Isaiah 5:20
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who turn darkness to light and light to darkness, who replace bitter with sweet and sweet with bitter.
A Shameful DoctrineR. South, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
An Espied Difference Between Virtue and Vice in the Nature of ThingsN. Emmons, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
Calling Evil Good and Good EvilJ. Cunningham, M. A.Isaiah 5:20
Confusion in Men's Notions of Good and EvilJ. Jortin, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
Defective Moral SenseH. O. Mackey.Isaiah 5:20
Giving False NamesW.M. Statham Isaiah 5:20
Good and EvilJ. Jortin, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
Good and EvilR. South, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
Little Evils Making Way for GreaterIsaiah 5:20
Perverting the Right Ways of the LordFlavel Cook, B. A.Isaiah 5:20
Sinful NomenclatureDean Farrar, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
Spiritual PerversityW. Clarkson Isaiah 5:20
Straining At a Gnat and Swallowing a CamelK. Arvine.Isaiah 5:20
The Danger of Depraving the Moral SenseBishop S. Wilberforce, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
The Guilt of Establishing Unscriptural Principles of CondT. Gisborne, M. A.Isaiah 5:20
The Importance of Adequate Impressions of SinR. Tuck Isaiah 5:20
The Misapplication of Words and NamesR. South, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
The Perversion of Right and WrongC. Moore, M. A.Isaiah 5:20
The Sin of Confounding Good and EvilG. Mathews, M. A.Isaiah 5:20
The Unchangeable Difference of Good and EvilS. Clarke, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
Woe unto Them that Call Evil Good and Good EvilJ. A. Alexander, D. D.Isaiah 5:20
The Evil and the End of IntemperanceW. Clarkson Isaiah 5:11, 12, 22
Four Grievous SinsR. Tuck Isaiah 5:18, 20, 21, 23
Analysis of SinE. Johnson Isaiah 5:18-24

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Light is here cast upon the secret of Israel's defection. The "woe" has come from many causes, but here is one too often forgotten root of evil - public estimate as expressed in public speech.

I. THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF LANGUAGE. We are all deceived at times by a fair speech that covers foul things. There is no tendency more dangerous than to call the vicious unfortunate, or the wicked gay. By this means the evil is concealed from the conscience. The prophet speaks of the tendency when it has gone so far as to exchange to opposite poles. The good is called "evil," and the evil "good." Even so "a good fellow" is often the synonym for "a bad fellow;" for revelry and selfish enjoyment, and neglect of home, often characterize the good fellow. The young are often led astray by evil, in the angel-dress of beautiful speech.

II. THE MORAL DECEIT OF SIN. We are promised brightness, good cheer, and freedom from gloom; whilst evil brings darkness instead of light - a darkness which shuts out God, and a gloom which takes away all the brightness of innocent joy. We are promised a "sweet" bread; and lo! how "bitter" it is to the taste; what a flavor it leaves behind! Afterwards! Men should think of that, Like the red wine-cup, pleasant and luscious at first, afterwards "it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." We can never make a philosophy of life out of "first experiences. We have only to wait and we shall find that the way of transgressors is hard."

III. THE MORAL JUDGMENT OF GOD. "Woe unto them l" Who? Why, special woe to those who "put" it. False counselors, like Ahithophel to Absalom; false teachers, like those who corrupt the truth. There is leadership everywhere-at school and college, in the Church and in the world! Let no man despise the warnings of God. - W.M.S.

Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil.
There is a customary mode of talking, in which familiar formulas of praise and censure, as to moral objects, are employed as if by rote, revolving the admission of important principles, and recognising in its full extent the grand distinction between moral good and evil. Such men will speak familiarly of other men and of their acts as right or wrong, as virtuous or vicious, in a manner which implies not only preference of judgment, but of inclination; so that if we draw conclusions from their language merely, we should certainly infer that they not only understood the principles of sound morality, but loved them and obeyed them. The latter conclusion would, in too many instances, be found to be erroneous, not because the person, in his talk, was guilty of deliberate hypocrisy, or even intended to deceive at all, but because his words conveyed more than he meant, especially when phrases used of course, and by a sort of habit, came to be subjected to the rules of a strict interpretation. In all such cases it will soon be found, upon a little observation, that the dialect in question, however near it may approach to that of evangelical morality, is still distinguished from it by indubitable marks.

1. Any one who thus indulges in the use of such conventional expressions as imply a recognition of those principles of morals which are laid down in the Bible, but whose conduct repudiates and nullifies them, avoids, as if instinctively, those terms of censure and of approbation which belong distinctively to Scripture, and conches himself to those which are common to the Bible and the heathen moralists, to Christian ethics and the code of honour. He will speak of an act, or a course of acts, as wrong, perhaps as vicious, — it may even be as wicked, but not as sinful. The difference between the terms, as viewed by such a person, seems to be that vice and crime are referable merely to an abstract standard, and perhaps a variable one; while sin brings into view the legislative and judicial character of God. Sin, too, is associated most minds with the humiliating doctrine of a natural depravity, while vice and crime suggest the idea of a voluntary aberration on the part of one by nature free from taint, and abundantly able to stand fast in his own strength. By tracing such diversities, however slight and trivial they seem to be when in themselves considered, we may soon learn to distinguish the characteristic dialect of worldly moralists from that of evangelical religion.

2. It will also be found that in the use of terms employed by both, there is a difference of sense, it may be unintentional, denoting no small difference in point of principle. Especially is this the case in reference to those important principles of morals which bear most directly upon the ordinary business of life, and come most frequently into collision with the selfish interests and inclinations of ungodly men. Two men, for instance, shall converse together upon truth and falsehood, upon honesty and fraud, employing the same words and phrases, and, perhaps, aware of no diversity of meaning in their application. And yet, when you come to ascertain the sense in which they severally use the terms employed by both, you shall find that while the one adopts the rigorous and simple rule of truth and falsehood which is laid down in the Bible and by common sense, the other holds it with so many qualifications and exceptions, as almost to render it a rule more honoured in the breach than the observance. There can be no doubt that this diversity in the use of language exerts a constant and extensive influence on human intercourse, and leads to many of those misconceptions which are tending daily to increase the mutual distrust of men in one another's candour and sincerity.

3. Who pretends to think that men are often, I might almost say ever, better in the bent of their affections and their moral dispositions than in the general drift of their discourse? Who does not know that they are often worse, and that where any marked diversity exists, the difference is commonly in favour of his words at the expense of his thoughts and feelings? Nothing, however, could be more unjust or utterly subversive of impartial judgment in this matter, than to choose as tests or symptoms mere occasional expressions.

4. It must not be forgotten that a rational nature is incapable of loving evil, simply viewed as evil, or of hating good, when simply viewed as good. Whatever thing you love, you thereby recognise as good; and what you abhor, you thereby recognise as evil. When, therefore, men profess to look upon that as excellent which in their hearts and lives they treat as hateful, and to regard as evil that which they are seeking after, and which they delight in, they are not expressing their own feelings, but assenting to the judgment of others. They are measuring the object by a borrowed standard, while their own is wholly different. And if they are really so far enlightened as to think sincerely that the objects of their passionate attachment are evil, this is only admitting that their own affections are disordered and at variance with reason. So the sinner may believe on God's authority or man's that sin is evil and that holiness is good, but as a matter of affection and of inclination, his corrupted taste will still reject the sweet as bitter, and receive the bitter as sweet; his diseased eye will still confound light with darkness, and his lips, whenever they express the feelings of his heart, will continue to call good evil and evil good.

5. The text does not teach us merely that punishment awaits those who choose evil in preference to good, but that an outward mark of those who hate God, and whom God designs to punish, is their confounding moral distinctions in their conversation.

6. When one who admits in words the great first principles of morals, takes away so much on one hand and grants so much on the other, as to obliterate the practical distinction between right and wrong; when with one breath he asserts the inviolable sanctity of truth, but with the next makes provision for benevolent, professional, jocose, or thoughtless falsehood; when he admits the paramount importance of religious duties in general, but in detail dissects away the vital parts as superstition, sanctimony, or fanaticism, and leaves a mere abstraction or an outward form behind; when he approves the requisitions of the law and the provisions of the Gospel in so far as they apply to other people, but repudiates them as applying to himself; — I ask, whatever his professions or his creed may be, whether he does not virtually, actually, call evil good and good evil?

7. Again, I ask, whether he who in the general admits the turpitude of fraud, impurity, intemperance, malignity, and other vicious dispositions with their practical effects, and thus appears to be an advocate for purity of morals, but when insulated cases or specific acts of vice are made the subjects of discussion, treats them all as peccadilloes, inadvertencies, absurdities, indiscretions, or, perhaps, as virtues modestly disguised, can be protected by the mere assertion of a few general principles from the fatal charge of calling evil good? And, as the counterpart of this, I ask whether he who praises and admires all goodness, not embodied in the life of living men or women, but detests it when thus realised in concrete excellence, does not really and practically call good evil?

8. And I ask, lastly, whether he who, in relation to the self-same acts, performed by men of opposite descriptions, has a judgment suited to the case of each, but who is all compassion to the wilful transgressions of the wicked, and all inexorable sternness to the innocent infirmities of godly men; he who strains at a gnat in the behaviour of the meek and conscientious Christian, but can swallow a camel in the conduct of the self-indulgent votary of pleasure; he who lauds religion as exhibited in those who give him no uneasiness by their example, but maligns and disparages it when, from its peculiar strength and brightness, it reflects a glare of painful and intolerable light upon his own corruptions, — let his maxims of moral philosophy be what they will, — does not, to all intents and purposes, incur the woe pronounced on those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter?

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

uct: —

I. Among the most prominent illustrations of the present subject we may produce THOSE PERSONS, WHO REPRESENT ENTHUSIASM AS RELIGION. By enthusiasm, as applied with a reference to religion, I understand the subjection of the judgment, in points of religious faith or practice, to the influence of the imagination.

II. Let us now turn our eyes to the opposite quarter; to MEN WHO DENOMINATE RELIGION ENTHUSIASM. Enthusiasm is on principle busy and loquacious. Lukewarmness, though capable of being roused to a turbulent defence of forms and of its own conduct, is by nature silent and supine. Hence enthusiasm, in proportion to the relative number of its adherents, raises a much louder stir, and attracts far more extensive notice, than lukewarmness. But let the torpid conviction of the lukewarm be contrasted with the illusion of the enthusiast, and the former will prove itself not less dangerous, and generally more deliberately criminal, than the latter.


IV. We may in the next place produce as illustrative of the general proposition WITH THE CHARACTER OF CENSORIOUSNESS ALL OPINIONS AND DESCRIPTIONS OF GUILT CONFORMABLE TO THE SCRIPTURES. From the mouth of these apologisers no sin receives its appropriate denomination. Some lighter phrase is ever on the lips to cloke its enormity, perhaps to transform it into a virtue. Is profaneness noticed? It is an idle habit by which nothing is intended. Is extravagance named? It is a generous disregard of money. Is luxury mentioned? It is a hospitable desire to see our friends happy. What is worldly-mindedness? It is prudence. What is pride? It is proper spirit, a due attention to our own dignity. What is ambition? A laudable desire of distinction and preeminence; a just sense of our own excellence and desert. What is servility? It is skill in making our way to advancement. What are intemperance and sins of impurity? They are indecorums, irregularities, human frailties, customary indiscretions, the natural and venial consequences of cheerfulness, company, and temptation; the unguarded ebullitions of youth, which in a little time will satiate and cure themselves. Now all this is candour: all this is charity. If a reference be made to religion, these men immediately enlarge on the mercy of God.

V. There yet remains to be specified an exemplification of the guilt menaced with vengeance by the prophet: A PERVERSION OF PRINCIPLE which, while the lower ranks are happily too little refined to be infected with it, taints with a greater or a less degree of its deceitful influence the bulk of the middle and higher classes of the community. By what criterion are applause and censure apportioned? By the rule of honour. "Honour" reigns, because multitudes "love the praise of men more than the praise of God." It reigns, because "they receive honour one of another; and seek not that honour which cometh from God only." What is this idol, which men worship in the place of the living God? The votary of honour may delude himself with the idea that, whatever be the ordinary expressions of his lips, his heart is dedicated to religion. But his heart is fixed on his idol, human applause. In the place of the love and the fear of God he substitutes the love of praise and the fear of shame. In the place of conscience he substitutes pride. For the dread of guilt he substitutes the apprehension of disgrace.

(T. Gisborne, M. A.)

Moral good and evil are as truly and as widely different in their own nature as the perceptions of the outward senses; and God has endued us with faculties of the soul as well fitted to distinguish them, as the bodily senses are to discern corporeal objects. If any man, notwithstanding this, will obstinately call evil good and good evil, and will deny all distinctions between virtue and vice, he must as much have laid aside the use of his natural reason and understanding as he that would conferred light and darkness must contradict his senses and deny the evidence of his clearest sight. And when such a person falls finally into the just punishment of sin, he will no more deserve pity than one who falls down a precipice because he would not open his eyes to discern that light which should have guided him in his way.

I. THERE IS ORIGINALLY IN THE VERY NATURE OF THINGS A NECESSARY AND ETERNAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL, BETWEEN VIRTUE AND VICE, WHICH THE REASON OF THINGS DOES ITSELF OBLIGE MEN TO HAVE CONSTANT REGARD TO. This is supposed in the text by the prophet's comparing the difference between good and evil to that most obvious and sensible difference of light and darkness.



1. Religion and virtue are truly most agreeable to nature, and vice and wickedness are of all things the most contrary to it.

2. Knowledge of the most important and fundamental doctrines of religion must be very easy to be attained, and gross ignorance of our duty can by no means be innocent or excusable, our minds being as naturally fitted to understand the most necessary parts of it as our eyes are to judge of colours or our palate of tastes.

3. The judgments of God upon impenitent sinners, who obstinately disobey the most reasonable and necessary laws in the world, are true and just and righteous judgments.

4. Whatever doctrine is contrary to the nature and attributes, of God, whatever is plainly unwise or wicked, whatever tends to confound the essential and eternal differences of good and evil, must necessarily be false.

5. Every person or doctrine which would separate religion from a holy life, and make it to consist merely in such speculative opinions as may be defended by an ill liver, or in such outward solemnities of worship as may be performed by a vicious and corrupt man, does greatly corrupt religion.

(S. Clarke, D. D.)

The difference of good and evil is a subject of the highest concern, since upon it is founded the truth of religion, the obligation to virtue, and the peace and satisfaction of our minds. Upon it is founded the knowledge which we can attain of God's moral perfections; for we cannot prove that God is good, unless we have antecedent notions of goodness considered in itself, and separated from all law, will, or appointment, Divine or human. I shall, therefore, now proceed to prove the different natures of our actions as to moral good and evil —

I. FROM THE HISTORY OF THE MOST ANCIENT TIMES AS RECORDED IN THE SACRED BOOKS. From the whole dispensation of providence, as set forth in the Old Testament, it may be collected that the distinctions of right and wrong, good and evil, just and unjust, might always have been evident to those who would make a proper use of their senses and faculties. But that we may not carry this point too far, it is to be observed, that men being frail and fallible, surrounded with temptations, and having passions as well as reason, God did not totally leave them to discover their duty by their own natural abilities. Certain religious traditions were, without question, delivered down by Adam and his sons, and some prophets and pious teachers were raised up in the earliest ages from time to time by the Divine Providence to instruct and correct the world, and to enforce the laws of nature and the moral duties, by declaring that God required the observance of them, and that He would be the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. Such an one was Enoch, and such was Noah, prophets and righteous men, and preachers of righteousness in their generations.

II. FROM OUR RELATION TO GOD. That there is a Maker and Governor of the world, who is endued with all perfections, is evident from His works. Without any instructor, besides our own understanding, we know that we are. and that we did not make ourselves, and that we owe our being to a superior cause; and then we proceed to the discovery of a First Cause of us and of all other things; and thence we also discern our duty towards Him. It is absurd to suppose that God should have supreme power, and we not be bound to revere Him; that He should have perfect goodness, and we not be bound to love Him. He who gives life and the comforts of life to His creatures, hath a right to their gratitude and to their best services: and if it be absurd not to think ourselves obliged to obey Him, it is right and fit to obey Him, and to conform our will to His. So that, with respect to God, there must be moral good or moral evil in our behaviour. As the foundations of religion are thus fixed and unchangeable, so the continual practice of religion is necessary through the whole course of our lives. They who seem to have little or no value for religion yet will often tell you that they have a great regard for virtue, for honour, for justice, and for gratitude to friends and benefactors. If they would reason consistently, they would find the same obligations in a higher manner to serve God, who is both their Master and their Father.

III. Another way to find out the differences of good and evil is FROM THE CONSIDERATION OF THE PECULIAR FRAME OF HUMAN NATURE. The beasts, though so much our inferiors, fulfil the designs of providence by pursuing the ends for which they were made. But they are no patterns for us whom God hath endued with faculties above sense, and who are able to control and subdue the inclinations which we have in common with brutes. Nature hath limited and determined their appetites within certain bounds, which they have no desire to transgress. Nature hath not so dealt with mankind; for our desires are impetuous and boundless: but then God hath implanted in us understanding and reason to direct them, and to judge what is right and wrong. And thus, as man by the help of reason and reflection, and by moral motives, becomes vastly superior to the brutes; so by vice, and particularly by intemperance and sensuality, he sinks as much beneath them, and runs into excesses which are not to be found in them. Hence the real and moral differences of good and evil may be proved; for the superior faculties in man must have a superior good agreeable to them. And as the inferior faculties, namely, the bodily senses, have always external objects suitable to them, or unsuitable; so it is with those nobler powers of the mind, thinking, reflecting, inquiring, judging, refusing, and choosing. The proper objects of these powers are moral or religious good and evil. No faculty creates its own object, but only discerns it. In like manner, truth and falsehood, right and wrong, are the objects of the understanding; and no man surely is so absurd or stupid as to think that we can make a thing true by believing it, or false by disbelieving it. So virtue or goodness is the proper object of our unprejudiced and reasonable desires. Everyone would infallibly choose it, if he acted according to his nature, to pure and undefiled reason, and were not seduced by sensual motives and temporary views.

IV. We may also judge of good and evil BY THE COMMON INTEREST AND SENSE OF MANKIND. And here we are not to be determined so much by the opinion of this or that person, though eminent perhaps in some respects, as by the general consent of men in approving things praiseworthy and conducing to the common advantage. Some things are so universally esteemed, that even they who do not practise them must approve them; and this shows their intrinsic and invariable excellence. For men are very partial to their own conduct, and therefore when they approve virtue in others, though themselves be vicious, there must be an overbearing evidence in favour of it. The common and public interest cannot be supported by any measures contrary to virtue and goodness.


(J. Jortin, D. D.)

Whence comes it to pass that men should lose the notions of good and evil so far as to stand in need of a Divine law to reinforce them, whilst yet they never lose the notion of things pleasing or hurtful to their senses? We may answer —

1. That sense hath usually nothing to corrupt its judgment; but it is not so with the determinations which the mind passeth upon well-doing and evil-doing; for there is often an inclination one way more than another, and this inclination is towards the wrong way, arising from various causes internal and external; so that serious consideration and caution are necessary to go before the judgment.

2. The reasons of good and evil are not usually understood in their whole extent by the bulk of mankind. It is generally agreed that there are some right and some wrong actions; but accurate notions of right and wrong have seldom been found where revelation hath not been received; which should teach us to set a just value upon the Gospel.

3. Great examples have greatly tended to corrupt men's notions of good and evil. Many there are who judge not for themselves, but take up with the judgment of others; and seeing men of knowledge, rank, and figure, practising iniquity without fear or remorse, they think they may do the same, and follow their leaders.

4. The prevalence of any vice in any country or society takes away men's apprehensions of the evil of it. When a wee is uncommon, men stare at it as at a monster; but when it is generally practised, they are insensibly reconciled to it.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

1. Give some general account of the nature of good and evil, and of the reasons upon which they are founded.

2. Show that the way by which good and evil commonly operate upon the mind of man, is by those respective names and appellations, by which they are notified and conveyed to the mind.

3. Show the mischief which directly, naturally, and unavoidably follows, from the misapplication and confusion of these names.

4. Show the grand and principal instances in which the abuse or misapplication of those names has such a fatal and pernicious effect.

(R. South, D. D.)

I. IN RELIGION. Religion is certainly in itself the best thing in the world; and it is as certain that, as it has been managed by some, it has had the worst effects: such being the nature, or rather the fate of the best things, to be transcendently the worst upon corruption.



1. An outrageous, ungoverned insolence and revenge, frequently passes by the name of sense of honour.

2. Bodily abstinence, joined with a demure, affected countenance, is often called piety and mortification.

3. Some have found a way to smooth over an implacable, unalterable spleen and malice, by dignifying it with the name of constancy.

4. A staunch, resolved temper of mind, not suffering a man to sneak, fawn, cringe, and accommodate himself to all humours, though never so absurd and unreasonable, as commonly branded with and exposed under the character of pride, morosity and ill-nature.

5. Some would needs have a pragmatical prying into and meddling with other men's matters, a fitness for business, forsooth, and accordingly call and account none but such persons men of business.

(R. South, D. D.)

I. I shall first EXPLAIN THE MEANING, AND THEN CONFIRM THE TRUTH OF THIS OBSERVATION. Every thing has a nature which is peculiar to itself, and which is essential to its very existence. Light has a nature by which it is distinguished from darkness. Sweet has a nature by which it is distinguished from bitter. Animals have a nature by which they are distinguished from men. Men have a nature by which they are distinguished from angels. Angels have a nature by which they are distinguished from God. And God has a nature by which He is distinguished from all other beings. Now such different natures lay a foundation for different obligations; and different obligations lay a foundation for virtue and vice in all their different degrees. As virtue and vice, therefore, take their origin from the nature of things, so the difference between moral good and moral evil is as immutable as the nature of things from which it results. The truth of this assertion will appear if we consider —

1. That the essential difference between virtue and vice may be known by those who are wholly ignorant of God. The barbarians, who saw the viper on Paul's hand, knew the nature and ill-desert of murder. The pagans, who were in the ship with Jonah, knew the difference between natural and moral evil, and considered the former as a proper and just punishment of the latter. And even little children know the nature of virtue and vice. But how would children and heathens discover the essential difference between moral good and evil, if this difference were not founded in the nature of things?

2. Men are capable of judging what is right or wrong in respect to the Divine character and conduct. This God implicitly allows, by appealing to their own judgment, whether He has not treated them according to perfect rectitude. In the context, He solemnly cells upon His people to judge of the propriety and benignity of His conduct towards them (vers. 3, 4; also Jeremiah 2:5; Ezekiel 18:25, 29; Micah 6:1-5). In these solemn appeals to the consciences of men, God does not require them to believe that His character is good because it is His character; nor that His laws are good because they are His laws; nor that His conduct is good because it is His conduct. But He allows them to judge of His character, His laws and His conduct, according to the immutable difference between right and wrong, in the nature of things; which is the infallible rule by which to judge of the moral conduct of all moral beings.

3. God cannot destroy this difference without destroying the nature of things.

4. The Deity cannot alter the nature of things so as to destroy the essential distinction between virtue and vice. We can conceive that God should make great alterations in us, and in the objects about us; but we cannot conceive that He should make any alterations in us, and in the objects about us, which should transform virtue into vice, or vice into virtue, or which should destroy their essential difference.

II. TAKE NOTICE OF ONE OR TWO OBJECTIONS which may be made against what has been said.

1. To suppose that the difference between virtue and vice results from the nature of things, is derogatory and injurious to the character of God. For, on this supposition, there is a standard of right and wrong superior to the will of the Deity, to which He is absolutely bound to submit. To say that the difference between right and wrong does not depend upon the will of God, but upon the nature of things, is no more injurious to His character than to say that it does not depend upon His will whether two and two shall be equal to four; whether a circle and square shall be different figures; whether the whole shall be greater than a part; or whether a thing shall exist and not exist at the same time. These things do not depend upon the will of God, because they cannot depend upon His will. So the difference between virtue and vice does not depend upon the will of God, because His will cannot make or destroy this immutable difference. And it is more to the honour of God to suppose that He cannot, than that He can, perform impossibilities. But if the eternal rule of right must necessarily result from the nature of things, then it is no reproach to the Deity to suppose that He is morally obliged to conform to it. To set God above the law of rectitude, is not to exalt, but to debase His character. It is the glory of any moral agent to conform to moral obligation. The supreme excellency of the Deity consists, not in always doing what He pleases, but in always pleasing to do what is fit and proper in the nature of things.

2. There is no other difference between virtue and vice than what arises from custom, education, or caprice. Different nations judge differently upon moral subjects. This objection is more specious than solid. For —(1) It is certain that all nations do feel and acknowledge the essential distinction between virtue and vice. They all have words to express this distinction. Besides, all nations have some penal laws, which are made to punish those who are guilty of criminal actions.(2) No nation ever did deny the distinction between virtue and vice. Though the Spartans allowed their children to take things from others without their knowledge and consent, yet they did not mean to allow them to steal, in order to increase their wealth, and gratify a sordid, avaricious spirit. They meant to distinguish between taking and stealing. The former they considered as a mere act, which was suited to teach their children skill and dexterity in their lawful pursuits, but the latter they detested and punished as an infamous crime. So when the Chinese expose their useless children, or their useless parents, they mean to do it as an act of kindness both to their friends and to the public. These, and all other mistakes of the same nature, are to be ascribed to the corruption of the human heart, which blinds and stupefies the conscience, and prevents it from doing its proper office.


1. If there be an immutable difference between virtue and vice, right and wrong, then there is a propriety in every man's judging for himself in matters of morality and religion.

2. If there be a standard of right and wrong in the nature of things, then it is not impossible to arrive at absolute certainty in our moral and religious sentiments.

3. If right and wrong are founded in the nature of things, then it is impossible for any man to become a thorough sceptic in morality and religion.

4. If right and wrong, truth and falsehood, be founded in the nature of things, then it is not a matter of indifference what moral and religious sentiments mankind imbibe and maintain.

5. If right and wrong, truth and falsehood, be founded in the nature of things, then there appears to be a great propriety in God's appointing a day of judgment.

6. All who go to heaven will go there by the unanimous voice of the whole universe.

7. All who are excluded from heaven will be excluded from it by the unanimous voice of all moral beings. It will appear clearly to the view of the universe, that all who are condemned ought to be condemned and punished forever.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)


1. Not a mere error or defect of judgment, but a habit, practice or system of perverting right and wrong.

2. Examples of "calling evil good, and good evil" (Psalm 10:3; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:15; Luke 16:15; 2 Peter 2:19). Putting bondage to sin for liberty, and counting Christian freedom to be servitude.

3. Examples of "putting darkness for light, and light for darkness." The traditions of men for doctrines of God. Oppositions of science, falsely so called, for truths of Holy Writ.

4. Examples of "putting bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." "Pleasures of sin" counted sweet; the joy of the Lord despised. (Proverbs 9:17) "Stolen waters (i.e., sins) are sweet." (Proverbs 5:4.) "Her end is bitter as wormwood." (Proverbs 20:17.)


1. Satan the first on record who thus acted. (Genesis 3:1-5.) It is an old device.

2. As he did, so do his children and dupes (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

3. Men perverted become perverters, "deceiving and being deceived."

4. The practice is easy, and seems to be a source of malicious pleasure to those who so do.


1. The practice is, to a mournful extent, successful, because of our weak and perverted fallen nature.

2. It discredits God's words and ways.

3. It distresses the righteous (Ezekiel 13:22).

4. It deceives the young and unstable.

5. It destroys both the perverters and the perverted.

IV. JUDGMENT ON THESE PERVERTERS. "Woe unto them" (Proverbs 17:15).

1. By these perversions the perverters become such as described in Ephesians 4:18, 19; 1 Timothy 4:2.

2. It is too true that men may come at length to say, "Evil, be thou my good."

3. They who have done the works of the devil in perverting and confusing right and wrong, will share the devil's judgment.


1. How to be kept from sharing with such perverters, and from being seduced or deceived by them; most important to know this.

2. See the example of Jesus in His temptation. Prayer and keeping close to Holy Scripture.

3. Copy His example.

4. Gospel "light," "good," "sweet," here set forth, showing the way of salvation by faith in Christ.

5. Pray that the Spirit may "guide you into all the truth," and "give you a right judgment in all things."

6. Hereafter good and evil, light and darkness, sweet and bitter, will be known, seen, and tasted, without the confusion and perversion which now prevail.

(Flavel Cook, B. A.)

Reproof and denunciation, distasteful as they ever must be, have their office. The Word of God is something more than a pleasant song. It is sometimes a fire to scathe, a hammer to dash in pieces, a sword to divide the soul and spirit, the joints and marrow; and therefore it is a great sin to try to blunt the edge of the sword of the Spirit by calling evil good and good evil.

I. IT IS A GREAT SIN to disregard or even to underrate in the least degree the eternal distinctions of right and wrong, to view things in their wrong aspects and to call things by their wrong names. "He that saith to the wicked, 'Thou art righteous,'" says Solomon, "him shall the people curse." And Paul tells us there are some things that ought not to be so much as named among those who live holy lives. The evil word is a long step beyond the evil thought. Speak of sin in its true terms and you strip it of its seductiveness. Call a vice by its real name and you rob it of half its danger by exposing its grossness. The very guiltiest of sinners is he who paints the gates of hell with the colours of Paradise, and gives names of clear disparagement and dislike to scrupulous honour and stainless purity.

II. THE CAUSE OF THIS SIN is due to a fading appreciation of moral evil, to a tampering with it, and to a destruction of that healthy instinct which revolts at it. This is illustrated in the third chapter of Genesis. Light words and careless thoughts are not indifferent things. Character is not cut in marble; it may become diseased as our bodies do. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good.

III. THE PUNISHMENT OF THIS SIN is the failure of all life, the waste, the loss, the shipwreck of the human soul. The rose is a glorious flower, but it withers sometimes and produces nothing but mouldering and loathly buds, because there is some poison in the sap or some canker at the root. Careers that might have been prosperous and happy are sometimes cut short, blighted with disgrace, the conscience seared, the distinction between right and wrong lost. They are mortified to painlessness, and this is death. This is the worst woe that can befall those who miscall things which God has stamped with His own signet.

(Dean Farrar, D. D.)

I. Consider the particular species of crime against which we have the warning of the text AS IT RELATES TO THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS GUILTY OF IT.

1. There is scarcely one of us who does not think himself sufficiently religious; and yet, to what does the religion of many a man amount?

2. If we can be successful enough to persuade men to believe that the slight notion which they have of religion is insufficient, we then find them flying to another subterfuge to screen them from its duties, by affixing the name of evil to what we pronounce to be good, and calling our representation of religion morose and gloomy.

3. Religion being once rendered so slight in the mind, once esteemed so gloomy and unworthy a pursuit, its restraints are neglected, its principles evaded, and the wavering deceitfulness of men's hearts made the standard of men's actions.

4. To these notions of indifference concerning religion, we may add those arising from misguided zeal in it. Divisions, persecutions, etc.

II. Consider those who are not imposing on themselves by believing things to be good, which are really evil, but WHO WILFULLY AND MALICIOUSLY ENDEAVOUR TO DESTROY A TRUE BELIEF IN OTHERS, BY FALSE REPRESENTATIONS OF SIN DUTY.

1. How artfully and speciously vice is often portrayed in those numerous works which find the easiest admission to the closets of the young! Into the character of the frail and guilty is thrown a variety of qualities of seeming liberality, honour, and the like; the reader, with an ingenuous tenderness, without deliberation, pities and forgives; and begins to think the crime no indiscretion, or at least no crime at all!

2. You have witnessed the effect of similar principles conveyed, not in books, but conversation.

3. We find many a villain pouring forth his artful tale of constancy and honour, calling all good evil, and all evil good, ridiculing marriage as a useless human ceremony, decrying religion as an idle state invention, painting human nature, its passions and the indulgence of them, in every glowing colour, till he has broken a parent's heart, and brought his child to ruin in time and in eternity!

(G. Mathews, M. A.)

Nothing tends more to remove the just distinctions of virtue and vice, or to blend the nature of good and evil, than the giving plausible and specious names to what are really great and substantial crimes.

1. The boldest attacks of infidelity are often couched under the plausible name of "a spirit of free inquiry."

2. An indifference to all religious worship is often concealed under the specious term of "a truly religious spirit of universal toleration."

3. The duel is converted into an "honourable deed."

4. Shameless and lawless adultery is denominated gallantry.

5. Is not a certain profusion and expense, which causes a breach of common justice in squandering what men are not able to pay, often described as an enlarged and generous mode of living?

6. If the libertine who indulges in every sensual appetite without control, happen to possess a certain share of vivacity and good humour, or be a man of boundless profusion and indiscriminate liberality, his vices are swallowed up in the sup. posed good qualities of his heart; and the worst title perhaps that is bestowed on his worst actions, is that of a thoughtless ease and good nature, which is too apt to be led astray by the example and vices of others.

(C. Moore, M. A.)

The real horror of this passage consists in the fact that we have here one of the greatest sins that can be conceived, and, at the same time, one of the most common. To call evil good is practical atheism. To call good evil is practical blasphemy. The words of the passage supply a certain vision of the order of the process.

1. To "call evil good" is the sin especially of the young and careless — the giddy and wanton in their way.

2. The calling good evil is the sin especially of the earnest and professedly religious — whether or not their religion be of the kind called Christian. This was the great crime of the Pharisees against Christ. This has been the crime of all the persecutors of the Church of Christ from the Roman emperors to the Romish priests. Also, of many theologians of all sides in controversy; and of politicians.

3. Before our eyes the evil and the good are mingled, in characters and acts and institutions, till it is often beyond our power to extricate. And what are we to do? Let us call on the name of the Lord, confessing we are helpless often in the matter, remembering also this, that although it be in ignorance, our error may be great, like the crucifying of Christ. Let the Church be improved from within, seeking rather the resources of the heavenly grace to replenish her heart with charity — its native and original virtue. Let her turn from all the tumult without to Him who is "the glory in the midst of her." Let her learn her liberality at the feet of Jesus. For evil rolls into the light of Christ and is detected and abhorred. The good that is in evil is caught by that light and gladly hailed. The love of Christ is the best of teaching here.

(J. Cunningham, M. A.)

1. The current conventional standard of society around them is even in this Christian land the main principle by which the great mass of the better sort of people regulate their conduct. For one who refers truly to the law of God, hundreds maybe found who act upon the common maxims of society. This, therefore, it becomes us especially to bear in mind: never can we live for ourselves alone.

2. It is one especial part of their punishment who are thus engaged in lowering the moral standard of society around them, that they must be, in a still greater measure, injuring themselves. How "shall a man touch pitch and not be defiled"? We have no other way of transmitting moral evil than by contagion; we must, in the first place, be our. selves the victims of that which we convey to others.(1) There is within each of us a power or faculty by which we judge of good or evil, and which we call conscience or the moral sense. Although we cannot by a direct act of the reason alter, or at our immediate volition, silence, the decision and the voice of moral consciousness, we may, by a course of actions, altogether debase, and even for the time extinguish it.(2) It is of great moment to observe how from this it follows that there is a necessary tendency in anyone allowed form of evil to prepare the soil for receiving others.(3) After vicious practice, there is nothing of which they who would preserve their moral sense unclouded should more cautiously beware, than a needless acquaintance with sin. The first and evident form in which this danger meets us is from the company of evil men. There are some remarkable provisions by which the Christian's power of discrimination can be formed, without encouraging an evil curiosity or courting any familiarity with vice. For, first, it will grow gradually with the growth of our self-knowledge. Alas! we bear evil always with us; and if we search ourselves we must become acquainted with it. Yet even here we need a word of caution, for our very self-inspection may become the means of self-defilement. At God's call we may walk unharmed even in the fire of present sin. And here, again, we may trace the provision God has made for this security in the nature He has given us. For the feelings of grief and shame which are naturally roused by the first sight of sin, and which of themselves will die away with each repetition, if, from curiosity or the love of excitement, we call them into fruitless exercise, these, when they lead us to strive against the evil which we see, grow into a living habit of resisting sin; and this habit keeps the conscience quick and tender, and, through the blessing of God's grace, purifies and strengthens the power of moral judgment beyond all other means of wholesome exercise. Thus it is that God's especial witnesses have borne, amidst an evil generation, the burden of His holiness and truth.

(Bishop S. Wilberforce, D. D.)

Bellarmine, in his 4th Book and fifth chapter, De Pontifice Romano, has this monstrous passage: That if the Pope should through error or mistake command vices and prohibit virtues, the Church would be bound in conscience to believe vice to be good and virtue evil.

(R. South, D. D.)

A Neapolitan shepherd came in anguish to his priest, saying, "Father, have mercy on a miserable sinner. It is the holy season of Lent; and while I was busy at work, some whey spirting from the cheese press flew into my mouth, and, — wretched man! — I swallowed it. Free my distressed conscience from its agonies by absolving me from my guilt!" "Have you no other sins to confess?" said his spiritual guide. "No; I do not know that I have committed any other." "There are," said the priest, "many robberies and murders from time to time committed on your mountains, and I have reason to believe that you are one of the persons concerned in them." "Yes," he replied, "I am, but these are never accounted as a crime; it is a thing practised by us all and there needs no confession on that account."

(K. Arvine.)

It is no exaggeration to assert that Napoleon I — strangely called the Great — had no moral sense. Carlyle tells the story of a German emperor who, when corrected for a mistake he made in Latin, replied, "I am King of the Romans and above grammar!" Napoleon's arrogance was infinitely greater. He thought himself above morality and really seems to have believed that he had a perfect right to commit any crime, political or personal, that would advance his interests by an iota: and, in truth, he did commit so many it is almost impossible to recount them.

(H. O. Mackey.)

The carpenter's gimblet makes but a small hole, but it enables him to drive a great nail. May we not here see a representation of those minor departures from the truth which prepare the minds of men for grievous errors and of those thoughts of sin which open a way for the worst of crimes! Beware, then, of Satan's gimblet.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Ephah, Isaiah
Jerusalem, Mount Zion
Bitter, Change, Cursed, Dark, Darkness, Evil, Putting, Saying, Substitute, Sweet, Wo, Woe
1. Under the parable of a vineyard, God excuses his severe judgment
8. His judgments upon covetousness
11. Upon lasciviousness
13. Upon impiety
20. And upon injustice
26. The executioners of God's judgments

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Isaiah 5:20

     4811   darkness, symbol of sin
     4835   light, spiritual

Isaiah 5:8-23

     9250   woe

Isaiah 5:18-25

     4446   flowers

A Prophet's Woes
'Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may he placed alone in the midst of the earth! 9. In mine ears said the Lord of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall he desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant. 10. Yea, ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of an homer shall yield an ephah. 11. Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Holy Song from Happy Saints
"Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved."--Isaiah 5:1. IT was a prophet who wrote this, a prophet inspired of God. An ordinary believer might suffice to sing, but he counts it no stoop for a prophet, and no waste of his important time, to occupy himself with song. There is no engagement under heaven that is more exalting than praising God, and however great may be the work which is committed to the charge of any of us, we shall always do well if we pause awhile to spend a time in
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 61: 1915

The Well-Beloved's vineyard.
AN ADDRESS TO A LITTLE COMPANY OF BELIEVERS, IN MR. SPURGEON'S OWN ROOM AT MENTONE."My Well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill."--Isaiah v. 1. THE WELL-BELOVED'S VINEYARD. WE recognize at once that Jesus is here. Who but He can be meant by "My Well-beloved"? Here is a word of possession and a word of affection,--He is mine, and my Well-beloved. He is loveliness itself, the most loving and lovable of beings; and we personally love Him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength:
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

Of Confession and Self-Examination
Of Confession and Self-examination Self-examination should always precede Confession, and in the nature and manner of it should be conformable to the state of the soul: the business of those that are advanced to the degree of which we now treat, is to lay their whole souls open before God, who will not fail to enlighten them, and enable them to see the peculiar nature of their faults. This examination, however, should be peaceful and tranquil, and we should depend on God for the discovery and knowledge
Madame Guyon—A Short and Easy Method of Prayer

God's Last Arrow
'Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them.'--Mark xii. 6. Reference to Isaiah v. There are differences in detail here which need not trouble us. Isaiah's parable is a review of the theocratic history of Israel, and clearly the messengers are the prophets; here Christ speaks of Himself and His own mission to Israel, and goes on to tell of His death as already accomplished. I. The Son who follows and surpasses the servants. (a) Our Lord here places Himself in
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Dishonest Tenants
'And He began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Miracles no Remedy for Unbelief.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke Me? and how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have showed among them?"--Numbers xiv. 11. Nothing, I suppose, is more surprising to us at first reading, than the history of God's chosen people; nay, on second and third reading, and on every reading, till we learn to view it as God views it. It seems strange, indeed, to most persons, that the Israelites should have acted as they did, age after age, in
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII

The Knowledge that God Is, Combined with the Knowledge that He is to be Worshipped.
John iv. 24.--"God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." There are two common notions engraven on the hearts of all men by nature,--that God is, and that he must be worshipped, and these two live and die together, they are clear, or blotted together. According as the apprehension of God is clear, and distinct, and more deeply engraven on the soul, so is this notion of man's duty of worshipping God clear and imprinted on the soul, and whenever the actions
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Barren Fig-Tree.
"There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except
William Arnot—The Parables of Our Lord

A Sermon on a Text not Found in the Bible.
MR. JUSTICE GROVES.--"Men go into the Public-house respectable, and come out felons." My text, as you see, my dear readers, is not taken from the Bible. It does not, however, contradict the Scriptures, but is in harmony with some, such as "WOE UNTO HIM THAT GIVETH HIS NEIGHBOUR DRINK." Habakkuk ii. 15; "WOE UNTO THEM THAT RISE UP EARLY IN THE MORNING, THAT THEY MAY FOLLOW STRONG DRINK."--Isaiah v. 11. "TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES LEST AT ANY TIME YOUR HEARTS BE OVERCHARGED WITH SURFEITING AND
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread

Religion Pleasant to the Religious.
"O taste and see how gracious the Lord is; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."--Psalm xxxiv. 8. You see by these words what love Almighty God has towards us, and what claims He has upon our love. He is the Most High, and All-Holy. He inhabiteth eternity: we are but worms compared with Him. He would not be less happy though He had never created us; He would not be less happy though we were all blotted out again from creation. But He is the God of love; He brought us all into existence,
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII

"For to be Carnally Minded is Death; but to be Spiritually Minded is Life and Peace. "
Rom. viii. 6.--"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." It is true, this time is short, and so short that scarce can similitudes or comparisons be had to shadow it out unto us. It is a dream, a moment, a vapour, a flood, a flower, and whatsoever can be more fading or perishing; and therefore it is not in itself very considerable, yet in another respect it is of all things the most precious, and worthy of the deepest attention and most serious consideration;
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

a survey of the third and closing discourse of the prophet
We shall now, in conclusion, give a survey of the third and closing discourse of the prophet. After an introduction in vi. 1, 2, where the mountains serve only to give greater solemnity to the scene (in the fundamental passages Deut. xxxii. 1, and in Is. 1, 2, "heaven and earth" are mentioned for the same purposes, inasmuch as they are the most venerable parts of creation; "contend with the mountains" by taking them in and applying to [Pg 522] them as hearers), the prophet reminds the people of
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Eleventh Day. The Holy one of Israel.
I am the Lord that brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. I the Lord which make you holy, am holy.'--Lev. xi. 45, xxi. 8. 'I am the Lord Thy God, the Holy One of Israel, Thy Saviour. Thus saith the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.'--Isa. xliii. 3, 14, 15. In the book of Exodus we found God making provision for the Holiness of His people. In the holy
Andrew Murray—Holy in Christ

The Harbinger
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD , make straight in the desert a high-way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. T he general style of the prophecies is poetical. The inimitable simplicity which characterizes every
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Letter Xlviii to Magister Walter De Chaumont.
To Magister [75] Walter de Chaumont. He exhorts him to flee from the world, advising him to prefer the cause and the interests of his soul to those of parents. MY DEAR WALTER, I often grieve my heart about you whenever the most pleasant remembrance of you comes back to me, seeing how you consume in vain occupations the flower of your youth, the sharpness of your intellect, the store of your learning and skill, and also, what is more excellent in a Christian than all of these gifts, the pure and innocent
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

In Reply to the Questions as to his Authority, Jesus Gives the Third Great Group of Parables.
(in the Court of the Temple. Tuesday, April 4, a.d. 30.) Subdivision C. Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. ^A Matt. XXI. 33-46; ^B Mark XII. 1-12; ^C Luke XX. 9-19. ^b 1 And he began to speak unto them ^c the people [not the rulers] ^b in parables. { ^c this parable:} ^a 33 Hear another parable: There was a man that was a householder [this party represents God], who planted a vineyard [this represents the Hebrew nationality], and set a hedge about it, and digged a ^b pit for the ^a winepress in it
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Third Day in Pasion-Week - the Last Series of Parables: to the Pharisees and to the People - on the Way to Jerusalem: the Parable
(ST. Matt. xix. 30, xx. 16; St. Matt. xxi. 28-32; St. Mark xii. 1-12; St. Luke xx. 9-19; St. Matt. xxii. 1-14.) ALTHOUGH it may not be possible to mark their exact succession, it will be convenient here to group together the last series of Parables. Most, if not all of them, were spoken on that third day in Passion week: the first four to a more general audience; the last three (to be treated in another chapter) to the disciples, when, on the evening of that third day, on the Mount of Olives, [5286]
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Of Orders.
Of this sacrament the Church of Christ knows nothing; it was invented by the church of the Pope. It not only has no promise of grace, anywhere declared, but not a word is said about it in the whole of the New Testament. Now it is ridiculous to set up as a sacrament of God that which can nowhere be proved to have been instituted by God. Not that I consider that a rite practised for so many ages is to be condemned; but I would not have human inventions established in sacred things, nor should it be
Martin Luther—First Principles of the Reformation

And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah
"And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto Me (one) [Pg 480] to be Ruler in Israel; and His goings forth are the times of old, the days of eternity." The close connection of this verse with what immediately precedes (Caspari is wrong in considering iv. 9-14 as an episode) is evident, not only from the [Hebrew: v] copulative, and from the analogy of the near relation of the announcement of salvation to the prophecy of disaster
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

An Analysis of Augustin's Writings against the Donatists.
The object of this chapter is to present a rudimentary outline and summary of all that Augustin penned or spoke against those traditional North African Christians whom he was pleased to regard as schismatics. It will be arranged, so far as may be, in chronological order, following the dates suggested by the Benedictine edition. The necessary brevity precludes anything but a very meagre treatment of so considerable a theme. The writer takes no responsibility for the ecclesiological tenets of the
St. Augustine—writings in connection with the donatist controversy.

The Gateway into the Kingdom.
"Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John iii. 3.) There is no portion of the Word of God, perhaps, with which we are more familiar than this passage. I suppose if I were to ask those in any audience if they believed that Jesus Christ taught the doctrine of the New Birth, nine tenths of them would say: "Yes, I believe He did." Now if the words of this text are true they embody one of the most solemn questions that can come before us. We can afford to be deceived about
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It

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