatures but what is given in the universe or on the tablet of conscience; the second is the philosophising Christian, whether he style himself the Arian or the Socinian or the Unitarian, who in some way or other impugns the doctrine of a Trinity, and therefore removes from the Bible the great article of an atonement for sin. We say these are the chief enemies of Christianity, and it is from these we are to seek a testimony to the excellence of that creed which we ourselves profess to have adopted. And therefore through the remainder of our discourse there will be two great truths at whose illustration we must labour — the first, that the rock of the Deist "is not as our Rock," the Deist "himself being judge"; and the second, that the rock of the Unitarian "is not as our Rock," the Unitarian "himself being judge."

1. Now, we shall begin with an argument which is applicable to every species of infidelity, whether it take the form of a total or only of a partial rejection of Scripture. We should have no Deism, if the contents of revelation were not designed to humble us and produce self-denial; we should have no Socinianism, if the doctrine of a Trinity in unity demanded not the unqualified submission of our reason. But then it ought to be evident, that no religious system would be adapted to our nature and condition which did not set itself vigorously against our pride and our passions; it ought to be evident, that without some great moral renovation, a thorough change in the dispositions and tendencies with which we are born, we cannot be fitted for intercourse with such a Being as God must necessarily be, nor for the enjoyment of such happiness as can alone be looked for as His gift to His creatures. It ought therefore to commend itself to us as an incontrovertible truth, that Christianity is worthy our credence and our veneration, in exact proportion as it tends to the production of humility and of holiness; and if in any way, whether direct or indirect, there be put forth a confession that Christianity is more adapted than some other system to the subduing the haughtiness and corruption of our nature, we may affirm of such confession that it amounts to a direct testimony of the superiority of our religion. And we maintain that this very confession is furnished by the rejection of Christianity. We find the causes of rejection in the humiliating and sanctifying tendencies of the religion. We trace Deism and Socinianism, and under these every form of infidelity, to a cherished dislike to truth, which demands the subjugation of self and the prostration of reason. What, then, does the rejection prove, but that the embraced system is more complacent to pride and more indulgent to passion? And if it prove this, it is itself nothing less than a testimony on the side of Christianity. We can challenge the very adversaries to bear testimony; we can wring a witness for the superiority of Christianity as an engine adapted for the exigencies of a disorganised creation, from the secret, yet discernible, reasons which cause a land to be deformed by so many shapes of infidelity. Oh! knowing that those reasons have to do with the humbling, the sanctifying tendencies of the religion of Jesus, and that consequently what is substituted for this religion must less tend to humble and less tend to sanctify, and therefore be less fitted for such beings as ourselves, we can triumphantly look our opponents in the face, and unflinchingly declare that "their rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges." We draw, then, a contrast between what was effected towards the amelioration of human condition while heathenism had the world to itself, and what has been done since Christianity gained partial sway. We are not afraid to refer it to the decision of the most inveterate opponent of Christianity, whether civilisation has not advanced with a most rapid march wheresoever the Gospel has gained a footing, and whether the institutions of a country professedly Christian could be exchanged for those of the most renowned in heathen times, without the loss of what we hold dearest in our charter and the surrender of what sheds its best beauty around our homes. We have never heard of so thorough and consistent an advocate of the sufficiency of reason, that he would contend for the superior civilisation, the finer jurisprudence, the greater civil liberty, the purer domestic happiness, attained to whilst reason was not interfered with by communications which avouched themselves from God. And this is enough to warrant our claiming him as a witness to the superiority of our Rock. We contend that in the possession of Christianity alone lies the difference between ourselves and the nations whom we have vastly outstripped. We do not excel them in the fire of genius and the vigour of intellect. The agency of reason alone is in no degree comparable to that of revelation, when the ends proposed are those eagerly sought by every foe of evil and every friend of man. And oh! then, is it not a confession which warrants us in affirming when opposing such as reject the Gospel of Christ — "Their rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges"?

2. But we are aware that in this last argument we have not taken the highest ground which we are entitled to occupy. We have striven to show you that an acknowledgment may be wrung from the Deist to the worth of Christianity, considered in regard to its power to promote the well being of society; but this is not the most important point of view under which we have to consider Christianity. The excellence of a religion should be tried by its power of preparing man for death; it is in directing us how to provide for the future that a religious system is valuable; and though it may confer collateral benefits and improve the temporal condition of a people, we can form no estimate of its worth as a religion till we have examined it as a guide for immortality. And if Deism and Christianity are to be compared on a deathbed, we shall readily gain the testimony which is asserted in our text. It will not then be denied, that persons of every age and of every rank in life are continually meeting death with calmness and even with joy, the principles of Christianity being those by which they are sustained, and its /lopes those by which they are animated. There are few histories more thrilling or fuller of horror than those of the last hours of Paine or Voltaire. And where there has been neither affected indifference nor excruciating dread, there has been an utter want of tranquillity and gladness. Oh! we shall wait in vain to have these produced from the deathbed of the Deist. We are willing that the records of Deism should be searched; but we are confident that not an instance can be found in which the dying unbeliever could exclaim with rapture or even with serenity — "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory. And therefore is the Deist a witness to the worth of Christianity; therefore do we appeal to him, in evidence that the religion of reason is not to be compared with the religion of revelation.

3. Now, we consider that most, if not all, of this latter reasoning is as applicable to the case of the Unitarian as that of the Deist. We believe that, where there has been rejection of the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, the doctrine of an atonement for sin, there is never any of that calmness and confidence in dying which may continually be seen where the trust rests on the great Propitiation. "The rock" of the Unitarian "is not as our Rock," the Unitarian "himself being judge"; for the man who thinks to be his own peacemaker with God can exhibit none of that assurance when passing into eternity which the very weakest possess who know that their sins have been laid on a Surety. The Unitarian looks to be saved by his repentance and obedience, no respect being had to the merits of a Mediator. Now, repentance and obedience are an important part of our system, as well as that of the Unitarian; we hold, as well as he, that no man can be saved unless he repent and do "works meet for repentance"; and it were absurd to say that the motive to good living is not at the least as strong to those who trust in Christ, as to those who trust in themselves; so that our system embraces all which that of the Unitarian embraces, whilst it adds doctrines which, if true, cannot be omitted without ruin, and which, if false, serve only to strengthen us in that system on which our acceptance is to rest. If then the Unitarian be right, he has no advantage over us — repentance and obedience being presented at least equally under both systems; but if the Unitarian be wrong, we have unspeakably the advantage over him; we have a Surety, in whose perfect satisfaction to find refuge when the worthlessness of all that man can effect for himself is being proved before the Judge of quick and dead. What then has the Unitarian to say of our Rock, except that it is stronger than his own? We have been engaged in showing you how arguments in favour of Christianity may be wrested from our adversaries; it behoves us to take heed that arguments against it be not derivable from ourselves.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. There is a difference between the people of God and others, which the latter discover; a difference of CHARACTER and condition of which they are aware, and which they are sometimes forced to acknowledge. I do not say that this distinction is visible in all professors of religion. How should it be? It is not real in all. There are those who differ from others only in professing to be different from them. Nor do I say that this distinction is as manifest in all real Christians as it is in some; nor in these equally manifest at all times; but there exists, and sinners see that there exists, a class of persons in the world who, in their spirit, and principles, and consistent acting in accordance with their principles, in their desires, aversions and aims, and in all that goes to constitute character, are different from them and from the generality of mankind; as also in their hopes, consolations, supports, and sources of enjoyment. An intelligent and accomplished young man, on his deathbed, told a clergyman who visited him that he had been an infidel and a profligate, and that in the whole course of his infidelity there was but one thing that disturbed him, and he could answer every argument for Christianity but one, and that was the pious example and prayers of a believing mother. The perception of this difference exerts this power, because sinners discern that in so far as Christians are different from them, they are superior to them, have the decided advantage over them.

I. In point of: CHARACTER, sinners see and admit the superiority of the real Christian. Compare John the Baptist with Herod, or Mary, the sister of Lazarus, with Herodias or her daughter Salome, the dancing girl. Look first at Paul, and then at Festus or even Agrippa. You see what the difference is, and where the superiority lies. Or look at some living Christian and then at yourself, and make a comparison. Look at his spirit and then at your own; his spirit of meekness and yours of resentment; his humility and your pride; his disinterestedness and your selfishness. His aim is to do good, yours to get good. To enrich, gratify, or aggrandise yourself is your object. His is to glorify God and bless mankind. The love of Christ constrains him; but it is not so with you. Now, whose spirit is the more excellent? whose principles of action the more worthy? which character the superior? Do you not feel your own inferiority? Yes, and sinners do often secretly despise themselves for it. Here they see one denying and labouring to subdue his appetites, while they to all theirs are giving the rein; and the time that they spend in vanity, they see others occupying in visits of charity and offices of kindness to the poor and neglected; and they know that they are wrong, and that the others are right. Look at the devotional part of the Christian's character. He consecrates a portion of each day to secret communion with God, to prayer, confession of sin and contrition for it, to the grateful recollections of God's goodness to him, to the serious reading of the Word of God, to meditation and self-examination, and to intercession for you and others. Now, you have no such habits of devotion. You live without God in the world. Here is a difference between you and the Christian. On which side is the superiority? Do you not decide that the conduct of the Christian is the more filial, the more affectionate, grateful, reasonable, and worthy? Look now at the Christian in his family; and recollect then what you are in yours. Hear the expression of thanksgiving and the invocation of blessing, accompanying the reception of the bounties of Divine providence. See night and morning the household assembled to hear the Word of God, and to unite in the offering of prayer and praise. Is not this manner of conducting the affairs of a family preferable to yours?

II. I pass on to THE CONDITION of the Christian. If he is better than his neighbour, so it is better with him.(1) In regard to safety, is not the condition of the Christian superior? Have not you something to apprehend, but has he any cause for fear, to whom God says, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God"? He who has God for him is safer from natural evil than any other; and safer from sin surely is he to whom it is promised, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, My grace is sufficient for you."(2) In regard to peace, I would ask if the Christian has not the advantage of you? If the testimony of God is to be relied on, he has all the advantage implied in the difference between great peace and no peace, for "great peace have they who love Thy law," it is said in one place; and in another, "there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked"; he being justified by faith has peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; and the peace of God that passes understanding keeps his heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Do you know anything of such tranquillity? Is not this far before the philosophic calm? How is it that in seasons of danger, in the hour of apprehended shipwreck, in the sudden invasion of sickness, or in the time of impending pestilence, men fall upon their knees, betake themselves to the Bible, and ask an interest in the prayers of Christians? Do they not thereby testify that the rock of their reliance is not as our Rock?(3) In point of consolation in affliction, and support under the trials of life, has not the Christian an acknowledged advantage over every other? Underneath him are the everlasting arms. What equal support have you? Have you any, any refuge to run into for shelter when the storms of sorrow beat furiously upon you? Any voice like that, of the Son of Man, to say to you in your desponding moments, "be of good cheer"? Do you think that you are as well prepared to die as he who has committed his soul to the care and keeping of Christ? Do you think that he is as likely to be troubled with dying regrets as you?(4) Shall we go on one step further? That brings us to the bar of God. In what character, think you, will it be most desirable for you to appear there?

(W. Nairns, D. D.)

Who Israel's Rock was, we know — Christ. And He is our Rock too, — for strength, for protection, for spiritual supplies, for a refuge to hide in, — we have no other. And He will be ours upon the terms upon which He was willing to be a Rock unto Israel; namely, upon a preserved covenant, a separation, a keeping ourselves wholly unto Him, a forsaking of all forbidden alliances, a renouncing of all other trusts. The words will suggest to be considered, not only the sufficiency of the believer's Rock in itself, but also its confessed superiority over all other dependencies. And first, as to the image itself. The comparison of God to a rock is of frequent occurrence in Scripture. The reason for the selection of this image no doubt is to be found in the natural scenery of Palestine, which is often a key to the right understanding of much Scripture poetry. The Israelites both loved and were justly proud of their rocks. They stood, as it were, the guardians of their rich and fertile valleys, they were the source of their rivers whose water refreshed their fields, and amidst the strong munitions of these rocks they found a refuge from invading foes. The walls and fortresses of their cities, and in later days the glorious temple itself, rested on the strength of those deep foundations. The moral associations, therefore, which would be called up in the mind of a pious Jew by the image of a rock, would be those of stability, permanence, protection, blessing. He could not look on the hills as they stood round about Jerusalem, or upon the rocks as they frowned ruggedly on his native shore, without seeing in them types of that invisible presence which compassed him on every side, without remembering that God was his Rock, and that the Most High God was his Redeemer. And like happy associations are called up in the Christian mind when we think of Christ as our Rock. Thus the image suggests the security, strength, and firm foundation for our religious trust and hope. These announcements are very welcome to the first feelings of our religious nature. In matters relating to our salvation we all feel the need of a sure footing. We like not to build our house for heaven on the sand; on a yielding, treacherous, shifting basis of rational conjecture, or not very improbable hypothesis. We must have our goings set upon a Rock, and this Rock we have in Christ. He must have lain in the bosom of the Father, who could reveal such things, and yet He must be no intangible thing, no irrational thing, no mere phantom from the spirit world; He must be God manifest in the flesh. Again, in having Christ for their Rock, believers feel they have a sure defence against all their enemies. Against their temptations, lest they should prevail; or their fears, lest they should enslave; or their trials, lest they should oppress and cast down. The rocks of Palestine abounded in deep hollows or caverns, in which the people often betook themselves for shelter against the invading foe. And the same idea is employed in Scripture to describe a spiritual refuge. Thus David exclaims, — "But the Lord is my defence, and my God is the Rock of my refuge." Whilst Isaiah in a passage strikingly expressive of the good man's safety under all outward temptations says, — "He dwelleth on high, his place of defence is the munitions of rocks." The Rock of our salvation, then, in things spiritual, is also the Rock of our defence in things temporal. Godliness hath the promise of both worlds, and though it be true that the storms of time and adversity may come upon us, and breach upon breach may shake the strong foundations of our spiritual trust; yet even against these outward ills God condescends to be our Rock. He knows that our souls would faint if some merciful limit were not placed to the power of our enemies to hurt us, or to the strength of our temptations to overcome us, or to the grievousness of the chastening which tries our spirit, or to the greatness of the fears which affright our souls; and therefore in all our trials and adversities, whensoever they oppress us, He bids us to our refuge, leads us to the Rock that is higher than we are, and higher than our dangers too. And there we dwell safely; we feel as those who are drawn up into God's secret place, covered with His feathers, screened under His shadow, hidden in the hollow of His hand. "And a man shall be as a hiding- place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; a river of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Once more, we contemplate the text as showing that there is in Christ our Rock a rich provision for all spiritual comforts and necessities. Three kinds of produce are mentioned in Scripture as coming from the rocks of Judea, which it can be no strain to regard as strikingly emblematical of what we have in Christ. The first is water. "He brought streams out of the rocks," it is said in the seventy-eighth Psalm, "and caused water to run down like rivers." Then another produce of the rock was honey and oil. "He made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock." There is not much in the present physical geography of Palestine to say much upon this allusion; however, it may suffice for general accuracy of illustration to observe, that olive trees were wont to thrive most on rocky soils, and the aromatic plants and shrubs to which bees are naturally attracted, abounded in the mountainous parts of Judea, and it has been suggested that nothing is more possible than that deposits of honey should sometimes be found in the cavities of the rocks. Who sees not the aptness of the emblem to represent Christ? "How sweet are Thy words unto my mouth; yea, sweeter than honey unto my taste." Gold, and silver, and precious stones were among the produce of these rocks. "Surely," says Job, "there is a vein for the silver, and a place for the gold, where they find it"; but how deep must men dig into the heart of the natural rock before they will find such treasures as David found. "I love Thy commandments; more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold." "The law of Thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver." Yes, wisdom may be found of us, but it must be searched for as for hid treasure; "and this treasure is hid in Christ." Whatever connects man with God, or the sinner with his hope, everything comes to us from the rock of Christ. And yet the half of its affluent and hidden stores has not been laid open to us. But we must not pass over without noticing the compared view with the believer's Rock here suggested, or rather its confessed superiority over all other dependencies. "For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." Of course, the primary allusion here is to the gods of idolatry, the blocks of wood and stone worshipped of heathen nations. But the principle of comparison will manifestly admit of being applied much further, and so made to embrace the trusts of all who know not God, or who reject the merciful overture of His Gospel. The comparison to be instituted, therefore, may be said to be generally between Christ as the revealed medium and method of a sinner's justification on the one hand, and any of the unauthorised methods of acceptance which men may have invented for themselves on the other.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

I. THE "ROCK" OF A MAN IS THAT ON WHICH HE BUILDS HIS HOPE; THAT IN WHICH HE SEEKS HIS SAFETY; that in which he finds his rest; that from which he looks for his satisfaction and his pleasure. The world has many "rocks," but they are all distinguished by this one characteristic - they are "of the earth, earthy." They are in the world, and of the world; and with the world they terminate. Men set up for themselves various rocks. The rich man's stronghold is his wealth; the great man's confidence is his power; the self-righteous man's vain trust is his own fancied goodness. But all agree in this, that it is something other than God, something short of God, on which they repose. God is not Himself the Rock of their confidence. They look not to Him for the portion of their souls, the joy of their hearts. If in trouble, they turn to the creature; God, their Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, is left out in all their schemes of happiness, and in all their anticipations of future good. But it is not so with those whom God hath taught. He hath taught them as the first fundamental lesson in the school of true wisdom, that their souls need an infinite portion, in order that they may be filled with good. He has taught them, that that infinite portion was originally Himself, but that they lost that portion when they fell from their God. He has taught them, that in themselves and of themselves they are "poor, and blind, and miserable, and wretched, and naked." They have no righteousness in which to appear before His pure eyes; they have no means in themselves to provide either against life's vicissitudes or eternity's disclosures.

II. Having thus the Rock of the believer, and the rocks of the unbeliever, side by side, suffer us to challenge the whole world to the controversy; AND UPON THEIR OWN SHOWING WE WILL PROVE THE TRANSCENDENCY OF OUR ROCK AS COMPARED WITH THEIRS. Were we indeed to take the testimony of those who have tried and proved the Rock of salvation — and those who have tried and proved it can surely best estimate its worth; were we to take the testimony of the ransomed spirits of the just, that now surround the Rock of their salvation in heaven, they would with one voice and with one spirit declare, "There is none in heaven in comparison with Him; none is worthy of a thought, or a hope, or an affection, in comparison with Him."

1. We bring forward, then, the indirect and undesigned testimony of the world in favour of the Rock of our salvation, in the first instance, in that the world gives to that Rock a measure of respect and reverence wholly inconsistent with the manner in which, in their heart and life, they treat that Rock. Why is it that you find that for the most part the men who never give their hearts to Christ, nor their lives to His service, yet render to Him an indirect and reluctant homage? They pay certain reverence to His day, certain regard to His sanctuary, certain homage to His ordinances and His laws. They will "do many things" on behalf of the religion of Jesus Christ; and yet, in the face of all these concessions, they withhold from Him their heart, and they "will not have Him to reign over them." They themselves, then, "being the judges," they admit to the religion of Christ, that there is in it a power and a truth and a majesty that they cannot wholly overcome or repudiate.

2. This, too, is the more strikingly shown when we further bring forward that respect and homage which they often pay to the worth and to the excellency of the true servants of Christ. Where, too, is the bold, daring scoffer that has not oftentimes felt an inward conviction of the worth and excellency of the servants of Christ, even though he has been able to stifle the expression of his inward feeling? "Themselves being judges," the man of God had an elevation, a purity, a dignity that they knew not, and yet the worth and the power of which they could not but feel.

3. And much more is this indirect tribute of the enemies of "our Rock" to the Rock of our salvation often rendered when the servants of God have passed to their rest, and their obnoxious proximity and their rebuking example no more disturb the false peace of the men of this world. Over the grave of the true and undissembled servant of God, how seldom, even from the lips of the bad, you hear anything but respect and love! "The memory of the just is blessed."

4. But we have another testimony rendered by the worldly and the wicked to the Rock of the Christian that is more striking; and that is, the high standard that they set up for the righteous to observe. What is more common than to find men of the world seeing with an eagle eye any little defection or deviation from high principle in the soldier of the cross? — saying — "It would not have mattered if he had not professed to be religious; hut for one who calls himself a Christian thus to behave, it is intolerable."

5. But further than this: you find the world again and again bringing forward against Christians charges, that if they had been incurred by any of their own company, they would never have thought of doing so much as adduce. What they would regard in the world as almost evidence of spirit and of high-mindedness, they cannot tolerate in the Christian.

6. But there is a further testimony, that the world cannot withhold in spite of itself — which it is, thank God, daily giving; and that is, the multitudes who are brought out of the world, and brought to the Rock of our hope. The Redeemer draws one and another to Himself; and that, not by holding out to them earthly bribes and temporal inducements, but in the face of the world's scoff and frown, and often of the loss of reputation and of every earthly advantage. How many a time has the messenger of Christ been summoned to the bed of sickness! how many a time has the trembling and dying man then begun to cry — "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I!" Happy for him if he hath net begun too late, and if the house of his confidence is not falling in ruins around him, when it is too late to "fly for refuge to the hope set before him."

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THESE RESPECTIVE "ROCKS"? Of course, it is clear to you that one refers to the rock of the world, and the other to the Rook of the Christian.

1. What is the rock of the world? What is it that the world seems to depend upon? There are a great many people in the world who are very indifferent to God; that is, they do not have God in all their thoughts, and do not seek to please God in all their works. And there are a great many people who seem to think that God is altogether indifferent to them; and therefore they live and they die, careless and regardless of God their Saviour. "Tush, how shall God know it?" Now, this is one of the rocks of unconverted men. But there are others who take a different view of the matter. These persons do not deny that God sees everything, that He knows the heart, that "from Him no secrets are hid"; and therefore they seek for another rock, and begin at once to magnify God's mercy: "God is merciful; He never meant to condemn the world." That is true; but not as they say it. A third class will not venture to deny this, but declare — "No man is infallible; every man is liable to mistake; why should it be supposed that you who are advocating such strictness of living, such holiness of life, should be right when there are such multitudes that hold a contrary opinion?" In other words, these persons say: "What so many people think cannot be wrong. Now, does not the Scripture most plainly tell us, that the way to heaven is the way in which very few people go — that it is a "narrow" road, and that the great bulk of men go in the wide road which leads to hell? And therefore what is the use of talking of what numbers do? If you had five thousand of your acquaintance in hell with yourselves, it would only add to your misery and not help your happiness; and if you stood with only one in heaven, whom you never saw before, your happiness would not be the less. Then again, there are many who acknowledge that it must be an individual question after all; and therefore, instead of considering what other people do, they dwell entirely upon what they do themselves. Hence we find a great body of people declaring that they have done no harm, — thus building upon their morality, and thinking to raise upon it such a temple as the Lord will dwell in. How very moral were the Scribes and Pharisees! There is something more necessary than mere outward moral conduct.

2. Instead of dwelling longer upon the rocks of the world, let me turn at once to that which is intended by the "Rock" of the believer. Christ is that Rock. But it may be well to examine into the special benefits of this Rock. In the first place, it is in Christ that we really learn the nature of sin. So great is sin that God could only pardon it by the death of His dear Son; in Christ, therefore, I see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, engraved as on a rock, even in the side whence flowed the water and the blood. Further: I read also God's mercy — not man's mercy, but the tender mercy of our God, tempered with His justice. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other," in Christ. What claims, then, has this Rock upon our attention?

II. WHEREIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO ROCKS MAY BE SAID TO CONSIST. I might mention that all other rocks end in doubt, but this in certainty. None of the rocks to which I have referred can give us security in the last day; but the Saviour has told us, that "whosoever trusteth in Him shall never be ashamed." There is no disappointment for those who are really in Christ. And we will not stay to consider what it shall be hereafter, but we may consider what it is now. Under any other circumstances than that of seeing clearly our interest in Christ, our present life must be a life of constant anxiety, if it be accompanied with any thought concerning the future. But as regards the believer, he has peace, and it is an abiding peace. "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind" is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Once more, I may say, there will be none of that disappointment which we so constantly find happening among men of the world, who have chosen as their rock some of the pleasures, or outward circumstances of life; for we know that in Christ we have all that we can require. "All things are ours; for we are Christ's, and Christ is God's." But just observe that there are others who are called upon to testify of these facts. "For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." Our enemies are constrained to acknowledge that they wish they believed as we believe, for then they would be happy.

(H. M. Villiers, M. A.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. JEHOVAH IS SUPREMELY WORTHY OF OUR CONFIDENCE AND DEVOTION.

1. He is the source of our being (Psalm 100:3; Acts 17:29). The supporting as well as the producing cause of created existence.

2. The source of blessing.

(1)Redemption.

(2)Sustenance.

(3)Instruction.

(4)Safety.

3. He deserves our most humble and hearty respect and confidence.

II. JEHOVAH'S GRACIOUS DEALINGS FURNISH A PROPER THEME FOR HIS SERVANTS' PRAISE.

1. Their benefit only is intended, not God's, in His dispensations towards them.

2. They only are benefited, not God, who needs nothing, and can receive no favour from them.

3. They deserve not such benefits, either in whole or in part.

4. They can make no adequate return to cancel even the smallest part of their obligations.

5. Gratitude is their proper feeling, and praise the proper expression of it.

III. JEHOVAH'S EXCELLENCE EXTORTS, AND SHALL EXTORT, THE HOMAGE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF EVEN HIS ENEMIES. Hear what is recorded in the case of the Egyptian magicians (Exodus 8:18, 19, and Exodus 9:11); of Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27, 28, and 10:16, 17); of Pharaoh's host (Exodus 14:25); of Balaam (Numbers 23:7, 8, 18-24); of the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:8); of Baal's worshippers (1 Kings 18:39); of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:29, and Daniel 4:28-37); of Darius (Daniel 6:26, 27). Conclusion —

1. The subject suggests serious inquiry. Is the Rock of Ages our Rock? Do we esteem Him, trust Him, devote ourselves to Him, etc.?

2. The subject offers serious admonition (ver. 4).

3. The subject gives us a solemn warning —

(1)Against rebellion (vers. 32-35).

(2)Against indifference (vers. 46, 47).

(3)Against apostasy (vers. 15-25).

4. The subject encourages humble confidence and invigorating hope (ver. 43; see Deuteronomy 33:25-29).

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Sketches of Sermons.
I. ILLUSTRATE THE METAPHOR.

1. When we speak of God as a Rock in reference to Himself, the ideas are such as these —

(1)Strength.

(2)Stability.

(3)Perpetuity.

2. Consider the metaphor in reference to what God is to His believing children.

(1)The Rock of their defence.

(2)The Rock of their foundation. They rely on and trust in Him.

(3)Their Rock of shelter and shade.

(4)The Rock of their supplies.

II. THE TRIUMPHANT COMPARISON WHICH IS INSTITUTED. To the pagan, infidel, sensualist, etc., your rock is not as our Rock. You have not the security, the sensible enjoyments, the supplies — in one word, the happiness which the people of God possess.

1. We appeal to your experience. What changes do you profess to have experienced? What evils removed? What principles implanted?

2. We appeal to your enjoyments. What peace — what comfort — what hope — what real bliss?

3. We appeal to your practice. From what follies and sins have you been delivered? Are your principles more pure? Spirit, conversation, temper, etc.

4. We appeal to our advantages in sickness and death. What security — what ecstasies — what clear enrapturing prospects! You know that your Rock is not, etc.Application —

1. Invite the sinner to choose the Lord for the Rock of his salvation. Flee to Him by repentance. Build on Him by faith in Christ Jesus.

2. Let the Christian be satisfied with his choice. The everlasting God is his refuge.

(Sketches of Sermons.)

1. We find sceptics and unbelievers generally very loud in praise of the progress of our modern world. They talk largely of the mighty strides science, knowledge, and practical wisdom have made in these last times. What is this but the concession that their rock is not as our Rock?

2. Again, how striking is the testimony which they give in their behaviour in trial and when brought face to face with death! Who has ever known a sound and faithful Christian to change his religion in the last extremities of life? But it is quite otherwise with those who build on some other than the Christian Rock. Then the gay Lord Chesterfield sympathises with the words of Solomon, that all this world is vanity and vexation of spirit. Then Byron acknowledges that whatever he had been, "'Twere something better not to be." Then Talleyrand confesses that he has nothing left except great fatigue of body and mind, a profound sentiment of discouragement for the future and disgust for the past. Then Hobbes declares, "Were I master of the world, I would give it all to live one day longer." Then Paine in his dreadful loneliness lifts his wild cry to that Jesus whom he blasphemed. Then Voltaire sends for a priest, curses his brethren in unbelief as contributors to his wretchedness, and dies in dread complaint of abandonment by God and man. Then Hume cannot bear to be alone, because of the terrors that torment him in the absence of his jesting friends.

3. In like manner I might refer to the myriads of conversions from the sceptical and unbelieving world to the reverent acceptance of our Christian faith and hope. The bloody Saul of Tarsus; the wayward, sensual , etc. We think of Lord Littleton and Gilbert West sitting down to write essays in confutation of certain great events recorded in the New Testament, and becoming so thoroughly convinced by their examinations that they surrendered all their scepticism and turned their essays into noble treatises in vindication of the Christian cause.

5. Christians, you have made no mistake in giving your hearts' confidence to the religion of Jesus. You have planted your foundations on the solid Rock. Only maintain your hold and dependence on it; and when the revilers of Newton's faith are hopelessly crying, "God of Sir Isaac Newton, have mercy upon me!" you shall be saying with the dying Payson: "I swim — I swim — in a flood of glory!"

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

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