Hebrews 12:25
See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if the people did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject Him who warns us from heaven?
God's Word not to be RefusedCharles Haddon Spurgeon Hebrews 12:25
A Lesson from the Great PanicC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 12:25-29
Acceptable ServiceC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 12:25-29
Acceptable ServiceL. D. Bevan, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
Fear Due to AuthorityJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.Hebrews 12:25-29
Godly FearJ. Clifford, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
Hear! HearC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 12:25-29
Our Need of Divine GraceW. D. Horwood.Hebrews 12:25-29
Refusing GodJ. Cumming, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
Refusing God's VoiceA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
ReverenceHebrews 12:25-29
Service in the Kingdom of GodG. Lawson.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Doctrine of Christ not to be RefusedG. Lawson.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Gospel as a PowerHomilistHebrews 12:25-29
The Immovable KingdomG. L. Taylor, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Immovable KingdomJohn Hartley.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Immovable KingdomL. D. Bevan, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Immovableness of the Gospel DispensationH. Melvill, B. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Kingdom that Cannot be MovedW. Baxendale.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Plea of the GospelL. D. Bevan, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Shaking and the KingdomH. Bonar.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Shaking of Sinai and CalvaryL. D. Bevan, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Shakings of JehovahF. B. Meyer, B. A.Hebrews 12:25-29
The True Spirit of ServiceHebrews 12:25-29
The Voice of God in the Vicissitudes of HumanityCaleb Morris.Hebrews 12:25-29
The Word has not Done with UsJudge Hale.Hebrews 12:25-29
Things Passing and Things PermanentJ. Ker, D. D.Hebrews 12:25-29
Unheeded WarningsA. S. Froude.Hebrews 12:25-29
Where are His EarsHebrews 12:25-29
Yet Once MoreDealt Vaughan.Hebrews 12:25-29

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, etc. This paragraph exhibits a striking contrast between Sinai and Zion - the Mosaic and the Christian dispensations. The chief points of the contrast seem to be these:

1. The sensuous at Sinai is contrasted with the spiritual at Zion. At Sinai the manifestations were palpable, visible, audible (vers. 18, 19); at Zion they were heavenly, and to some extent invisible and inaudible. The former appealed chiefly to the senses, the latter to the soul.

2. The rigorous at Shoal is contrasted with the gracious at Zion. The former mountain was palpable, but no one of the people might draw near unto it, and if even a beast touched it it was to be stoned. The whole of the proceedings were awful and terrible. The revelation was of Law. Love was there, for love was the fountain of the Law; but Law, solemn and inflexible, and not love, was conspicuous. But at Zion, love and not Law was conspicuous. "The Law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." In the Christian dispensation grace is unmistakably clear and prominent. Here the voices are musical, the utterances are inviting.

3. The repellant at Sinai is contrasted with the attractive at Zion. At the giving of the Law, "they that heard entreated that no word more should be spoken unto them, And so fearful was the appearance that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake." But in this later dispensation men are drawn by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. To the sincere soul Christianity is bright, alluring, and blessed. Let us now consider the exalted privileges of sincere Christians as set forth in our text.

I. THEY ARE MEMBERS OF A DISTINGUISHED SOCIETY, "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." We do not apply these words to heaven, but to the Church upon earth, the kingdom of Christ here and now; because

(1) in the sacred Scriptures Mount Zion is not set forth as the antithesis of heaven, but of the Christian Church (Galatians 4:24-26); and

(2) the text affirms that Christians "are come unto Mount Zion," etc. It is the statement of a present fact, and not a future prospect. Mark the characteristics of this distinguished society.

1. It is spiritual in its constitution. "The heavenly Jerusalem." The qualification for admission into this society is spiritual, not carnal; a thing of character, not of circumstances; not physical descent from Abraham, but moral approximation to Christ. Its worship is not restricted by local limitations, or by conventional and artificial rules; but by spiritual conditions only. "The hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.... The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth," etc. (John 4:21-24). Wherever there is a devout soul, there is the true Zion. The contrite heart can consecrate for itself a temple wherever it may be.

2. It is hallowed by the Divine presence. "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem." Previous to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, the name Mount Zion "was applied exclusively to the eastern hill, or that on which the temple stood." The glory of the Holy Land to the pious Hebrew was Jerusalem, and the glory of Jerusalem was Mount Zion, and the glory of Mount Zion was the temple, and the glory of the temple was the Shechinah (cf. Psalm 48:1-3; Psalm 80:1; Psalm 132:13, 14). "The Lord is in his holy temple." "He sitteth between the cherubim. The Lord is great in Zion." But in a higher sense he dwells in the consecrated heart, and in the Christian Church. "Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them."

3. Its members are individually consecrated to God. "To the Church of the Firstborn." The firstborn of Israel were dedicated to God as his priests (Exodus 13:1, 2, 11-15). Afterwards the tribe of Levi was selected for this service instead of the firstborn of all the tribes (Numbers 3:11-13). And it is characteristic of every Christian that he is consecrated to God; he is a priest unto God. "Ye are a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ Ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession."

4. Its members are heirs to a glorious inheritance. All Christians are called "firstborn" because they are all heirs of the heavenly inheritance. "We are children of God: and if children, then heirs," etc. Heirs "unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled," etc.

5. Its members are individually known unto God. They "are written in heaven." They are "not yet citizens of heaven who have taken up their full citizenship by passing through death, but persons to whom their citizenship is assured, they being as yet here below." This enrolment in the book of life is the sign that the citizenship of the Christian is in heaven, and that his name and character are known unto God. "The Lord knoweth them that are his." The good Shepherd "calleth his own sheep by name" (cf. Luke 10:20).

II. THEY ARE FAVOURABLY RELATED TO ANGELIC BEINGS. "Ye are come... to an innumerable company of angels." Notice:

1. The great number of angelic beings. The text speaks of" myriads of angels," an expression which is employed to indicate a great multitude. St. John in spiritual vision saw "many angels round about the throne;... and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands."

2. The joyful spirit of angelic beings. "And to myriads, the festal host of angels." Alford: "Πανήγυρις is the complete, multitudinous, above all, jubilant, festal, and blissful assembly." "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." They rejoice in the progress of the cause of Christ, in the extension of his Church, in the triumphs of his cross and Spirit.

3. The gracious relation of angelic beings to Christians. Angels were present at Sinai in great numbers, and assisted at the giving of the Law (cf. Hebrews 2:2; Deuteronomy 33:2; Galatians 3:19). But their ministry upon that occasion seems to have been majestic and terrible, fitted to awe but not to attract men. But their relation to Christians is gracious and engaging. We are come unto them. Invisibly yet beneficently they are present with us as out' spiritual helpers. "Are they not all ministering spirits?" etc.

III. THEY ARE SYMPATHETICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE PERFECTED SPIRITS OF THE GOOD. "And to the spirits of just men made perfect." We have here:

1. The noblest portion of human beings. "Spirits." Having laid down their bodies at death, these thinking, reflecting, loving, worshipping spirits live on in consciousness and in blessedness.

2. A commendable character of human beings. "Spirits of just men." Not innocent; but pardoned and purified from sin through the mercy of God. Spirits of all the just who have entered the eternal state, from righteous Abel down to the spirit which last responded to the home-call.

3. The most excellent condition of human beings. "Spirits of just men made perfect." Made perfect, not in degree, but in character and condition. Perfect as being without error and sin, but not as being incapable of further progress. They are without sin, but they will grow in holiness. They are without error, but they will increase in knowledge. "Made perfect;" then how different are they from even the best of men in this world! Many an imperfection will be put off by us at death; many an error will be corrected soon as we see things in the clear light of eternity. "We are come... to the spirits of just men made perfect." They are not lost to us. Life and immortality are brought to light in the gospel. Deep and tender is their interest in us. We are one with them in sacred and blessed sympathy.

"E'en now by faith we join our hands
With those that went before;
And greet the blood-besprinkled bands
On the eternal shore."

(C. Wesley.)

IV. THEY HAVE GRACIOUS ACCESS TO THE GREAT GOD. "And to God the Judge of all." At Sinai the Israelites were terrified at the signs of his presence as Lawgiver; but in this later dispensation sincere Christians draw near to him with confidence even as the Judge of all. Nay, there is a sense in which this aspect of his being attracts them. They are yet in the world. They have enemies to contend against and wrongs to endure; and they look up to God as their righteous Judge, who will vindicate their right and their cause. We are come unto him. He is not a cold, impassive, remote being. He is near to us; he loves us, draws us to himself, and blesses us with his gracious presence. We confide in him, and realize our holiest impulses and most blessed experiences in fellowship with him.

V. THEY ARE SAVINGLY RELATED TO JESUS CHRIST. "And to Jesus the Mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel."

1. We are come to him as our Mediator. By him God is brought so near to us, and we are reconciled to God. Through him we enter into the possession of all our exalted and rich privileges.

2. We are come to him who effected his mediatorial work by the sacrifice of his own life. The blood of sprinkling is his own precious blood, which he shed for us. "We have our redemption through his blood," etc. And this blood speaks of the infinite love of God, and the full and free forgiveness of sins, and spiritual perfection, and endless progress and blessedness.

CONCLUSION. Great privileges involve great responsibilities. - W.J.

Refuse not Him that speaketh.
I. THE VOICE OF GOD IS VARIOUSLY UTTERED IN DIFFERENT AGES OF THE WORLD. God speaks to rational beings on earth in two general ways —

1. Natural. Everything around and within us is a book; all these are materials of knowledge — the soul alone is the reader, the student, the philosopher, the interpreter; a world is spread out by God, impressed with principles and laws for man, that he may look through them to Him.

2. Supernatural.

(1)Communications before Christ (Hebrews 1:1).

(2)Communications by Christ (Hebrews 2:1).

II. THE VOICE OF GOD PRODUCES GREAT CHANGES IN THE INSTITUTIONS OF MEN. There are two classes of things, and but two — things that may be shaken, and things that may not be shaken. There is one Being who exists by necessity — the absolute, immutable God. The nearer things are to God, the more fixed they are; the farther from God, the more changeable.

III. THE SHAKING OF THINGS MUTABLE IS DESIGNED TO LEAD MEN TO THE IMMUTABLE. The immutable things of Judaism are preserved in Christianity; its God, spirit of worship, law — these are retained.


(Caleb Morris.)



1. Who speaks unto us.

2. What He speaks.

3. From whence He speaks.(1) It's not man, but God; not Moses, but Christ: the law indeed was by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ. The majesty and power of Him who speaks is such as angels are bound to attend and obey with all humble submission; and shall we worms, nay, dust and ashes, refuse to hear this glorious Lord?(2) The matter that He speaks and we hear is the best, the most sweet, the most comfortable, and the most excellent; never better things seen, or heard, or understood by the heart of man. The gospel is a doctrine of profoundest wisdom, or greatest love and mercy, and of highest concernment, and most conducing to our everlasting good. And shall we reject it? Shall we sin against so great a majesty, so great a mercy? Sins against the mercies of God so freely tendered to us in Jesus Christ, are the most heinous of all others. Let us tremble to think of these sins, and those punishments which they must suffer that are guilty of them.(3) He speaks from heaven; for the gospel is a mystery hid from the beginning of the world, and was brought unto us from the bosom of the Father, by His only begotten Son, and by the Holy Ghost; it's the clearest manifestation of God's deepest counsels concerning man's eternal estate, and of His greatest love to sinful wretches, the brightest light that ever shined from heaven; yet we hear it, and most men regard it not, but reject it to their everlasting woe.

(G. Lawson.)

! —


1. The excellence of the word. It claims obedient attention.

2. The readiness of Satan to prevent our receiving the Divine word.

3. Our own indisposition to receive the holy, heavenly message.

4. We have rejected too long already. It is to be feared that we may continue to do so; but our right course is to hearken at once.

5. The word comes in love to our souls; let us therefore heed it, and render love for love.


1. Not hearing. Absence from public worship, neglect of Biblereading. "Turn away from Him."

2. Hearing listlessly, as if half asleep, and unconcerned. 3 Refusing to believe. Intellectually believing, but not with the heart.

4. Raising quibbles. Hunting up difficulties, favouring unbelief.

5. Being offended. Angry with the gospel, indignant at plain speech, opposing honest personal rebuke.

6. Perverting His words. Twisting and wresting Scripture.

7. Bidding Him depart. Steeling the conscience, trifling with conviction, resorting to frivolous company for relief.

8. Reviling Him. Denying His deity, hating His gospel, and His holy way.

9. Persecuting Him. Turning upon His people as a whole, or assailing them as individuals.


1. Stolid indifference, which causes a contempt of all good things.

2. Self-righteousness, which makes self an idol, and therefore rejects the living Saviour.

3. Self-reliant wisdom, which is too proud to hear the voice of God.

4. Hatred of holiness, which prefers the wilful to the obedient, the lustful to the pure, the selfish to the Divine.

5. Fear of the world, which listens to threats, or bribes, or flatteries, and dares not act aright.

6. Procrastination, which cries "to-morrow," but means "never."

7. Despair and unbelief, which declare the gospel to be powerless to save, and unavailable as a consolation.


1. He is of heavenly nature, and reveals to us what He has known of God and heaven.

2. He came from heaven, armed with heavenly authority.

3. tie speaks from heaven at this moment by His eternal Spirit in Holy Scripture, the ordinances and the preaching of the gospel.

4. He will speak from heaven at the judgment. He is Himself God, and therefore all that He saith hath divinity within it.

V. THE DOOM TO BE FEARED IF WE REFUSE CHRIST. Those to whom Moses spake on earth, who refused him, escaped not.

1. Let us think of their doom, and learn that equally sure destruction will happen to all who refuse Christ. Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The murmurers dying in the wilderness. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

2. Let us see how some have perished in the Church. Judas, Ananias, and Sapphira, &c.

3. Let us see how others perish who remain in the world, arid refuse to quit it for the fold of Christ. They shall not escape by annihilation, nor by purgatory, nor by universal restitutions. They shall not escape by infidelity, hardness of heart, cunning or hypocrisy. They have refused the only way of escape, and therefore they must perish for ever.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

To "refuse" is a positive rejection of the word. But to "turn away" may be only neglect and disregard. To treat the message carelessly is to " turn away" from the speaker. And as the ancient people were condemned for refusing, so may we be far more terribly overwhelmed in destruction if we turn away from Christ. Christ in His preached Word, Christ in His perpetuated Church, Christ in the continued ordinances of His dispensation, is for ever speaking unto men. If you scorn, then, the feeblest presentation of the gospel, it is not the preacher that you despise, but the Lord Jesus Christ who speaks through the preacher.

I. THE MANIFESTATION OF TRUTH IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST HAS RECEIVED THE HIGHEST SANCTION WHICH CAN BE AFFORDED FOR OBEDIENCE AND FAITH. Do you ask for dignity in the person who claims your allegiance and evokes your faith? Where shall you find a higher worth and glory of personal nature and character than were in Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you impressible by power, and will you allow your conscience and heart to follow, where first your senses and imagination have been aroused? What more Divine glory and power shall you anywhere find than in Him, who stills a tempest with a word, who calls the dead back to life, and is the master of the unseen world, whom the very demons hear and swiftly and abjectly obey? Perhaps you ask for wisdom and the light of an intelligence that shines with the lustre of the mind of God. Go and listen to Him who taught upon the mountains, or compelled the wondering multitudes to a reverent attention, as He unfolded the mysteries of the kingdom in the parables that linked the simplest facts and events of earthly life to the sublimest truths of the Divine nature and government. Does moral heroism arouse you? Will the signs of the spiritual and the Divine, found in the conflicts of a true and tried life, stir your heart and compel your admiration? Where in the world hath ever shone a light so signalised by truth and bravery, by virtue, and perfection, as the life of Jesus Christ? Perhaps you will yield to the claims of holiness and justice. Like the ancient statue which broke the awful silence in a deep sweet note of music, when the morning sunlight first fell upon it, your nature answers with an echo of fine melody, to the revelation of law, and to the outshining of the claim of God. Behold, how it breaks in clearest light, from the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ! Or perchance to all these forces you only turn a hard, insensate nature. But surely you can melt beneath the influence of love. The traveller drew his cloak the tighter when the blustering north wind blew, but he cast off his covering when the sunshine came out. Wilt thou not, then, throw from thee thy coverings of self-righteousness, and rebellion, when the grace and pity of thy God stream upon thee from the offered sacrifice of the dying Lamb?

II. THE NEGLECT OF THIS MESSAGE OF GRACE IS THE DEEPEST SIN WHICH CAN RENDER A MAN OBNOXIOUS TO THE JUST PUNISHMENT OF GOD. TO wrong a stranger of his stranger's right, to rob even an enemy of what justly belongs to him — these are crimes which human law of the imperfect sort punishes. But what is the deeply dyed shame of love outraged? What of the wickedness which tears the hand that is extended to help? These are enormities at which human nature stands aghast. And this is the sin which you commit, when you "refuse Him that speaketh from heaven."

III. ESCAPE FROM THE RESULT OF THIS UNBELIEF IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. A company of shipwrecked sailors are on yonder raft. They drift helplessly upon the wide ocean. They are thousands of miles from land. That frail bundle of spars can never bring them to the shore. Storms may arise, and if the winds blow, and the waters beat in mountainous surges upon them, they must perish. But see, a vessel comes in sight. It is an ocean steamer. It bears down to them. It comes alongside, and offers to take them on board. Thereupon, they begin to speculate whether they may not still be saved, even if they refuse to accept the offer of succour, and remain upon the raft. Who would not pronounce them mad to the last degree of madness, if they hesitate to climb on board? The question would not even suggest itself. While we speak, every man of them has left the broken spars, and is safe on the deck of the ship. What then of you, of any of us, who wonder whether there may not be yet a chance, even if the salvation of Christ is not made your own? The voice from heaven is speaking. To reject it, is the deepest guilt. What hope can there be if this be not accepted?

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

1. Doubt of His truth, dissatisfaction with His Word, is perhaps one of the most prominent features of such refusal. When a person begins to say, "This in the Bible is, perhaps, an hyperbolical and figurative phrase; it needs to be palliated in order that we may reach its truth; it needs to be subtracted from in order that we may attain the exact meaning of the Spirit of God"; he shows his tendency to depart from the living God.

2. A second evidence is, disagreement with God. How can two walk together except they be agreed? If two persons are in partnership, they can agree so long as they work together; but if one feels one course to be right and follows it, and the other, another, the two are at issue, and the one departs from the other. Departure begins at the smallest possible point of refusal. When a line starts from another, when a tangent starts from a circle, or one line diverges from another with which it ran parallel, it may be minutely, almost imperceptibly at the commencement, but, however, it will issue in an opposite and contrary direction. So your divergence from God may begin about a small matter; a very little which God demands but which you refuse; a little matter which you think ought to be in your way, but which God has said shall be in the opposite way; but that divergence which begins on that little fact in that little Bible may issue in results disastrous as imagination cannot conceive, and terrible as are pourtrayed in the condition of the lost by the Holy Spirit of God.

3. Another element is, dissatisfaction with what God is and what God does. God rules in providence. Some great blow falls upon your home, some disastrous loss occurs in your circumstances; you have light enough to see that God is in this, and grace enough to feel that it is God's hand that strikes the blow, and you murmur against God; you object to religion; you are dissatisfied with Him who is its author, and you begin a course of departure from the living God. The tenant leaves the house with which he is dissatisfied; the friend leaves the friend's company with whom he is offended; and you, dissatisfied with the providential government of God, believing that He has punished when He ought to have rewarded, arrested when He ought to have given impulse, retire from Him, forget His Word, forsake His sanctuary, and refuse Him. And such a course, I again remind you, may begin from very little indeed, but it must issue in terrible results. A person departing from God walks in the company of the ungodly. He stands in the way of sinners. Then, he sits in the seat of the scornful. Here you have, then, the course of one who refuses God. What are some of the signs or evidences that a Christian can take cognisance of?(1) The first trait of refusal of God is dissatisfaction, perhaps, with the people of God.(2) Another trait is less delight in His Word. Whenever men begin to think the Bible and religion very dull, and to long for a romance as the only exciting book, there is something wrong.(3) Another strong mark, too, of refusing God is less delight in prayer. He that really has the grace of God in his heart will be always discovering deeper wants that need to be satisfied, infirmities that need to be removed, prejudices that require to be scattered, passions that require to be broken, and his heart will be ever rising quietly, but fervently, to God for strength to be made perfect in weakness, and grace to be made sufficient.

4. Another evidence is excessive love of the world. "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world." I have submitted these as simple tests or criteria by which to ascertain either our growing acceptance of God, or refusing Him. It is a serious question, Am I a child of God? Is my heart set on heavenly things?

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

I. THE SOLEMN POSSIBILITY OF REFUSAL. NOW, to gain the whole solemnity of this exhortation, it is very needful to remember that it is addressed to professing Christians, who have in so far exercised real faith as that, by it, they " are come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God." Then, again, it is to be noted that the refusal here spoken about, and against which we professing Christians are thus solemnly warned, is not necessarily entire intellectual rejection of the gospel and its message. For the Israelites, who made the original " refusal," to which that which we are warned against is paralleled, recognised the voice that they would not listen to as being God's voice; and just because it was His voice wanted to hear no more of it. Then, remember, too, that this refusal, which at bottom is the rising up of the creature's will, tastes, inclinations, desires against the manifest and recognised will of God, may, and as a matter of fact often does, go along with a great deal of lip reverence and unconsciously hypocritical worship. The unconscious refusal is the formidable and fatal one. Will God's voice be heard in a heart that is all echoing with earthly wishes, loudly claimant for their gratification, with sensual desires passionately demanding their food to be flung to them? Will God's voice be heard in a heart where the janglings of contending wishes and earthly inclinations are perpetually loud in their brawling? Will it be heard in a heart which has turned itself into a sounding-board for all the noises of the world and the voices of men? The voice of God is heard in silence, and not amidst the noises of our own hearts. And they who, unconsciously perhaps, of what they are doing, open their ears wide to hear what they themselves, in the lower parts of their souls, prescribe, or bow themselves in obedience to the precepts and maxims of men round them, are really refusing to hear the voice of God.

II. THE SLEEPLESS VIGILANCE NECESSARY TO COUNTERACT THE TENDENCY TO RERUSAL. "See that ye refuse not." A warning finger is, as it were, lifted. Take heed against the tendencies that lie in yourself and the temptations around you. The consciousness of the possibility of the danger is half the battle. If there is any need to dwell upon specific methods by which this vigilance and continual self-distrust may work out for us our seem try, one would say — by careful trying to reverse all these conditions which lead us surely to the refusal. Silencethe passions, the wishes, the voices of your own wills and tastes and inclinations and purposes. Bring them all into close touch with Him. Let there be no voice in your hearts till you know God's will; and then with a leap let your hearts be eager to do it. Keep yourselves out of the babble of the world's voices; and be accustomed to go by yourselves and let God speak. Do promptly, precisely, perfectly, all that you know He has said. That is the way to sharpen your ears for the more delicate intonations of His voice, and the closer manifestations of His will.

III. THE SOLEMN MOTIVES BY WHICH THIS SLEEPLESS VIGILANCE IS ENFORCED. "If they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth" — or, perhaps, "who on earth refused Him that spake" — "much more shall not we escape if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven." The clearness of the voice is the measure of the penalty of non-attention to it. The voice that spoke on earth had earthly penalties as the consequence of disobedience. The voice that speaks from heaven, by reason of its loftier majesty, and of the clearer utterances which are granted to us thereby, necessarily involves more severe and fatal issues from negligence to it. Mark how the words deepen and darken in their significance in the latter portion. The man that stops his ears will very soon turn his back and be in flight, so far as he can, from the voice. Do not tamper with God's utterances. If you do, you have begun a course that ends in alienation from Him. Then mark, again, the evils which fell upon these people who turned away from Him that speaketh on earth where their long wandering in the wilderness, and their exclusion from the Land of Promise, and final deaths in the desert, where their bleaching bones lay white in the sunshine. And if you and I, by continuous and increasing deafness to our Father's voice, have turned away from Him, then all that assemblage of flashing glories and majestic persons, and of reconciling blood to which we come by faith, will melt away, "and leave not a wrack behind." We shall be like men who in a dream have thought themselves in a king's palace, surrounded by beauty and treasures, and have awakened with a start and a shiver to find themselves alone in the desert.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

As he (Caesar) crossed the hall his statue fell, and shivered on the stones. Some servants, perhaps, had heard whispers, and wished to warn him. As he still passed on a stranger thrust a scroll into his hand, and begged him to read it on the spot. It contained a list of the conspirators, with a clever account of the plot. He supposed it to be a petition, and placed it carelessly among his other papers. The fate of the empire hung upon a thread, but the thread was not broken.

(A. S. Froude.)

Julius Caesar once said to one who appeared to treat his words with indifference: "Know, young man, he who says these things is able to do them."

(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

We seem to have done with the word as it has passed through our ears; but the word, be it remembered, will never have done with us, till it has judged us at the last day.

(Judge Hale.)

A nobleman, skilled in music, who had often observed the Hen. and Rev. Mr. Cadogan's inattention to his performance, said to him one day, "Come, I am determined to make you feel the force of music; pay particular attention to this piece." It was accordingly played. "Well, what do you say now?" "Why, just what I said before." "What! can you hear this and not be charmed? Well, I am quite surprised at your insensibility. Where are your ears? .... Bear with me, my lord," replied Mr. Cadogan, "since I, too, have had my surprise. I have often, from the pulpit, set before you the most striking and affecting truths; I have sounded notes that might have raised the dead; I have said, 'Surely he will feel now,' but you never seemed to be charmed with my music, though infinitely more interesting than yours. I, too, have been ready to say, with astonishment, 'Where are his ears?'"

Yet once more.
The expression implies an approaching change. Whenever we speak of doing a thing once more, of visiting a place once more, of seeing a person once more, we imply that there is about to be, after that one act, a cessation, removal, separation, the thought of which is already casting its shadow over it and us. It is an old remark, but none the less true, that even things which we have little prized may awaken in the mind a tender feeling when they are viewed as for the last time, as what we shall never see or never do again. A man may become so habituated to a desert island or to a prisoncell, as to shed tears in quitting the one for his country or the other for freedom. And certainly the dullest home, the most monotonous occupation, the most uncongenial and unattractive circle, may easily be invested with an interest not its own, an interest which never belonged to it while it was regarded as permanent, the moment we feel that our hold upon it is shaken, that we are going forth from it to another abode, or in quest of another abode, which is as yet to us but an unrealised idea. Whenever we use the term " once more," in the sense here intended, let us remember, that it signifies " the removing of the things that are shaken," of things that are capable and in the process of shaking, "as of things that are made." When God Himself said, in the passage quoted, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven," if was implied that the convulsion of nature, as it was the last, so also was the prelude to an actual removal and displacement of the framework of nature itself, in preparation for the introduction of that which should be absolutely indestructible. Every change, from the very greatest of all to the very least, from that which convulses empires to that which agitates a little world like ours, is the removing of something made, of some thing or some person that is temporal and transitory, with a view to the greater prominence, perhaps the restoration to notice, of things or of persons immutable and eternal. What, then, are some of these things which cannot be. shaken?

1. I might bid you to think of this school which we all so much love, and to remember that through centuries of changes and fluctuations it has already stood its ground, and that it is now one of those institutions of our country which possess in themselves, by God's blessing, an element of vitality and of permanence.

2. I will bid you, in the second place, to contrast with those human agencies which are necessarily so transitory in a place like this, and even with the institution itself in which they are carried on, those individual results of our work which we express by the comprehensive term of a human character; that mind, that heart, those habits, that life, which are the ultimate result, in each particular case, of education considered as a complete whole.

3. To speak of the formation of character, just and true though the words be, has a somewhat chilling sound. But when we go on to the verse following the text, and read there of " a kingdom which cannot be moved," and hear of our receiving it, and find ourselves charged to "have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably," as though that also were by His gift in our own power; when we are thus brought, as it were, into His living presence, and made to view all things as coming to us from Him, and being ours already in Him; then whose heart does not burn within him; who does not then feel that there is, in deed and in truth, a rock higher than lie on which his feet may, if he will, be securely set, and that, if only we can reach that place of safety, no change can ever come amiss to us, no change can ever touch us, us ourselves, though it may make strange havoc of every earthly shelter which we had provided for ourselves or for a time rested under and trusted in?

(Dealt Vaughan.)

I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
I. As A REVOLUTIONARY POWER. Falsehood, evil, corruption — these, wherever they exist, in hearts, governments, commerce, literature, science, or art — Christianity has shaken and will shake.

II. As A REIGNING POWER. It is a "kingdom."

1. He that does not receive it as a reigning power, does not receive it at all.

2. He that does not receive it as a reigning power, is exposed to the fate of a rebel against heaven.

III. As A PERMANENT POWER. "A kingdom which cannot be moved."

1. Its elements are immutable. Love and truth.

2. Its fitness is eternal. Man through all the ages will never outgrow it, never cease to want it, never be able to get on without it.


1. The mode of acceptable service. "Reverence and godly fear."

2. The qualification for acceptable service. "Let us have graces," i.e., thankfully realise the high blessings conferred on us, and with devout gratitude engage in the work.

3. The motive of acceptable service. "Our God is a consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24). The God who rolled thunder and flashed light-nings on Sinai has not changed, His antagonism to sin is as great as ever.


I. There are two shakings here referred to by the apostle; the first is that of Sinai, which is already past, the second is that at the Lord's coming, which is still future. Of this STILL FUTURE SHAKING he affirms three things.

1. It is a final shaking. It is but "once more," and then all creation is at rest for ever. It is but "once more" that the stormy vengeance of Jehovah is to be let loose upon the earth to work havoc there. That last tempest is even now drawing together its clouds of darkness from every region, and mustering its strength for the terrible outburst — an outburst terrible indeed, but yet the last!

2. It is a more extensive shaking than any heretofore. "I shake not the earth only but also heaven." The heaven here spoken of is not the "third heaven," which is the peculiar dwelling place of God and the shrine of His glory; but the visible heavens above us — the same as those of which we read, "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This universal shaking is that which Jesus Himself predicted (Matthew 24:29). It is also that of which the prophet Isaiah (chap. 24.), has given at length so dark a picture. Very fearful will these convulsions be. Above, beneath, around; earth, air, and sea shall be all one dark, wide circle of infinite desolation and terror. Careless sinner! What shall then become of thee?

3. It is a shaking followed by a glorious issue. It is not for the annihilation of this material fabric, nor is it for reducing all things to their primitive chaos. It is for a very different end. That end is twofold. There is first "the removing of those things which are shaken as of things which are made," that is, things of perishable workmanship. Then there is the consolidating of what resists and survives this shaking into an immovable creation. The foreground is dark, but the scene beyond it is all glad and bright. The commotions in immediate prospect of which we are already beginning to descry the forerunners, are apt to depress and sadden; but all beyond that is so stable, so unchanging, and spreads itself out before us in such refulgent, holy beauty, that we can overleap the dreary interval and stay our hearts as well as refresh our eyes with the glory to be revealed when the skirts of the last cloud shall be seen passing off in the distance, and the echo of the last thunder heard remotely upon the joyful hills.

II. The apostle having thus foretold the convulsions of the last days, and alluded to the "times of the restitution of all things," proceeds to show THE EFFECT WHICH THESE THINGS SHOULD HAVE UPON BELIEVERS, and in what a solemn attitude it places them. This is the object of what follows, which, from the use of the word "wherefore," is obviously an inference from his preceding statements.

1. The kingdom. It is "a kingdom which cannot be moved." All present things are to be shaken, and out of these is to come the kingdom that cannot be moved — a kingdom unchangeable and eternal. Sin, we know, has loosened everything, transforming a stable world into a decaying, crumbling ruin. In order that stability may be restored, all things must be shaken, and after these shakings comes this immovable kingdom. There is no kingdom like this among all that has ever been. Everything about it is incorruptible, as well as undefiled. Its territory, its subjects, its laws, its throne, its sceptre, its sovereign, are all everlasting! Nothing can shake it. No war, no enemy, can disturb its peace. No storm, no earthquake, can assail it. No internal weakness or decay can dismember or dissolve it. The day of its duration shall be the eternal Sabbath — the rest that remaineth for the people of God.

2. The kings. Who are they? "We," says the apostle — that is, not "we apostles," but "we saints." As believers, we have received a kingdom, being made kings and priests unto God; being made " heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ." Angels are but " ministering spirits": we are kings — partakers with Christ Himself of His crown and throne! Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us! What a holy life should then be ours! Surely we may be expected to keep in mind our coming glory, and to walk worthy of such a calling, and of such a kingdom!

3. Our present position and employment. "Let us serve God." Our whole life is to be one of service: not merely certain portions of our life, but our entire life from the moment that we believe. It is the life of men redeemed to God, and who have therefore become His property. Each saint is a priest unto God as well as a king. And as Jehovah's priesthood, we serve in the true sanctuary which the Lord pitched and not man. Ours is a consecrated life, and therefore a continual service, the service of priests. We are sprinkled with blood set apart for God, and our whole life is to be one of priestly service. With our holy garments upon us, our censers in our hands, and standing under the shadow of the glory, how can we give way to levity, or wickedness, or indolence in circumstances so unutterably solemn and overawing. Oh! what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness!

4. In what manner is this service to be performed?(1) Acceptably — that is so as to please God. In all our service this is to be distinctly kept in mind. In our prayers, praises, duties, we are not only to gratify ourselves but to please God. Let us observe, however, that to serve God acceptably, is not to serve for the purpose of making ourselves accepted. No; before our services can be accepted, we must be accepted ourselves. A saint is not one who serves God in order to be forgiven, but one who, having found forgiveness, serves God in love and liberty as a forgiven soul, and with an enlarged heart.(2) With reverence and godly fear. There is to be no irreverence, no rashness, no presumption in our service, as if God were one like ourselves, or nearly upon our level. There is to be fear and solemn awe when we consider whom we worship; who we are who are thus permitted to draw near; in what temple it is that we worship, and what blood it cost ere we could be permitted to enter.

5. How are we to maintain this service? By holding fast grace, says the apostle. When that free love of God entered our souls, it brought with it liberty and gladness and light. It dispelled all our darkness, it removed all our sorrow, it struck off every fetter, and blessed us with the liberty of God's beloved Son. And it is in this same love that we are to abide to the end. We are to beware of losing sight of it, or letting it go.

6. Our God is a consuming fire. This evidently comes in as an additional reason to the preceding. And a most weighty and solemn one it is. The fire, indeed, has not consumed us, but still it is consuming. The God with whom we have to do is a God who.has saved us, yet still this very God whom we call ours is a consuming fire. Should we not, then, serve Him with reverence and godly fear?

(H. Bonar.)

That voice of Sinai was a shaking of earthly things. How were nations dispossessed, how were thrones tumbled into the dust, how was the course of human history and human life changed or directed by that shaking of Sinai! And so with the shaking voice of Calvary! Earthly things were moved, and are still moved, by the power of that voice Divine. Not a home to-day in all our land, not a single relationship in life, no duty of the ruler, no obligation of the subject or the citizen, but is bent and swayed and governed from Golgotha's hill. But heavenly things are shaken by the voice which cried on Calvary. Some have understood, by the term "heaven" as here used, those high states of human faith and worship, not only in the Jewish economy but in the idolatries of the world, which were as "heaven" to the men who received them; and these, the "It is finished" of our Lord has utterly overthrown. Is it a mere play of imagination, if we suppose that the voice which shook the heavens, was indeed heard by the inhabitants of that celestial world, and arrested the very worship of the skies, and startled angels from their lofty stations, to look with absorbed gaze upon the wonders of that sacrifice? Furthermore, may we not reverently suggest that the voice of victory on the completion of redeeming work, wrought even upon the heart of the Infinite One Himself? At least, the issue was a Divine acceptance, the change of threatening judgment into saving mercy. There was shaking at Sinai — shaking of old temporal and earthly relations, of old human and profane habits, and in their place the appointment of things seen in the heavenly, commanded by God, "made" indeed by men, but made "after the fashion given on the Mount." But now, the voice from heaven hath shaken both earth and heaven. Once again, and far more surely and destructively, are the earthly things shaken, and there topple down all secularities and temporalities and mere passing phenomena of human thought and law of man's mere worldly duty and faith. But with these also pass the heavenly things that Sinai established. The rules of life, the precepts of morality, the very commandments received as mere external ordinances, the gorgeous ritual of priest and sacrifice of temples, offering of chant and incense, of blood and altar — all these "things made" are shaken, and being shaken, show their passing temporal character as they quickly vanish and disappear. But what remains to us? what are the things that not even the voice from heaven can shake, that not even does the voice desire to shake, but only to establish?

1. Law remains, grand, inviolable, Divine. A law may have vanished, the law may have grown effete and dead, but law is now personal and incarnate, and dwells for ever serene, benign, almighty in the Son of Man, who is raised into the glory of the Godhead, and who sways, with the power of the Father, alike the hosts of heaven and the inhabiters of the earth.

2. Love remains. Love is the form that dwells in heaven, love is dominion and the rule of God in Jesus Christ His Son.

3. And law and love combine, and in their union salvation remains. All the preparations and the promises, all the weary wanderings of human life, God-led or man-directed, all the times and dispensations, all the aims and hopes and despairs and sins of men, these have all ended now, and there is naught but salvation free and full and certain and eternal, for all who will believe — salvation for the worst — salvation that cannot fail, for it stands assured upon the foundation of the sovereign God, the suffering Son, the ever-gracious Spirit. And so abides for ever the kingdom of our God. Human weakness shall not sap its strength, and Satan's malice and the wildest assault of hell shall never overthrow its glory.

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

These Hebrew Christians were living in the midst of a great shaking. It was a time of almost universal trial. God was shaking not earth only, but also heaven. The Jewish tenure of Palestine was being shaken by the Romans, who claimed it as their conquest. The interpretation given to the Word of God by the Rabbis was being shaken by the fresh light introduced through the words and life and death of Jesus. The supremacy of the temple and its ritual was being shaken by those who taught that the true temple was the Christian Church, and that all the Levitical sacrifices had been realised in Christ. The observance of the Sabbath was being shaken by those who wished to substitute for it the first day of the week. In such a time we are living now. Everything is being shaken and tested. But there is a Divine purpose in it all, that His eternal truth may stand out more clearly, when all human traditions have fallen away, unable to resist the energy of the shock.

I. THEOLOGICAL SYSTEMS ARE BEING SHAKEN. There was a time when men received their theological beliefs from their teachers, their parents, or their Church, without a word of question or controversy. It is not so now; the air is filled with questionings. Men are putting into the crucible every doctrine which our forefathers held dear. In these terrible shakings, not one jot or tittle of God's Word shall perish, not one grain of truth shall fall to the ground, not one stone in the fortress shall be dislodged. But they are permitted to come, partly to test the chaff and wheat as a winnowing fan, but chiefly that all which is transient may pass away, whilst the simple truth of God becomes more apparent, and shines forth unhidden by the scaffolding and rubbish with which the builders have obscured its symmetry and beauty. "The things which cannot be shaken shall remain."

II. ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEMS ARE BEING SHAKEN. Teachers of religion are challenged to show reason for their assuming their office, or of claiming special prerogatives. Methods of work are being weighed in the balances, missionary plans trenchantly criticised, religious services metamorphosed. Change is threatening the most time-honoured customs, and all this is very distressing to those who have confused the essence with the form, the jewel with the casket, the spirit with the temple in which it dwells. But let us not fear. All this is being permitted for the wisest ends. There is a great deal of wood, hay, and stubble in all our structures which needs to be burnt up, but not an ounce of gold or silver will ever be destroyed.

III. OUR CHARACTERS AND LIVES ARE CONSTANTLY BEING SHAKEN. What a shake that sermon gave us, which showed that all our righteousness, on which we counted so fondly, were but withered leaves! What a shake was that commercial disaster, which swept away in one blow the savings and credit of years, that were engrossing the heart, and left us only what we had of spiritual worth! What a shake was that temptation, which showed that our fancied sinlessness was an empty dream, and that we were as sensitive to temptation as those over whom we had been vaunting ourselves. What has been the net result of all these shakings? Has a hair of our heads perished? The old man has perished, but the inward man has been daily renewed. The more the marble has wasted, the more the statue has grown. As the wooden centres have been knocked down, the solid masonry has stood out with growing completeness.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

It is a most popular error that the world stands still, and is fixed and immovable. This has been scouted as an astronomical theory, but as a matter of practical principle it still reigns in men's minds. Galileo said, "No, the world is not a fixed body, it moves"; Peter had long before declared that all these things should be dissolved; at last men believed the astronomer, but they still doubt the apostle, or at least forget his doctrine. "This is the substance," cries the miser, as he clutches his bags of gold; "heaven and hell are myths to me." "This is the main chance," whispers the merchant, as he pushes vigorously his commercial speculations; "as for spiritual things they are for mere dreamers and sentimentalists. Cash is the true treasure." Ah, you base your statements upon a foundation of falsehood. This world is as certainly a mere revolving ball as to human life as it is astronomically; and hopes founded thereon will as surely come to nought as will card houses in a storm. Here we have no abiding city, and it is in vain to attempt to build one. Every now and then, in order to enforce this distasteful truth upon us, the God of providence gives the world, in some way or other, a warning shake. The Lord has only to lay one finger upon the world, and mountains are carried into the midst of the sea, while the waters of the ocean roar and are troubled until the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

I. The original draft of the statement refers to THE OLD JEWISH DISPENSATION. Why was it that it could be shaken?

1. One reason was that it had so much to do with materialism. It needed an altar of earth or stone, and such altars the hand of the spoiler can overturn; it required a bullock that hath horns and hoofs, and such sacrifices the plague may slay; it demanded a priest of the house of Aaron, and a race of men may be cut off from the families of the nations; it needed a tabernacle or a temple, and buildings made with hands are readily demolished; hence it could be shaken. These were but things which are made, and they have been shaken and removed; but the things which cannot be shaken still remain; our spiritual altar still endures, our great High Priest still lives, our house not made with hands is still eternal in the heavens.

2. The Jewish religion could be shaken because it could be combated by material forces. Antiochus could profane its altars, Titus could burn its temple, and cast down the walls of the sacred city; but no invader can pollute the heavenly altar of our spiritual faith by brute force, or destroy the celestial bulwarks of our hope by fire and sword. Material forces are not available in our warfare, for we wrestle not with flesh and blood. The tyrant may burn our martyrs and cast our confessors into prison, but the pure truth of Jesus is neither consumed by fire nor bound with chains; it hath within itself essential immortality and liberty.

3. Moreover, the Mosaic economy passed away because it could be affected by time. But see the doctrine of the Cross of Christ! No time affects it. The message of salvation by grace is as fresh to-day as when Peter preached it at Pentecost. The great command, "Believe and live," has as much life-giving power about it as when it was first applied by the Holy Ghost.


III. THE REAL IN OUTWARD PROFESSION STANDS, NOTWITHSTANDING TIMES OF SHAKING. I do not think times of storm to a Church are in the long run to be regretted; a calm is much more dangerous. The plague bearing miasma settles and festers in the vale till the atmosphere becomes deadly, even to the casual passenger; but the storm fiend, as men call him, leaps from the mountains into the sunny glades of the valley; with terrific vigour hurls down the habitations of men, and tears up the trees by the roots; but meanwhile all is superabundantly compensated by the effectual purging which the atmosphere receives. Men breathe more freely, and heaven smiles more serenely now that the heaviness of the death-damp is gone, and the poisonous vapour clings no longer to the river's bank and the valley's side.

IV. We will further apply the principle to our OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. LET me mention a few methods of soul-shaking.

1. Affliction is one of them. The man thought that he had resigned everything to God — death came and took away his child; where was his resignation then? Tribulations, losses, crosses, sicknesses, and bereavements, are very stern trials, and the things within us which may be shaken will be shaken by them; but if we can bear them well and trustingly, and yet praise God for all, we have evidence of possessing gracious qualities which cannot be shaken, and therefore will remain.

2. What a shake temptation gives us! Why, we shall then know whether our grace is the grace of God or the grace of man; we shall now see whether we have the faith of God's elect or not. The faith of God's elect can write "Invicta" upon its escutcheon; it is unconquered and unconquerable. There is a time of shaking coming which none of us shall be able to avoid.

3. If we should live without affliction and without temptation, which I think will be impossible, yet we cannot enter into the promised land without passing through the river of death, unless the Lord shall come. What a testing-time will the death-hour be!

V. I must now bring before you ALL THAT YOU HAVE IN POSSESSION. The things which can be shaken will be removed, but things that cannot be shaken will remain. We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill-becomes a Christian man to set much store by them. Yet some of us have certain " things which cannot be shaken," and I invite you to read over the catalogue of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain.

1. In the first place, whatever your losses may have been, you enjoy present salvation.

2. In the next place, you are a child of God to-day. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob yon of that.

3. You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. HE who is God and anon loves you with all the strength of His affectionate nature. Now, nothing can rob you of that.

4. You have another thing, namely this truth, that whatever may happen to you you have God's faithful promise which holds true that all things shall work for your good. Do you believe this?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The giving of the law shook the earth, the giving of the gospel is to shake earth and heaven. The concussion begins when Christ comes; it is going on now; and it will continue till the world receives its last shock and falls asunder. This is not a very common view of the gospel history, but it has its side of truth. The gospel cannot build up and make strong without shaking down. The things that are shaken are "things that are made." They are created things, and therefore they can be and must be changed. But the things that are not made cannot be shaken. They are things that belong to God's own nature, His truth and righteousness and love, which are unassailable and eternal, and give eternal power and life wherever they enter and become part of a creature. It is a very great thing for us to feel assured of this in the midst of the perpetual breaking down of everything around us.


1. The Jewish dispensation was shaken, but the great realities enclosed in it remain. The New Testament Church emerges like a spirit clothed in a new and ethereal body fitted for a greater time.

2. The forms of human society are shaken, but the principles that regulate if remain. Every chaos has its harmonising voice, "Let there be light"; every flood its ark and its rainbow. Amid the tumults of nations and the guessing plans of politicians, a Christian man need never lose hope, for he has his foot on a kingdom that cannot be moved; and the communities of this world are being shaken and broken that they may be built up again, with more in them of that kingdom which is truth and righteousness, and which at last shall be peace.

3. Outward systems of religion are shaken, but the great truths of the Church of Christ remain. By outward systems of religion we mean the organisations that men form, with a particular human name and locality and administration; by the Church of Christ we mean the spiritual children of God, called together by His grace out of every country, and built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner-stone. The great wants of man's soul cannot be changed any more than the necessities of his physical nature, and the great truths of the Bible that satisfy them can no more be shaken than the ordinances of heaven that furnish man with bread and light and life.

4. The temporal circumstances of man are shaken, but the great possessions of the soul remain. There are few who pass through life without experiencing many changes in it. All our possessions are in things of earth, and we hold them by a clay-tenure. Perhaps the saddest change of all is that which takes place in our feelings. How different the dreams of the opening of life from the realisations of its close! What broken hopes, what frustrated aims, what a poor handful of ears for the rich sheaves we saw before us! So God shakes our lives till all seems gone, things of possession and things of promise. And yet, the while, the soul may have within its grasp things that cannot be touched, that youthful expectations once thought little of, but that now grow into bright and great realities. It may have faith rising to God and laying hold of the treasure that nothing can endanger or diminish. It may have hope going down like an anchor and keeping the heart stable in every storm. It may have love within and around, dwelling on the things of God and giving, in communion with Him, a peace in trouble that is above all earthly good. If these have become part of the soul they may be clouded, but they are never lost. When we lose hold of them Christ holds them fast for us, and brings them out like stars over drifting sky-rack, and brightens them as night deepens.

5. The material frame of man is shaken, but the immortal spirit remains. Where the Divine life enters, it brings with it not only the promise but the pledge and foretaste of the immortal life. The light of faith already spoken of, shining when all else that looks out at the windows is darkened, is one of its foretokens. said of his mother, , that the crevices of the falling tabernacle only let the celestial light shine in more clearly.

"The soul's dark cottage shattered and decayed

Lets in new light through chinks that time has made."And when death gives the last shock to the frame the work is completed. The soul is that light in Gideon's pitcher which shines out most clearly when the earthen vessel that held it is broken.

6. Last of all, we observe, as an illustration of this law, that the whole system of nature is shaken, but the new creation remains. That which we can trace in all past eras, rising still to a better and brighter, must reach its brightest and its best if there be truth in earth or heaven. The passing things in the universe must lead to something permanent, for time no more than space can have a sea without a shore. That new material creation shall be suited to the nature of man's glorified, material frame, as that frame is suited to his perfected spirit. It must be free from all the elements of disorder and decay that press upon us here — a soil that never opens for a grave, a sky that never darkens with a cloud; to describe which God's word fails, because it can only use figures drawn from things that are passing, and speak to finite minds enclosed within these limits. I do not know if there is anything that can give us a higher idea of that great end than this, that it is the end — the close to which all the events and processes around us are conducting — the one permanent, imperishable result of the history of the universe.

II. WE NOW COME TO INDICATE SOME OF THE BENEFITS THAT RESULT FROM THIS LAW. Could not God, it may be asked, have made a permanent world at first, without requiring us to pass through this process of change deepening so often to ruin? After all, this may be asking why God has seen fit to make this world under the condition of time, for, wherever time enters, change, as far as we can see, must accompany it. It may be that finite minds can learn, or at least begin their learning, only under some such forms of change as we see around us — processes of birth and growth and death and revival, taking place under our eyes, arresting our attention, and stimulating our study. It is a book where God is turning the pages to every generation, and giving it something new, an advancing development that bids men look back and forward. The world as we here see it is a becoming — a process where constant change is imprinted on all. It has seemed fit to God's wisdom to put us through such a course of learning, where change should be so prominent, and yet the permanent never far off to those who will feel after it till they find it; and if we could understand all things we might see that the proportion in which the two are mingled is best suited to our present condition. We come, however, to something more practical when we remark that this is a world into which moral disorder has entered, and that the painful changes that touch us are the consequence of it — the consequence of it, and yet an aid to the cure of it. Without sin there might still have been mutation, but it would have wanted the sting and the shadow. We have lost through our fall the true perception of spiritual and eternal realities, and we must be made to see them through painful contrasts. It is by this process, too, that we not only see the greatness of these permanent things, but learn to cleave to them as our portion. This at least is the purpose, and if God's Spirit stirs the heart when His providence shakes the outward life this will be the result. Still further, things that are shaken preserve those things that are to remain until their suitable time of manifestation. God gives us earthly comforts and hopes, till He gives something better in their stead. A young Christian could not be reconciled to many things which the more advanced cheerfully accept. In our present state we could not bear the view of another world, and the veil is kept between till our souls are attempered. Meanwhile, the seed of the incorruptable is here now — the seed of the everlasting inheritance in these frail hearts, of the glorious body in these dying frames, of the new creation in the world we look on. The things that perish encase them, as winter's snow covers the seed, as the husk the flower. When all is ready, the sun will come and the snow will melt, the husk will fall, the flower will blossom to the summer day, and we shall see that the things which perish have also their place in the plan of God. They are the veil between grace and glory, very needful, and only to be done away when that which is perfect shall have come, and we are ready to take possession of it.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

A kingdom which cannot be moved. —
The gospel dispensation is the "kingdom which cannot be moved." It is described as a "kingdom which cannot be moved," because it is the complete development of God's design towards this earth, and not a mere herald of a fuller manifestation. And when St. Paul appeals to the reception of an immovable kingdom as furnishing a motive to earnestness in the service of God, he is to be considered as arguing from the fixedness of the present dispensation to the duty of a reverential and filial obedience. The object, therefore, of our discourse must be to display the fairness of such reasoning; in other words, to explain how the fact that the kingdom that cannot be moved furnishes a motive to the serving God "acceptably with reverence and with godly fear."

I. First, then, upon general grounds. WHY SHOULD THE FIXEDNESS OF THE GOSPEL DISPENSATION URGE US TO DILIGENCE IN THE SERVICE OF GOD? Suppose we take the opposite supposition, and imagine that there had been none of this fixedness in the gospel of Christ. Let us conceive ourselves placed under an imperfect and temporal economy, and see what difference would be made in our moral position. If you could throw an air of doubtfulness around the completion of revelation — if rather you could prove that there was still a portion of God's will to be made known; that we are not in possession of all that knowledge in respect of redemption which shall be communicated to man on this side of eternity, then immediately there would be engendered a feeling of restlessness and uncertainty; our minds, in place of setting themselves earnestly to the study of what was given, would waste themselves in conjecturing what was withheld. It is evident that under the Jewish dispensation there was a vast deal of this moral dissatisfaction. An absolute sickness of heart appears to have been felt by the most upright and pious at the long delay of a fuller revelation. There is just the difference between our condition under an immovable kingdom, and the condition of those who were under the movable kingdom, that there would be between a man who should be bidden to do something in the dark, and that of another man who should be told to do the same thing in the daylight. We will not say that the darkness is an apology for remissness, but that the sunshine takes away a great show of excuse. Receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, there are not brought to bear on us the disturbing forces which acted within the moral orbit of the Jew. We look straightway to Christ as a sacrifice, and are not set to behold Him in bulls and goats led up to the brazen altar. We can mark the Mediator, entering by His own blood into the holy of holies, and are not left to search out His intercession in that of a priest who, compassed with infirmity, needed for himself what he presented for others. We can go at once to "the fountain open for sin and uncleanness," and are not required to learn the methods of spiritual purification from the multiplied processes of ceremonial. We have been made acquainted with the abolition of death, of life and immortality being brought vividly to light, and we are not reduced to a vague hope or dim conjecture of the resurrection of matter and of its fresh inhabitation by spirit. But in these and numerous like points of distinction lies the difference between a kingdom which can be moved and a kingdom which cannot be moved. That which cannot be moved is the substance, whilst that which can be moved is only the shadow. He, therefore, who is under the immovable, has realities within his grasp, whilst he who is under the movable has only figure and parable; and just in proportion that the knowing with precision what is to be hoped and what feared will make a man more decisive in action than the being left in doubt and uncertainty — in that same proportion ought energy under the immovable dispensation to carry it over energy under the movable dispensation. The statutes of this kingdom are not written in hieroglyphics; the laws of its citizenship are not propounded in enigmas; everything wears the aspect of a final and complete revelation; the figurative has given place to the literal: prophecy has sunk into performance; who, therefore, will refuse to acknowledge that there is laid upon those who receive the immovable kingdom a mighty weight of responsibleness over and above that which rested on the recipients of the movable? And if the fixedness of the dispensation thus enhance the responsibleness of its subjects, we put beyond controversy that the fixedness should furnish motives to the serving God " acceptably with reverence and godly fear."

II. Now we propose, in the second place, to make good the same truth on the particular ground which the apostle lays down. St. Paul argues the duty of obedience from the fixedness of the dispensation; BUT THEN HE SUBJOINS AS HIS CONCLUDING ARGUMENT — "For our God is a consuming fire." Let us see how the several arguments are associated. We cannot be wrong in arguing that until the gospel was published — until, that is, the spiritual kingdom was finally settled on an immovable basis, there were points on which God's will was not clearly ascertained, and men might easily have formed incorrect suppositions, forasmuch as they proceeded on an imperfect knowledge. Informed of God's gracious design of providing pardon for the guilty, but not informed of the details of the arrangement, it might well come to pass that they would indulge in expectations which a fuller intelligence would have caused them to reject. They knew that God was "a consuming fire"; but they derived this knowledge from that tremendous outbreak of thunder and flame which accompanied the delivery of the law. But you will, we think, allow that if the Israelites knew God as "a consuming fire," because so revealed on Mount Sinai, and if they did not as yet know thoroughly the character under which lie would reveal Himself on Mount Zion, it might be a matter of question with them whether the mildness of the one revelation would not so temper the fierceness of the other, that "a consuming fire" might no longer be a just description of God. They lived under a movable dispensation; the immovable which was to follow, came charged with discoveries of God's purposes of lovingkindness; might there not consequently have been somewhat of hesitation on their minds as to whether the tire which blazed awfully before mercy was allowed to shine out in its brightness, would be equally devouring when the day of free pardon had dawned on the creation? But so soon as the kingdom became "a kingdom which cannot be moved"; the possible union of characters — the characters of the punishing God and the pardoning God — was established beyond the reach of a question or a doubt. We cannot, unless we hoodwink our understandings, and take pains to be the victims of a lie, flatter ourselves that judgment when brought out into action will be less fiery and less tremendous than when graven on the statute book. Ours is the immovable kingdom, and the very process by which this kingdom was set up and wrought into steadfastness witnesses with a testimony the most thrilling, that it was a law with God, the least swerving from which would be the shaking of His own throne, that sin must be punished before the sinner can be pardoned. It was on Zion ten thousandfold more than on Sinai, that the Almighty proved Himself "a consuming fire." When the eternal Son in the might of the coalition of Deity and humanity went up the mountain side and laid Himself down on the altar, the substitute of a lost world, and there blazed forth the fires of justice to consume the sacrifice. Oh t then, far beyond the demonstration of Sinai, wrapped in flame and smoke, was there given a proof to all intelligent creation, that the emblem of God, when He deals with the guilty, shall be ever that of "a consuming fire." Thus it was in giving fixedness to the dispensation that God manifested Himself as "a consuming fire." The fact that the kingdom cannot be moved is an irresistible proof that the fire cannot be extinguished. Thus there is a connection, the very closest between the fixedness of the gospel dispensation and that character of God which sets Him forth as the devourer of the impenitent; and hence we gather that the argument to the "serving God acceptably," which is drawn from His being "a consuming fire," is but a particular case of the general argument derived from our "receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved." Therefore, all our former reasons on the general argument must be applicable to the particular. Futurity comes charged with no softenings away of God's wrath against sin; this is the fact that should nerve to obedience. We ought, perhaps, to say a word on the somewhat singular expression — "Let us have grace." It can only refer to our seeking grace, to our improving grace. Without grace is it impossible that we should serve God acceptably, for man himself is void of all capacity for performing the will of his Maker; hence the being admonished that we may have grace to serve God acceptably is the same thing as being admonished that we set not to the work in any strength of our own, but that we go to God for assistance in order that we may honour God by obedience. And we may further observe that the service here demanded at our hands is of a nature which marks the awfulness of God. There is to be nothing of familiarity, there is to be nothing of forgetfulness of the unmeasured distance which, even when brought nigh by the blood of His own Son, separates between God and ourselves. Therefore we are to serve "with reverence and godly fear"; and though undoubtedly the fear which a Christian entertains towards God will be filial fear rather than slavish, the fear of a son who loves rather than that of a servant who dreads, yet it is certain that in our text an apprehension of wrath is supposed to be an element of godly fear. "Such would have been my lot," will the Christian say, when musing on the fate of the impenitent, "had not free grace interposed, and God of His rich lovingkindness brought me up from destruction." Carry away with you, then, this truth — the truth that peculiar interest in God is no encouragement to the throwing aside the most awful fear of God. "Our God is a consuming fire." How rich the summit of privilege when you can say, "O God, Thou art my God! " And yet when the summit is reached you must still look to the blazing, burning Deity for "our God," my God, "is a consuming fire." "At first glance," says an old prelate, "these two expressions, 'our God,' and 'a consuming fire,' seem to look strangely at one another, but the Holy Ghost hath excellently tempered them." He is our God — this corrects that despairing fear which would otherwise seize on us from the consideration of God as "a consuming fire." But then, He is not only "our God"; He is also "a consuming fire" — this corrects that presumptuous irreverence to which else we might be emboldened by the consideration of our interest in God as "our God."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

In the case of Palestine, there had been ages of experience in volcanic convulsions before Bible times. Probably the great Mediterranean Sea is a pre-Adamic volcanic crevasse, by which Europe and Africa were separated from each other. Its many volcanoes are still active vents in the vast fissure. The Red Sea is almost certainly a volcanic crevasse separating Africa from Asia. That crevasse runs up northward from Mount Sinai to Mount Hermon, through the whole length of Palestine. The river Jordan, with its two lakes and the Dead Sea, are in the bottom of that great volcanic crevasse, far below the surface of the Mediterranean. The oldest historical record of an earthquake tells how God knocked a little more of the bottom out of that crevasse, at the south end of the Dead Sea, and let it swallow up the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole vale of Siddim. But "Bela," the old name of Zoar, meant "convulsions" before Lot fled thither. There are records of earthquakes, and allusions to them, all through the Old Testament, in the Psalms, Prophets, and historical books. The imagery of our text is all taken from that great earthquake with which God accompanied, and sublimely emphasised, His giving of the law on Mount Sinai. That shaking of the literal mountain lies at the base of the figurative and spiritual use which is made of it by the author of this Epistle to the Hebrews. They knew and gloried in the history, and could feel the force of its application when reminded of "a kingdom that could not be shaken." But for us, that we may understand it, let us consider —

I. THE MEANING OF THIS IMMOVABLE KINGDOM: WHAT IS ITS SIGNIFICATION? To this question there are for us two answers.

1. Christianity in contrast with Judaism. A striking contrast here, from the eighteenth verse onward, between Judaism, as represented by Mount Sinai, where it was revealed; and Christianity, represented by Mount Zion, where it was revealed. The one is clad in material terrors, the other in spiritual glories. To approach the one is death, the other life. The one reveals the law against sin, the other salvation from sin. The one shakes the world with an earthquake of wrath against all unrighteousness, the other with the Pentecostal earthquake of joy at the bringing in of everlasting righteousness. The one shakes a temporal mountain, but leaves the ceremonial law as a barrier between the Gentile world and salvation; the other shakes down the old dispensation of types and shadows, but leaves in its place the unshakable and final dispensation of grace, the pure and simple principles of justification, holiness, union with God, and eternal salvation, all through Christ. But this "immovable kingdom" also means —

2. Christianity in its wider contrast between all earthly and perishing things, on the one hand, and the spiritual and unperishing things of the soul and salvation, on the other hand. What a stupendous symbol of the perishableness of all earthly interests is this which the apostle uses as a foil to set off the unperishing durability of the kingdom of Jesus Christ over the souls and destinies of men! Let earthquakes shatter all created things. Let all that earth has to offer, its loves, its hopes, its possessions and ambitions, perish together. The soul that has received by faith the unperishing kingdom of Christ has a possession which not only endures, but saves its possessor with it, and fills his inmost soul with consciousness of eternal riches, eternal strength, and joy. He who has Jesus in his soul knows that be has the last thing, the best thing, the eternal thing. The immovable kingdom is his. No changes of ritual, no translation of priesthood, no civil revolution, no providential catastrophe of earth or time can affect him. He is an heir of God for ever. And now it is in view of our noble heirship to this glorious and immovable kingdom that Paul adds, as a logical conclusion, introduced by the "wherefore."

II. THE EXHORTATION TO FITNESS FOR THE HEIRSHIP OF SUCH A KINGDOM. "Let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing unto God, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." There are three points in this exhortation.

1. This heirship demands a corresponding service on our part. We must "offer service well-pleasing unto God." In the ages of the old feudal kingdoms of Europe, all the smaller or feudatory kingdoms, principalities, dukedoms, earldoms, &c., were held as the direct gift of the sovereign crown, and homage must be rendered and feudal service in arms pledged to the sovereign king by the heirs to the various feudatory principalities, &c., before they could be invested with their inheritances, however great. And so it is with the heirs of the glorious kingdom of Christ.

2. The rendering of such a service requires the abiding grace of God in our souls, as a qualification therefor. "Let us have grace," said the apostle, "that we may so serve God." Ah, he knew how much of the deep inward grace of God is necessary for such a service. It is not enough that we know the will of God and theoretically accept it. The Israelites did that in the desert, and yet, at the very foot of Mount Sinai, and then, after all the glorious manifestations of God's power in the flaming mountain and the quaking earth, they backslid into idolatry then and there, in the very presence of the glory of God. The reason for this was that they had not the grace of God in their hearts. Their reverence and obedience lasted while the earthquake lasted, but no longer. It was not the "grace," not even the holy "reverence and awe" of our text. We ought all to say for ourselves, "Let us have grace." It is for us, and for us all. We may have it if we will seek it. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us; and what is there which God is so willing to give as the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?

3. A solemn warning against negligence in this matter. "For our God is a consuming fire." It is not too much for us to serve God "with reverence and awe." God is the same now as He was at Mount Sinai. He was Jehovah, the Angel of the Covenant, the pre-incarnate Jesus then; who then spake on earth, but now speaks from heaven. All that He then showed of power and majesty is still at His command. In His incarnation storms, diseases, deaths, and devils obeyed Him, and voices from heaven attested His Deity.

(G. L. Taylor, D. D.)

I. THE DOCTRINE IS THIS: THESE HEBREWS RECEIVED A KINGDOM WHICH COULD NOT BE MOVED. And it is first to be explained, and the difficulty lies in this phrase of receiving a kingdom. For —

1. There is a kingdom.

2. This kingdom cannot be moved.

3. They received it.(1) There are many temporal kingdoms, but this is spiritual and Divine. The King is God; the Administrator-General is Christ, who, in the administration of this kingdom, is so one with God, that He is King as He is; the subjects, believing saints; the rules of government are the doctrines of the gospel; the privileges and benefits of this kingdom are the blessings of grace and glory.(2) This kingdom cannot be moved, or is not moveable or alterable, because Prince, people, laws, and administration continue for ever.(3) They had received this kingdom. A kingdom may be received either by a prince to govern it, or by subjects to be governed; the former is not, the latter is intended. For subjects to receive a kingdom, may be either duty or a benefit. As a duty, it is to submit unto the power and laws of the sovereign; as a benefit, it is to be admitted as a subject to enjoy the privileges, peace, and happiness of the kingdom. Both may be here meant, and the benefit presupposing the duty fully and finally performed, may be, and shall be, that we shall be kings and priests, and reign with Christ for ever.


1. By grace may be meant the doctrine of grace, which is the gospel so called (Titus 2:11).

2. Faith and belief.

3. The profession of this faith.

4. The sanctifying power of the Spirit, which all true believers and professors have; and this presupposeth all the former, or infolds them. To have this grace is to have this sanctifying power, and to hold it, keep it, exercise it more and more. The end why we must have and hold it is, that we may serve God. This implies that God is the Sovereign in this kingdom, and we are the subjects, and our duty is continually to serve our Lord and King. To serve Him, is not only with all humility to adore His excellent Majesty, but also sincerely, wholly, and absolutely to submit unto His power and obey His laws. This implies —(1) That in this kingdom we are not our own masters, or at liberty to do what we would. But God is our Master, and we are bound to obedience by His laws.(2) That without the grace of God continued and held fast we cannot serve our God constantly; without grace we cannot serve Him; without grace held fast we cannot serve Him to the end. The manner how we must serve God is to serve Him acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. In general, our service must be acceptable; in particular, it must be reverence and godly fear, which render it pleasing to God, and without which it cannot be accepted. Men may fear God — that is, perform some religious service to God — and yet it will not prove acceptable. For some serve God, and not with a pure and sanctified heart; some serve God in outward circumstantials and rituals, not in substantials; some serve God with a profane and wicked heart; some serve Him ignorantly or negligently, without fervency and due affection. Reverence in God's service looks at His excellency and glorious majesty, and at our own unworthiness, and the infinite distance between Him and us; and therefore we must adore God's excellent Majesty with deep humility, abasing ourselves very low, being afraid and ashamed, out of a sense of our own vileness, to come near Him, except in His great mercy and free grace He vouchsafe access. Signs of this reverence is our kneeling, bowing, covering our faces, prostration, and such like gestures. And if we were either apprehensive and sensible of our own vileness, or God's excellency, how could we possibly be so profane and unreverent in His worship? Godly fear may be the same with reverence or distinct from it. The word in the Greek signifies sometimes caution, sometimes devotion, sometimes fear, and that in the service of God, which is a religious fear, and care not to offend, but to please Him. Both reverence and fear, in this place, may farther be a more than ordinary care and diligence in the service of God, that we may please Him and be accepted of Him. For as the greatest honour with the greatest humility is due to God, that supreme Lord, whose Majesty is infinite and eternal, so the greatest caution must be used in His worship, for He will be sanctified in all them that draw near unto Him.

(G. Lawson.)


1. It is the complement and perfection of all prior dispensations of religion; that to which they were but introductory, and in which they were merged and consummated.

2. Its chief and blessed Administrator, our Lord Jesus, is declared as such to be eternal. He shall always stand in this relation to His people. He shall ever be "Head over all things to the Church."

3. Another proof that this kingdom cannot be moved is, that it perfectly answers the end of all religion.

II. THE PRACTICAL INFERENCE. "Let us have grace," says the apostle, taking it for granted that all who earnestly desire and properly seek it, shall obtain. It is most liberally offered and most freely bestowed.

1. This grace is to be obtained in order that we may "serve God." We are to return to Him from our alienation; to relinquish our guilty rebellion; and to bind ourselves to Him in sincere and ceaseless allegiance. His laws are to be ever obeyed, His glory supremely sought.

2. To those who thus resolve to give up themselves to God, it must be further shown that we are to " serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."(1) "Acceptably" — in conformity to the ordination of the Lord of this kingdom. Make mention only of the Lord Christ and of His righteousness. Let His love be all your plea; let His passion speak for you. Let all your service, prayer, love, praise, be offered through the ever-blessed Name!(2) We are also to serve with "reverence and godly fear." It ought deeply to affect and impress our minds that the very system which is so full of mercy for us, is also distinguished by its solemn views of God, and its inculcation of the profoundest reverence for His name. He is ever gracious and abundant in goodness and truth; He is also "a consuming fire"! "There is forgiveness with Him"; not, however, that He will be trifled with, but "that He may be feared." God has set His King upon the holy hill of Zion — a King lowly and having salvation; we are therefore "to serve the Lord with fear, and to rejoice with trembling."

(John Hartley.)

It is obvious that anything which can be termed the "kingdom of God" must be immovable. But we propose to consider rather some of those elements which are not so readily, not so necessarily recognised, and the word "receiving" of our text suggests the direction in which we must seek. It is a word of much force. It is more than "receiving" simply as "taking." The preposition, which is compounded with the verb, suggests the idea of "by the side"; so that when we thus receive, we receive by the placing of ourselves by the side of, in a certain identification, in a certain intimate blending of ourselves with the thing received. We thus make it our own, it becomes part of our own peculiar property — part of ourselves, we might say. Perhaps the best interpretation of this text may be found in the words of the Lord addressed to Peter, when this disciple had made his famous confession. Christ's Church was to be built upon that foundation of life and faith which the confession of Peter indicated. Not the truth as an abstract proposition; not the individual as a personal historical item; but the truth apprehended, the truth felt, the truth obeyed in the living man. This is the foundation of the Church. And this is the acceptance of the kingdom. That this is the fact, needs only a review of history to determine. The essential elements of this. kingdom were as truly existent before the coming of Jesus Christ as after. It was necessary that Christ should appear m historic time and form, and therefore lie must have appeared at some time and under some form; and yet all that His work produced, and the dependence of the moral and spiritual life of man upon Hint and His atonement were as real before as after His advent. "Christianity as old as the Creation," or at least "as old as the Fall," is a phrase that the Christian is quite prepared to accept, even though it came from a sceptical and destructive quarter. What changed, and passed, and disappeared, are not of the essence of religion. That remained, and the historical Christ, and the Christian Church, and the post-Christian era only illustrate and explain and illuminate the truths which are eternal. And this is the lesson of all the experiences through which the gospel has passed. It has known persecution, but persecution only strengthened the faith, and while it purged away the false and the weak, it but tempered and purified the true. No new element of truth introduced, no other means of acceptance with the Father, no other name given under heaven whereby men shall be guyed, but the one, "Christ Jesus, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." And, as we have said, we shall find the source of this immovableness in the possession which the kingdom takes of our own inner life. We call attention now to these subjective, these human aspects of the gospel. Do men want a religion of humanity? Here is the religion of humanity. Our spirits crave for it, our hearts leap up to it when it comes; our consciences accept it and commend it; the entire nature closes with it as the faith of man; and even the baser being, as it sinks down into its condemnation and its death, echoes back, in the cry of hatred with which it receives it, the truth, the human, the Divine, the eternal, and changeless truth of the religion of Jesus Christ. The first element in what we may call this human aspect of the immovable kingdom that we receive, is the appeal which the gospel makes to man's moral nature, and the response which is made to it upon that side of its teaching concerning the lost and helpless condition of man. Man's nature is in revolt; there is strife, and sickness, and a certain death. And these the gospel recognises, and to these it addresses itself, and so remains for ever unchanged, whilst the heart of man is what it is. God builds its foundations, and He lays them in the very depths of the human soul. Another fact of human nature which is recognised in the gospel scheme, and makes for its unchangeableness, is the complete helplessness of man to extricate himself front the position in which he finds himself. Man is lost; man in his loss is helpless. These are the two profound facts of human nature. Christianity fully recognises both of these truths. They may be called the human axioms of the Christian scheme, the first principles of salvation through Jesus Christ. And these abide for ever in the nature of man. The kingdom of grace includes a further truth — viz., that of a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. Man attains his glory in personality. It is the assertion of his personality which is the condition of the catastrophe that has overcome him. It is the sense of personality which reveals continuously and with horrid stings of upbraiding conscience and alarming sanctions of threatening law the miserable condition of helplessness in which he lies; and so man everywhere turns to the thought of a person, to any pretension of a person, to any supposed fact of a person, to the personal life, the personal work, the personal sympathy, for the salvation he requires. Hence the kingdom of salvation is the kingdom of Jesus Christ; the message of mercy is the life of Jesus; the comfort of man is the name of Jesus; the warrant of hope is the promise of Jesus. Jesus is the ceaseless, the changeless gospel of the human heart. And all this, according to the truth of the gospel, is made perpetual and abiding by a power which shall ever dwell in the hearts and lives of men. A Holy Spirit for ever dwells in the Church of God; that Spirit who was the energy of creative power; that Spirit who was the inspiration of the good, and the holy, and the true in every age; that Spirit who is the very life and communion of the Godhead itself. It is this that makes the kingdom immovable. What is genius arrayed against this power of God? What can wit with keenest arms effect against this force? What can the wear and ruin of all human life waste when there is ever this source of power and renewal to revivify and repair? The kingdom of God is immovable; and this you may receive through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

One of the Red:Republicans of 1793 was telling a good peasant of La Vendee, "We are going to pull down your churches and your steeples — all that recalls the superstitious of past ages, and all that brings to your mind the idea of God." "Citizen," replied the good Vendeean, "pull down the stars then."

(W. Baxendale.)

Let us have grace.
1. We need it, not only for reformation and change of character, but also for the preservation of character when good and upright. It must be admitted that early discipline and long-established habit may do much to mould the heart and the mind; but that these things are enough to keep the character from harm, and to plant around it an invincible protection from sudden and unexpected contingencies of trial, is contradicted by experience and by the past and present history of man in every form and condition of his existence. But look at the case in a religious point of view. I say religious, because that involves the higher purposes of being, the exercise of the nobler powers, and the destinies which reach onward through an endless futurity. When referring to this subject, virtue, in all its various aspects of loveliness and usefulness, is not only to be regarded as virtue simply, but virtue produced, upheld, and protected by a power superhuman. Under a religious influence, any one of the virtues you might name is turned into new and heavenly channels; and while it retains all its natural elements, it becomes changed in the nobleness of its motives, in the grandeur of its purposes, and in the glory of its objects. What can bring about this change but Divine grace?

2. It is obtainable. It is freely given simply upon the condition of being asked for in Sincerity and faith. As the weary traveller can freely partake of the stream of water by his side, though he be penniless, so the man burdened by guilt, without God and without hope in the world — an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, homeless, and without a guide on the broad and desert-wastes of the world — can partake freely of the grace of God, as a Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

3. Consider, in the time of any sore trial, what a source of strength and comfort may be found in the Divine grace. At such times we sink under the weight of our own suffering. Overpowered by the affliction, we find no strength within us to bear us up against it. We try according to our means to counteract the suffering; but memory, ever busy, calls up to our minds, in defiance of our earthly resources, a thousand painful associations; and the deep mourning thoughts of the heart linger where the pain arises. In vain we look around us for help — help enough to break down the agony and to crush it. But the grace of God can bring to the wounded and crushed heart a remedy. It, and it only, can blend feeling with precept; bind up in one the soothing power of sympathy with the earnestness of hope; the assurance of faith with the anticipation of rest for evermore.

(W. D. Horwood.)

Serve God acceptably.
Many things are absolutely needful for the acceptance of any service rendered unto God: of these some are not stated in the text, but they are so important that I commence with mentioning them. The first is that the person who attempts to serve God should himself be accepted. The offerer must himself be accepted in the Beloved, or his offering will be tainted by his condition and be inevitably unacceptable. The next essential is that, the act being performed by a person accepted, it should be distinctly done as unto God. Our text speaks of serving God. Alas, much is done which is in itself externally commendable, but it is not acceptable to God, because it is not rendered unto Him, and with a view to His glory. And we must take care that all this is done with faith in Christ Jesus; for it is a law of universal observation in the kingdom of heaven that "without faith it is impossible to please God." We must bring our offering to Jesus, our great High Priest, and He must present it for us, for it can only be acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. These things being mentioned, I now confine myself to the text itself, which has in it a world of solemn, heart-searching thought with regard to the acceptable service of God.

I. If we are to serve God acceptably, it must be UNDER A SENSE OF OUR IMMEASURABLE OBLIGATION TO HIM. Look, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom" &c. See, whatever service we may render to God, we must begin by being receivers. "We receiving a kingdom." What a gift to receive! This is a Divine gift; we have received, not a pauper's pension, but a kingdom — "a kingdom which cannot be moved." "But," say you, "we have not received this kingdom yet."

1. I answer that we have received it in a certain sense; we have received it first in the promise. "I appoint unto you a kingdom as My Father hath appointed unto Me." "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

2. More than this, we have received it in the principles of it. "The kingdom of God is within you." As the fairest flower lies packed away within the little shrivelled seed, and wants but time and sun to develop all its beauty, so perfection, glory, immortality and bliss unspeakable lie hidden away within the grace which God hath given unto all His people. "He that believeth in Him hath everlasting life." The life of heaven is begun within the believer.

3. Moreover, in a measure we have received this kingdom in the power of it. God hath endowed you with power from on high by giving you the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

4. Moreover, you have received much of the provision and protection of that kingdom.

II. Acceptable service must be rendered to God Is THE POWER OF DIVINE GRACE. "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably." Note, then, that acceptable service to God is not offered in the power of nature, not even of nature at its best, when we call it good nature and philanthropy; but in the service of God everything must be the fruit of grace. You are to serve the Lord, not in the strength of your own wit or experience, or talent, but in the energy of the new life which God has given you, and in the power of the grace which is continually bestowed upon you moment by moment as you seek it of the Lord.

III. To "serve God acceptably," WE MUST DO IT WITH REVERENCE. The word, according to Bishop Hopkins, signifies a holy shamefacedness. The angels veil their faces with their wings when they worship the Most High, and we must veil ours with humility. The angels feel their own littleness when they stand before the presence of the dread Supreme. You and I who are much less than angels, and have sinned, should, when we come before God, be covered with blushes. Our heart should be filled with wonder that we are called to this high privilege, though we are so unworthy of it.

IV. The other word is, "with godly fear"; and this suggests that we should serve God IN THE SPIRIT OF HOLY CAREFULNESS. We ought to fear lest we should offend the Lord even while we are serving Him; fear lest the sacrifice should be a blemished one, and so be rejected at the altar; fear lest there should be something about our spirit and temper which would grieve the Lord. He is a jealous God, and must be served with holy carefulness.

V. We must cultivate A PROFOUND SENSE OF THE DIVINE HOLINESS and of the wrath of God against sin, "For our God is a consuming fire." Observe, then, from this most solemn sentence that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament (Deuteronomy 4:24). While the Lord is merciful, infinitely so, and His name is Love; yet still our God is a consuming fire, and sin shall not live in His sight. If your offering and mine be evil, it will be an abomination unto Him. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; if our worship and service are mingled with hypocrisy and pride, He will not endure them.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. OUR RELATION TO GOD, PRODUCED BY THE GOSPEL, NECESSARILY DEMANDS OUR SERVICE. God has given us salvation at a tremendous cost. He not only sent His Son, but He spared not that Son. God not only spike by prophets, and by holy men of old, but He was "in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." We serve, therefore, not merely an existent Deity, a splendid and majestic God, but we serve One who has wrought and suffered loss, and made valuable cost, and borne diminishing, and self-emptying, and death for us. The kingdom is not a mere natural growth, not a mere inheritance; it is a conquest gained after terrible conflict, assured only at the price of the blood of Jesus Christ. Hence logic, and rhetoric, and poetry, and art — these are poor responses to such service for us as God has rendered. Even praise, though it should be in hymns themselves inspired, seems feeble as a return for such affluence of service as we have received. We, too, must serve; we, too, must render back in thankfulness all that we have, all that we are.

II. THE SERVICE WHICH WE CAN RENDER UNTO GOD IS THE CONTINUAL SENSE OF GRATEFULNESS UNDER WHICH WE OUGHT TO LIVE TOWARDS HIM. The position of the believing recipient of the grace of God is a paradox. He must serve; and yet what service can he render? What does God need? How shall the Infinite and the Eternal be added to or made more great? Besides, what have we that we can render? All that is ours is already God's. From Him it came; by Him it consists; on Him it depends. To give Him aught, then, is only to give Him His own. Oh, wondrous paradox of a Divine necessity! We must serve, and we have no service; we must render, and we have and are nothing. See yonder snowflake dropping into the ocean. It has vanished in a moment, and is lost in the boundless fulness of that heaving deep. What can the snowflake add to the immensity of waters? Was it not itself exhaled from that ocean, and ascending as vapour, caught by the cold of the sky, and sent back again to its ocean source? See yonder mirror, flashing back the light towards the sun. What shall that reflected beam add to the glory and brightness of the centre of all light? It is only the return of the ray upon its own path, which had already come from the sun itself. And so what is our service, what is the best we can do, the richest we can give? It has only found the place whence it first came. Here, then, our text comes to our help. "Let us have gratefulness," it says, "and by this let us serve God acceptably." "Whoso offereth thanks glorifieth Me, and follows a path in which I will show him the salvation of Elohim." This spirit changes all life into a service. Every scene is a temple. Every word is worship. A work of bounty, of compassion, of self-denial, does not exhaust this grateful spirit. It does always its best, and then, when the best is done, cries with true self-knowledge, "We are but unprofitable servants." And may it not be here, that the quality of the service, as suggested by the word "acceptably" of our text, should rightly be considered? Acceptable service we are commanded to render, and the more we contemplate the service, and the power we have to pay it, the more clearly we find our inability, our utter bankruptcy even of gratitude. Then, we remember that the sacrifice, which redeemed our souls from death, the atonement by which our sins were expiated and our guilt removed, still remains all efficient, ceaseless in its power, infinite in its appealing force with God. "The things that were shaken" passed away, we learned, "that the things that could not be shaken" might remain. And the blended law and love which were found in the " blood that speaketh better things than that of Abel," in the Jesus, "Mediator of the new covenant," these passed not, but remain for ever. And so our failing gratitude, our empty return, our poor gift of service — these can all be filled to a Divine fulness at the Cross of Jesus.

III. WE LEARN THE SPIRIT IN WHICH OUR SERVICE SHOULD BE FOR EVER RENDERED. "With reverent submission, and godly fear." Reverent submission is the becoming, and careful, and observant attitude of the soul, keenly alive to the holiness of God and its own unworthiness. Our words should be few and fitting and well chosen, our penitence deep and real, our feeling true and sweet, our desires pure and high; and thus should we worship and bow down with "reverence and godly fear."

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

I once saw a beautiful device and motto painted on the walls of a Sabbath-school. It was an ox standing between an altar and a plough, with the words underneath, "Ready for either." The altar represented suffering, and the plough serving; and the ox stood ready to be laid on the altar or to be yoked into the plough, equally ready for suffering or serving, as the owner wished. We should ask God to make us ready for either. Your life will be a poor withered thing unless you try to serve Christ. An old man reading the Bible came to the words, "Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." He stopped and said with a smile, "Yes, and ye are your own friends too." He is his own worst enemy who shuns the service of Christ.

With reverence and godly fear.
Robert Hall once remarked, when criticising the habit of a lady addicted to easy, familiar talk of the Divine Being: "It is a great mistake to affect this kind of familiarity with the King of kings, and speak of Him as though He were a next door neighbour, from the pretence of love."

Love and fear are the positive and negative poles of the same electric bar, and are both forces convertible into aids to holiness. Love rules in the home, and its sunshine is the life of all who dwell therein; but fear of marring the domestic peace, spoiling the domestic purity, or poisoning the domestic joy, is a temper that pervades and chastens, hallows and enlarges the household life. Our soldiers fight for the love of country, but how unspeakably they are goaded forward in the severity of battle by the dread of losing their country's flag! In the finest types of married life, it is not till years of perfect communion and of character-assimilating love have made husband and wife a complete unity, and blent soul with soul, and will with will, that all fear is gone — if indeed it ever is. Certainly in the earlier stages it is a spur to that continual and anxious attention to aid, and not to hinder, in developing the one life, which finally becomes the gracious habit and beautiful form of the domestic ministry.

(J. Clifford, D. D.)

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