Isaiah 55:8
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.
Sermons
A Free SalvationIsaiah 55:1-13
A Gracious InvitationJ. Parsons.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buy and EatJ. Trapp.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buyers Will Show that They PossessW. Cleaves, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buying of ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Buying Without MoneyIsaiah 55:1-13
Christ's Gracious TermsO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
ComeJ. Trapp.Isaiah 55:1-13
Come to the WatersJ. Trapp.Isaiah 55:1-13
Come! Come!T. De Flirt Talmage, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Driving a Trade with ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Food a Supreme NeedSunday School ChronicleIsaiah 55:1-13
God Eager for SinnersIsaiah 55:1-13
Gospel Blessings to be BoughtW. Cleaves, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Gospel Invitation Without RestrictionJ. R. Macduff, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Invitation; Expostulation; EntreatyO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Man's Misery and God's CallG.A. Chadwick, D.D.Isaiah 55:1-13
No Coinage Can Buy Spiritual GoodA. Maclaran, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Soul ThirstHomilistIsaiah 55:1-13
Spiritual MerchandiseO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Spiritual ThirstO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Benefit of Trading with ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Best BargainMonthly Visitor.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Cries of the Water-CarriersF. Sessions.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Desire to Bring Something to ChristIsaiah 55:1-13
The Fulness of Christ Offered to the Needy SinnerO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Gospel First Addressed to Human NecessityJ. Parker, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Gracious InvitationT. D. Witherspoon, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Great ProclamationA. Mallard, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Jews in Exile Prosperous Yet ThirstingJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Proclamation and Expostulation of MercyJ. S. Swan.Isaiah 55:1-13
The Spiritual Appetite and its GratificationLira of FaithIsaiah 55:1-13
The True ImperialismJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Too Valuable to be BoughtChristian Budget.Isaiah 55:1-13
True Satisfaction in ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Trying to Buy SalvationChristian Budget.Isaiah 55:1-13
Water for the ThirstyO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Water, Wine and MilkF. Delitzsch, D. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Willingness to Buy of ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Wine and MilkR. Jones, M. A.Isaiah 55:1-13
Without Money and Without PriceIsaiah 55:1-13
Without Money and Without PriceO. Sedgwick, B. D.Isaiah 55:1-13
Without Money and Without PriceChristian Budget.Isaiah 55:1-13
A Fatal DelusionAnon.Isaiah 55:6-9
Abundant PardonPrincipal Morison, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
Call Ye Upon Him While He is NearChristian AgeIsaiah 55:6-9
Delay Inseeking GodGregory.Isaiah 55:6-9
Duty and PrivilegePrincipal Morison, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
God Unknown, Yet KnownS. Cox, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
Importance of Seeking God At the Present MomentW. Jay.Isaiah 55:6-9
Missing the TideIsaiah 55:6-9
No DelayIsaiah 55:6-9
OpportunityW. Jay.Isaiah 55:6-9
OpportunityD. L. Moody.Isaiah 55:6-9
Scripture Blessings ConditionalJ. Parker, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
Seeking LordF. G. Davis.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Best Time to Seek the LordE. D. Solomon.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Delay of ConversionJ. Saurin.Isaiah 55:6-9
The God-Seeking Work, and God-Seeking SeasonW. Jones., A. Farindon, B. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Incredible Mercy of GodS. Cox, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Lord to be SoughtD. L. Moody.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Lost LordAlex. Warrack, M. A.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Lost LordW. Hoyt, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Merciful God Near, Yet UnrecognizedJ. R. Miller, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
The Peril of NeglectIsaiah 55:6-9
The Present All-ImportantSunday School ChronicleIsaiah 55:6-9
The Times and Places for Seeking GodJ. Cumming, D. D.Isaiah 55:6-9
Exhortations and AssuranceE. Johnson Isaiah 55:6-13
Abundant PardonIsaiah 55:7-9
An Offer of MercyT. Horton, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
ConversionJ. Mode.Isaiah 55:7-9
Divine Counsels to the WickedS. Martin.Isaiah 55:7-9
Free PardonG. Campbell Morgan, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
From Desert to GardenG. C. Morgan, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
God's Ways and Man's WaysJ. Caird, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
Mohammedism or Christi-UnityD. L. Moody.Isaiah 55:7-9
Pardon for the PenitentD. Rees.Isaiah 55:7-9
Pardoning Mercy AbundantN. W. Taylor, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
Refuge in God'sJ. R. Miller, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
RepentanceF. Delitzsch, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
RepentanceJ. Taylor, LL. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
The Moral Disparity Between Man's Thoughts and WaysHomilistIsaiah 55:7-9
The Need and Nature of ConversionIsaiah 55:7-9
The Surrender of the ThoughtsD. L. Moody.Isaiah 55:7-9
The Way of Return to God and its EncouragementsC. Short, M. A., R. Macculloch.Isaiah 55:7-9
The Way to PardonHomiletic ReviewIsaiah 55:7-9
Unrighteous ThoughtsT. Horton, D. D.Isaiah 55:7-9
Disparity of Thoughts, Divine and HumanW. Adamson, D. D.Isaiah 55:8-9
God a ThinkerS. Herren.Isaiah 55:8-9
God Forgiving SinIsaiah 55:8-9
God is Like Yet Unlike ManR. Tuck Isaiah 55:8, 9
God's Long-Suffering Surpasses Man'sIsaiah 55:8-9
God's ThoughtsMonday Club SermonsIsaiah 55:8-9
God's ThoughtsC. Wadsworth.Isaiah 55:8-9
God's ThoughtsHomilistIsaiah 55:8-9
God's Thoughts and WaysT. Raffles, D. D.Isaiah 55:8-9
God's Thoughts and Ways Far Above OursIsaiah 55:8-9
God's Thoughts Higher than Man'sIsaiah 55:8-9
God's Ways and Man'sA. Maclaren, D. D.Isaiah 55:8-9
God's Ways and Man's WaysJ. W. Reeve, M. A.Isaiah 55:8-9
Man, Like God, a ThinkerIsaiah 55:8-9
Man's Thoughts and God's ThoughtsIsaiah 55:8-9
Sovereign ThoughtsT. Davies, M. A.Isaiah 55:8-9
The Great ContrastT. R. Stevenson.Isaiah 55:8-9
The Greatness of GodS. Horton.Isaiah 55:8-9
The Human and the DivineW. Clarkson Isaiah 55:8, 9
The Incomprehensibility of the Mercy of GodJ. Saurin.Isaiah 55:8-9
The Mystery and the Glory of RedemptionJ. Cairns, D. D.Isaiah 55:8-9
The Thoughts of GodF. B. Meyer, B. A.Isaiah 55:8-9


Man was made in the image of God, and once bore his likeness; then his spirit was like that of the Spirit of God. Under the debasing influences of sin he has become utterly unlike his Maker, and, instead of being compared with him, he is placed in sad and painful contrast with his heavenly Father. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," etc.

I. THE SPIRIT OF THE HUMAN.

1. The spirit of man is selfish. Not that he is incapable of generosity, but the prevailing and penetrating spirit which runs through his acts and his institutions is that of self-love, self-interest. What will it profit me? What shall I gain by it? How will it affect my interests? These are the questions which come up from the depths of the human heart, and are perpetually recurring.

2. The spirit of man. is vindictive. Men hate their enemies; they wish ill to those who have in any way done them an injury. Men are secretly if not openly glad when any harm happens to those who have successfully opposed them, or to those who have outstripped them in the race, or to those whose material interests clash with theirs, or to those who have rebuked and shamed them, or to those whom they have wronged and thus made their enemies. Their thoughts are vindictive and malignant, and their ways answer to their thoughts. By pronounced hostility, or by artful intrigue, or by a criminal silence and inaction, they further the end for which they look, - the discomfiture of their fellows.

II. THE SPIRIT OF THE DIVINE.

1. The Spirit of God is beneficent. God lives to bless - to communicate life, love, beauty, joy, throughout his universe. That Son of man who "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister" perfectly represented the Spirit of the Father, who occupies his eternity and expends his omniscience in doing good to all his creation.

2. The Spirit of God is magnanimous. God delights not to give pain or to send sorrow to those who have offended him; that is his "strange work." He delights to pardon. He "abundantly pardons." He receives back and reinstates his penitent children with abounding joy. His mercy, his grace, is inexhaustible ? it is an overarching sky with no horizon-line; it is a sea without a bottom or a shore.

III. THE DIVINE OFFER. So great, so surpassing, so all-sufficient, is the magnanimity of God that we may east ourselves on his mercy with the utmost confidence. "Iniquities may prevail against us," but the pardoning grace of God will prevail against them.

IV. THE HUMAN ASPIRATION. Jesus Christ summons us to rise from the level of the human to the height of the Divine; to breathe his spirit of forgiveness, to live his life of love, to move on the noble and lofty plane of a sustained magnanimity, "that we may be the children of our Father who is in heaven;" that we may "be perfect as he is perfect." - C.









For My thoughts are not your thoughts.
Monday Club Sermons.
The thought of God! Who can fathom it? Astronomers tell us of stars in the sky at such infinite distances that their light, shooting through space at the inconceivable rate of 185,000 miles a second, would require 3,500 years to reach this earth. And vet God's thought placed them thus far away in space, arranged the laws that govern them, not unlikely has set whirling around them planets like our. own, peopled with sentiment and responsible beings like ourselves. To such distance reach the thoughts of God with the same clearness and wisdom as on this little globe. Shall not these thoughts, piercing the sublime avenues of infinite space, find a way whereby we may be saved?

(Monday Club Sermons.)

We can form some conception of them through the works of His hand, whether in nature, providence, or redemption. The psalmist describes them as permanent in their endurance; as surpassing the reckoning of human arithmetic; and as being a fathomless deep. It is told of Kepler that, one night, after hours spent in observing the motions of the heavenly bodies, he exclaimed, "I have been thinking over again the earliest thoughts of God." But there are earlier thoughts than those impresssd on nature. The love that led to the choice of man in Christ, and will culminate in the glory, is older far.

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

"I think, therefore I am, was the formula in which the great mind of Descartes found peace. We may reverently adapt it, and say, "God thinks, therefore God is;" and the proof that He thinks is the great universe around us bearing, everywhere the marks of a designing hand. The quality of any mind is determined by its product. The rare quality of the mind of Shakespeare found expression in "Hamlet" and "Macbeth," that of Milton in "Paradise Lost," and that of Tennyson in the "Idylls of the King." Stephenson demonstrated the wonderful mechanical power of his brain in the production of the steam engine, and Edison has shown what he thinks by inventing the telephone and phonograph. You stand and gaze with reverential awe at St. Paul's, with its lofty dome, its magnificent portico, its beautiful windows. What is it? A church. Yes, a church in the heart of the busiest city in the world; a constant witness to the hurrying, bargain-making crowd, that man does not live by bread alone. It is a fine building — a veritable poem in stone — begrimed by the smutty fingers of old Father Time, but strangely weird and solemn, as I have seen it bathed in the moonlight, with the mighty city sleeping around it, silent and still, or at least as still as London ever is. It is one of the peep-holes through which London gets a view of Heaven. But it is something more. It is the visualized thought of a great man; mute witness to the fact that mind is the great thing in the world. Sir Christopher Wren thought cathedrals, they were on his brain, he saw them before a single stone was laid, and then he selected one and put it on paper and said to the builder, "Now go to work. Put this thought of mine in stone, and let it stand there in the midst of the city; so that all men may see the kind of thing my brain is capable of producing. So this world, so full of wondrous forms and lovely colours, is but the outward expression of the thought of God.

(S. Herren.)

1. The power of thought is one point in which man is made in the image of God. Other animated creatures which are put in subjection to the thinking, intelligent creature man, have no fellowship with God in thought; into His world of pure spirit they cannot enter. When men do not think, and especially when they do not think of the highest and most important matters, they degrade themselves from the true position and occupation of immortal minds.

2. In the text we have two persons thinking; and as the result — man's thoughts and God's thoughts. God's thinkings are declared by Himself to be exceedingly above man s, and yet if ever man is to dwell with God, he must think as God thinks. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" What, then, can I do to rise to Him? Think as much as I please, thinking only sets me on my feet, and so far does me service, but it still leaves me on the earth, and God is yonder far above me, and my thoughts can no more attain unto Him than an infant can touch the stars with his finger. Still it is a comfort to me if I am sincerely thoughtful after God, that He is thinking about me, for if my thoughts cannot bear me up to Him, His thoughts can bring Him down to me, and when He has established a connection between the heaven which is above me and the. earth which is beneath Himself, then I, laying hold on His thoughts, and believing what He has thought out for his, shall be drawn up to His elevation, and I shall come to think His thoughts, and so to be in communion with the Most High.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

At first, men have very low ideas of sin. But when the Holy Spirit begins to deal with them, sin grows to be an intolerable burden, a fearsome thing. While the thought of sin becomes clear, the thought of pardon is not, at first, so clear. Sin is great, and for that reason the sinner thinks it cannot be pardoned, as if he measured the Lord by his sin. In our text God in condescension helps the sinner to believe in pardon by elevating his idea of God. Because God is infinitely superior to man, He can abundantly pardon.

I. YOUR OWN THOUGHTS JUDGE PARDON TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

1. To some it seems impossible that there can be forgiveness for them, because of some special, secret, gross, and grievous sin. Most persons, when they remember their past lives, seen certain spot blacker than the rest.

2. To others the difficulty of pardon seems to lie not so much in some special offence, as in the number of their sins, and the long continuance of them.

3. Others have been grievously oppressed with the idea that they could not be pardoned because of the wilfulness of what they have done. Certainly, this is a very grievous evil. Wilfulness is the very damnableness of sin.

4. "Sir, says one, "I sinned with a great falseness and treachery of heart; for I was baptized and joined a Church."

5. I hear one say, "There is" about my, sin this peculiar heinousness, that,, I have injured myself and others by my sin."

6. Perhaps one may even say, But, sir, my sin was of this kind, that I dishonoured God: I denied the Deity of Christ."

II. GOD'S THOUGHTS OF OTHER THINGS ARE FAR ABOVE YOURS. It is quite certain that the best thoughts — the most logical thoughts, the most original thoughts, the most correct thoughts you have ever had — are not worthy to be compared with God's thoughts. Look in nature. The things you see in nature were, at first, thoughts in God's mind, and He embodied them. Did you ever think such thoughts as God has thought in creation? God's thoughts in providence — how wonderfully they are above ours I You read history, and everything seems to be a tangle. Yet, before you have read through the chapter, you see in it all a plan and a method. It has ever been so in your own mind as to the future. Read the prophecies, and see what is yet to be.

III. HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT PARDON ARE ABOVE YOURS.

1. Are you not slow to forgive? "He delighteth in mercy."

2. You come to an end of your forgiveness before long. But God goes on to seventy times seventy times — on, and on, and on, and never comes to the end of pardoning mercy so long as a soul cries to Him for forgiveness.

3. Some things you find it hard to forgive. God does far more in the way of pardon than we ask or even think.

4. I am afraid I must say of some of you that you forgive, but you do not forget. God promises to forget our iniquities. "I will cast all their sins behind My back." "I will cast their iniquities into the depths of the sea. They shall not be remembered against them any more for ever."

5. We forgive, and yet feel some returns of anger. "I have blotted out," says He, "thy transgressions." Once blotted out, they arc done with for ever.

6. I do not slander you when I say that you are not very eager to pardon, and proposes to make peace with him.

7. Do you think that any of us would suffer much for the sake of being able to forgive another? Should there be a very serious difficulty in the way, so that you cannot rightly forgive without some atonement being made, would you make the atonement yourself?

IV. GODS THOUGHTS ARE ABOVE YOURS IN ALL THINGS WHICH CONCERN HIS GRACE. See the first verse as to the freeness of His grace. Your thought is that you can get nothing without paying for: God's thoughts are, "Come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. But you think that if God were to save you He would perform it in a second-rate style. Not He! He will have no miser salvations. If He supplies His people, it shall be most richly and freely. Listen to this. "Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. It is not amp of the water, or a ernst of the bread, or a drop of the milk; but when Christ invites poor sinners to come, He invites them to a high festival. You that are the guiltiest may come to Christ, and be among the happiest and the best of His saints. Nobody would ever imagine that a sinner could ever enter into covenant with God — that God should strike hands with guilty men, and, pledge Himself to grace. Listen to this: "Incline your ear, and come unto Me, etc. (ver. 3). I remember a man, shut up in prison, under a long sentence, and he was so violent that he was put into a solitary cell. The chaplain had done all he could as to bringing him to repentance; but one day he read to him this verse, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you." The man said, "I never heard of such a thing. Can God make a covenant with such a wretch as I am? Sir," said he, "it will break my heart;" and it did break his heart and he became a new man in Christ Jesus under the power of that amazing thought, that God would enter into covenant with such a wretch as he was. In ver. 5 Christ is said to call a people so ignorant that they did not know Him. This is to be His glory, that He is to call them by His grace. It is not one of your thoughts, but one of the thoughts of God, that He will glorify Christ in the saving of great sinners. "Ah, well!" says one, "I will go home, and cry to God for mercy. That is your thought. Listen to God's thought. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." Ah! still you think, "How can I be pardoned?" Listen to this, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts," etc. Read the rest of the chapter, and say to yourself, over each verse, "This was not my thought; this, was not my way." End all your doubts with the last verse," instead of the thorn, etc.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Until we believe in the greatness of God, not only in action, but in thought, we shall misunderstand our Bibles, the world in which we live, and ourselves. We use such words as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, infinite, but how little we grasp their meaning! They are but the poor, etymological husks in which we try to thrust that which no words can express. There are some things that you cannot describe,, you can only feel. Language is too poor, too clumsy a medium to express God's best, or biggest things, much less to describe Him. It is like the colours with which the artist tries to reproduce the glory of a sunset. It is not a reproduction; at best, it is but a far-off resemblance. You look up on a cloudless day and there is not one speck, not one bit of white cloud against the vast expanse of undimmed azure, and yet feel, but cannot describe the infinity of space. Let that feeling of infiniteness rest upon you, soak into your mind, for it is good for man, the creature of a day, the heir of eternity, to linger amongst great expanses, and to learn that his geography is but a petty science, and his astronomy, with its measurements of millions of miles, does but nibble at the edge of the great universe of God. Thus you will preserve a reverent spirit, keep alive the faculties of wonder and admiration, and it is to be hoped be saved from the positive assertion of little narrow dogmas which have been adopted by certain sections of the Church, and declared with as much assurance, and fought for with as much bitterness as though an angel from heaven had proclaimed them every morning since the creation.

(S. Horton.)

Theology ought to be the science of God and Divine things. Often it is systematized misrepresentations of Divine things. It is not the revelation of God's greatness, but of man's littleness; it starts with theories, instead of facts. Our text is God's appeal against human misrepresentation. There is always a danger of putting our own limitations of thoughts and speech upon the Almighty, and of making our thinking and doing the measure of His. Have we not all met with the man who sees nothing in the Church but bricks and timber, in its devotions only so many needful exercises to be got through as speedily as possible, and in the great redemption plain nothing but convenient fire escape from the miseries of hell, and in God only a High Commissioner of Police? It is Vastly important that, as far as it is possible, we should get right ideas of God, for our whole character and conduct will he coloured by our thoughts of Him. And though it must ever be that our thoughts are as much beneath His thoughts as the earth is beneath the heavens, yet if He reveal Himself to us, as He is always willing to do to the humble soul, we shall at least be saved from rhea. mental caricatures of Him that have darkened many a life, and been the fruitful soil in which unbelief has found its foothold.

1. The setting of the text takes us at once to the central doctrine of the Christian faith. The verse before it proclaims the pardon of God for the sinner, who, repenting of his sins, returns to the Lord. How can a sinless God forgive a sinful man, and yet maintain the majesty of His own law? And there rises before our eyes at once the form of a cross, and on it One, who, struggling in the death agony, exclaims, "It is finished." All the wonder and mystery of the ages gathers round that cross. If you can explain that you can explain all. Was it possible for sin to take upon itself a deeper shade of guilt than the sin of the people of Judah in Isaiah's time? Crimson-hued and scarlet-dyed, what could even God do with such sinners as these? Sweep them away with the strength of His right arm. Yea, and all heaven and all earth would approve the justice of the sentence. But He can do something else. He can forgive them. At first we revolt at the very idea. Forgiveness for them! And then once more we hear the voice which says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways." "I will never forgive him" is the language of the man who has been wronged. But God says, "I will give My best and dearest if I may but win the wrong-doer to love that which is good. I will save him by showing him what love can do." Do you know it is the hardest thing in the world to persuade men to believe that God loves them with a love like that? There is a good deal of truth in the sarcasm of a scoffing French writer "that man has made God in his own image."

2. Let us apply our text to the many problems that gather round our life, to those many difficulties behind which as yet we can see no meaning. Life for many is a prolonged agony. It is a burden, a pain, a puzzle to which we have not yet the key. Behind the pain, and the tears, and the smart, God is, and His plan for us is the best possible plan. He is but a poor shallow fool who says, I will accept nothing that I cannot understand. As a matter of fact he is always accepting what he does not understand. Does he understand sleep? Does he understand Why a seed grows? why a child thinks? why men die? And yet there are many men who reject the idea of a personal God because they cannot understand His works and ways. They declare life to be without purpose, and an aimless consciousness between two eternities. To all such our text is a rebuke. Faith is a bird of stronger wing than reason. Two texts are sufficient for me. Upon them I stake all for time. and for eternity. "God is very great." "God is love." has put our belief once and for all into a convenient formula, "What God is I know not; what He is not I know." God is not, cannot be cruel. God is not, cannot be pitiless. God is not, cannot be making useless experiments at our expense. Without that faith, how could we face the hopeless poverty, the misery of our slums? Oh! wearied heart, rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. When faith falters, when the sun goes out in darkness, when the storm beats loud and fierce, when over a coffin-lid hope drops its head and weeps, wait for God. Give Him time to discover Himself. It is at the midnight hour that Christ walks on the tempest-lashed sea. Hush all your questionings and wait; simply wait. Is that easy? No; it is the hardest thing of all to do; but wait, only wait. What we cannot know — what it would not be wise for us to know now — we shall know hereafter.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. SPECIFY SOME INSTANCES IN WHICH THIS DECLARATION IS STRIKINGLY ILLUSTRATED.

1. In His production of the most stupendous results from insignificant causes. Nature abounds with illustrations. Providence is still more abundant. Consequences the most stupendous, involving the destinies of individuals, of families, of empires, have arisen out of causes which we deem insignificant. But the most abundant proofs are derived from the history of the Gospel. Our Lord has suggested this view of the subject in His own illustrations — "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard-seed," and so on. And this is an illustration of the rise and progress of Messiah's Gospel. Who, and what was the Founder of the Gospel — as to His human appearance?

2. In the accomplishment of the most glorious designs by the weakest and most insignificant instruments. Who were the first propagators of the Gospel? In what school were they educated? With what armour did they go forth to the war?

3. In the sovereign exercises of His grace, in connection with its freedom and fulness.

II. ASSIGN SOME REASONS FOR THIS.

1. His knowledge is more extensive than our information.

2. His judgment is more accurate than our decisions.

3. His purposes and plans are uninfluenced by our prejudices and passions.

4. It is His determination to humble pride, and His fixed resolution that no creature should glory in His presence.

III. LEARN LESSONS OF HUMILITY, GRATITUDE, AND CONFIDENCE.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

The word "thought" is used here objectively. It expresses a result and not a process.

I. ILLUSTRATION. Here we need only contrast the human with the Divine style of thinking. Observe some particulars: —

1. Creation. The visible creation that surrounds us on every side and spreads away into immensity beyond us, is only an embodied thought of the infinite, uncreated Intelligence. Tell me if it be at all like one of man's thoughts. Equip man with omnipotence, and set him to create a universe — and would it resemble the universe as it is? By no means!(1) Man's universe would be absolutely consolidated. Into one immense continent would all these world-islands be cast, and all tribes and types of life inhabit it as a common dwelling! His agonizing regret this day is that he cannot fling the line of a mighty telegraph from star to star, and thus, even in face of the immutable ordinances of heaven, gather these isolated islands of life into one vast virtual consolidation!(2) A universe projected by man would be motionless and steadfast. We build our homes, not on the waters, that they may be locomotive, but on the shore, that they may be fixed. But God's universe is in everlasting motion. Or, descending from the survey of a universe of worlds to consider the economy of a single world, even with greater force shall we feel the same truth. Such a world as this no wise man would have created. He would have filled up the ocean with plough-ground, and sloped the mountains gently for vineyards, and covered with rich verdure the sands of the wilderness. And the waters would have brought forth after their kind only beautiful things, and every creature moving in the forests would have been musical and fair; and the sky would have been without cloud on its rich blue, and the year without winter or storm in its long summer of loveliness.

2. Providence. And whether we regard the entire economy of providence as a stupendous whole, or each successive development in its separation, the same truth will be manifest. Man certainly would have ordered the whole thing differently. Instead of those mysterious periods of slowly ascending, he would have rounded earth into beauty at first as a home for immortals, and breathed Divine life into man made in God's image. Place at the head of human affairs an omnipotent philanthropist, and how soon would every dark thing be swept from a groaning creation. How the captive would leap from his chain, and the conqueror lay off his mail, and the cries of violence cease, and the rod of the oppressor be broken! How these dark places of cruelty would be irradiated with heavenly light, and Christianity, borne as on angel-wings, circle the round world!

II. APPLICATION.

1. Our first remark is addressed to this very class who reject the Bible because to their finitude it seems either unwise or incomprehensible. The poor erring creature of an hour, who cannot build a hovel that will not leak, nor weave a perfect garment to cover him, he — wonderful man that he is — would lift his thoughts into brotherhood with God's thoughts, and adjust the complicate sublimities of revelation by the square and the line of his insignificant faculties! Why, the sceptic should begin further back and earlier with his scepticism, as his arguments lie as strongly against creation and providence.

2. Within our own time a new philosophy hath invaded the Church of Christ, with its watchwords "spiritual insight," and "the moral reason,' and "intuitional capacity," setting itself to overthrow the indispensable condition .of all true piety — the entire, unquestioning, adoring submission alike of life, and conscience, and intellect unto God. And while the Church receives not this philosophy formally — for this were openly to deny the faith — yet, under its insidious and malign influence, there has come to pass a setting up within Zion of our own intellectual and moral judgments as critic and arbiter of the great doctrines of revelation. Doctrines that are profound or mysterious, if not openly rejected, are at least modified to square with our philosophy. And the positive declarations of God are lowered to the comprehension of our natural reason. We are as yet learners in God's school-room, not advisers in His council-chamber! We shall understand things better by and by, when eternity flings its full light on the page of our scholarship! But until then humility is the apt temper of a learner. And faith, not comprehension, the great law of the scholarship! Till then ours must be the submission of an infantile mind to an infinite Intelligence — the trust of a short-sighted child in an all-seeing Father.

3. But the thought under consideration applies as well to the phenomena of Christianity as to its facts. Take, for example, its gradual increase and development. The characteristic of the age is impatience of anything but a demonstrative and headlong progress. Tell me where, either in creation or providence, God thus hurries to conclusions? So far from discouragements in this slow progress of Christianity, we have therein only fuller proof of its Divine orion, nobler prophecy of its ultimate consummation.

4. There is a still more consoling application of this truth to things unseen and eternal — immortality. The grand characteristic and charm of the eternal world is its utter unlikeness to the temporal and earthly.

(C. Wadsworth.)

There is nothing, perhaps, in which God's thoughts and ways are more. seen to be "higher" than man's than in the matter of salvation; and it is in renouncing his own ways, and yielding to God's, that the main difficulty of salvation on man's part lies. Because there is nothing more simple than the plan of salvation — substitution.

I. God's thoughts are not as our thoughts IN THE MATTER OF PARDON. This is proclaimed freely, without any condition on man's part in the way of satisfaction to God's holy and broken law. Salvation is represented in Scripture as something which God Himself has achieved. God has "delivered man from going down into the pit; He has found a ransom;" and therefore, in every point of view, this salvation is perfect and complete. It is, further, proclaimed to sinners as a gift which they cannot earn or deserve, but which they are entreated to accent as a gift on account of what Christ has done (Romans 15:23). Men are called on to believe it instantly, to receive it and enjoy it at once, as the gift of God's love in Christ Jesus. Now, to this the world objects, because such a plan of salvation knocks down man's pride, and leaves him in the position of a rebellious sinner dependent wholly on God's grace and mercy. To escape, therefore, from such an ignominious admission, some go on to argue that by this view God's law is dishonoured, sin is treated as if of no consequence, and the pardoned sinner is left without any obligation to obey God. But is this true?

II. Gods "thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways," IN. THE. WAY IN WHICH PEACE AND JOY FOLLOW ON BELIEVING THE GOSPEL. This is proclaimed in Scripture as instant (Romans 5:1). But the world objects to this, and calls it presumption; and if they hear of a notorious sinner being converted, and entering into peace, they immediately set him down as a hypocrite. The question is not whether they are hypocrites, but whether a man who believes the Gospel, and is full of joy and peace in consequence, is a hypocrite. Whatever the world says on the subject, Scripture does not so represent him. We must take care and not conclude that where there is no peace there is no faith. This would be as wrong as to conclude that where there is not perfect health there is no life.

III. There is still another point in which "God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways," namely, HIS LONGSUFFERING. In preaching, I have no limit to make in the Gospel. If you say, "This surely is abusing the goodness of God," I reply, "God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways."

(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)

Homilist.
The very act of thinking implies imperfection. But it is a way of picturing the Divine nature by a comparison with man. Man thinks, reasons, and so arrives at certain results. These he calls thoughts or conclusions. It is not so with God. He has no need to arrive at conclusions by any mental process. He knows everything. It is difficult to find any English word wherewith to express the idea intended. The word "feelings might partly do so — method of action as the result of "feelings" — "dealings." It is really the whole of the Divine nature. "My nature is not as your nature, nor My ways of action as your ways of action." The grand idea is a consciousness of the vast difference which exists between ourselves and God, and to certain practical inferences to be devolved therefrom. These are —

I. THAT WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE OF GOD BY OUR OWN FEELINGS. How can we for one moment put ourselves in the place of the great and mighty King of kings

1. Consider our ignorance compared with His perfect knowledge — our weakness corn. pared with His almighty power — our short life compared with His eternity of existence, All these things point out the folly of setting ourselves to judge of the Divine acts or the Divine method of providence, by the methods which we would pursue. And yet people say, or think if they do not say, in so many words, that they could carry on the world far more wisely than God.

2. Consider our sin in comparison with God's holiness. Sin prevents all feeling, all right, all truth. It has changed all men's views with respect to propriety or justice. And yet there are men who would dispute the justice of the Almighty's dealings with men.

II. THAT WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE OF OUR OWN POSITION BY OUR OWN THOUGHTS. The ways of every man are right in his own eyes. We think we are acting for the best when we are acting for the worst. We think we arc serving God when we are bribing the devil. We think we are setting an example of all virtue to our neighbours, when all the while we are nought but hypocrites. We are not to judge of our position of holiness by our own thoughts. What a criteria of judgment are human thoughts! They go astray from the beginning, they are altogether depraved. How can we estimate our own advancement by them? Woe be to those who do, for they will only court destruction. Our thoughts are not God's thoughts. Some are nearer the kingdom of heaven than they suppose, while others are further off.

III. THAT WE ARE NOT TO JUDGE OF ANY OF THE MYSTERIES OF THE FUTURE BY OUR OWN THOUGHTS. The world has a way of either perverting revelation, or inventing new theories from its own imagination.

(Homilist.)

I. GOD AND MAN DIFFER IN THEIR THOUGHTS REGARDING LIFE — the meaning of our present existence, as we live in this world day by day. Man's general conception is that he has been sent into this world endowed with certain powers of body and mind that he may get on, and rise commercially, socially, and in those things which are hemmed in by things seen and temporal. As men are thus employed God looks down upon them with the tender eye of a mother and the pitying heart of a father, and says to His erring children, "Why do ye spend your time and destroy your immortal powers in such a vain pursuit? You have mistaken the meaning of your present life, and the reason I sent you into the world. My thoughts concerning it are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways. Your life was given that you might grow in wisdom, experience, and Divine likeness in character, and the earth is a school in which you are to be trained, educated for highest worship and noblest service."

II. GOD AND MAN DIFFER IN THEIR THOUGHTS REGARDING DIFFICULTIES AND SORROWS. The human and natural way of looking at these things is to view them as unmitigated evils, and that either God knows and cares nothing about those who endure them, or that they are manifestations of His ill-will and judicial anger. These are not the thoughts of God. As seen in the light of heaven they are either the result of the violation of the law of love, of selfishness and sin, or are educative agencies to make the soul strong, tender, and true.

III. GOD AND MAN DIFFER IN THEIR THOUGHTS REGARDING THE TREATMENT OF ENEMIES. Hatred has been met by hatred; scorn has been answered by scorn; and for evil rendered evil has been repaid in full measure, pressed down and running over. Far otherwise has it been with God. Regarding treatment of enemies, God says, My thoughts, are. not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways. Ye would render evil for evil, hate for hate, blow for blow. I love Mine enemies, I seek to bless the greatest sinner, I cause My sun to shine on the unjust, and unthankful, and am ready to take all prodigals into My forgiving embrace.' This has been God's action from the first man till now.

IV. GOD AND MAN DIFFER IN THEIR THOUGHTS REGARDING DEATH. Men's thoughts on the matter are full of sadness, and they beget a melancholy most difficult to bear. But God understands life and He understands death, and if we are filled with His thoughts and walk in His ways, the supposed enemy that seems to be a fiend and the destroyer of our existence shall appear in the glorious position of being the condition of a higher, purer, fuller life, that shall never cease to be, and like the echoes of the soul "shall grow for ever and for ever.'

(W. Adamson, D. D.)

The whole Bible is but an expansion of one utterance of the Eternal, "I am Jehovah." Hence the revelation must be incomplete, for a God who could fully reveal Himself to His creatures would be no God; and it must also be astonishing and amazing, for a professed record of any part of God's thoughts and ways that did not land in mystery and tend to wonder, would be self-condemned, and proved to be neither true nor Divine.

I. God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts, in regard to THE NEED OF REDEMPTION. The lessons of Scripture, while leaving the entrance of evil in its awful mystery, assist our faith by showing that our misgivings in regard to God, which thence arise, are groundless, and also that, however strange, yet as a matter of fact, evil can be overruled for good.

II. God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts, in regard to THE PURPOSE OF REDEMPTION. Man, as we learn from Scripture — the only source whence we can expect to know it — is not the only being who has fallen; but man is the only being who is redeemed. There arc those who profess not to believe in Scripture, but who arraign this supposed procedure as unfair and unequal; and there are those also who accept Scripture, and yet reject its apparently clear testimony as to the exclusion of fallen angels from mercy. Both classes of objectors go upon the same principle that God cannot justly punish with a final sentence of rejection those who have sinned against Him, no matter how aggravated their offences may be; but that in some way having given them being, He is bound to make that being ultimately good and happy. But this runs counter to the whole Bible doctrine of grace; for on this footing, redemption is a clear debt; and whether it be fallen angel or fallen man God is not entitled to withhold it. Men may stand in their views either upon justice or upon grace; but they are not entitled to stand upon both.

III. God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts,, in regard to THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION. How utterly unlike to any means of man's devising are those which God has chosen for the recovery of His lost creatures to His favour and image! All the opposition to evangelical religion with which we are surrounded, and which incessantly repeats, "Give us a Christianity that is rational! Give us a Christianity that we can believe! Give us a Christianity that meets, as everything else is doing, the advancement of the age! — what does it amount to but this, "Give us a Christianity without God! Give us a Christianity without that element of grandeur, of mystery, of overwhelming superiority to man's thoughts and ways, which compels awe and humbles pride t ' We accept the demand, come from what quarter it may, as an, involuntary homage to the superhuman glory of the faith we stand by.

IV. God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts, in regard to THE PROGRESS OF REDEMPTION. Redemption has a history; and this of all others the most difficult to scan, not only as it lies in the Bible, but in uninspired records. It has been said, "Interpret the Bible as any other book;" but though there is a certain truth in this, if we take it roundly it ultimately means, " Interpret God as you interpret man." You cannot even interpret Church history as you interpret any other history. It is in a sense which belongs to no other history, the story of a battle not yet fought out, of a campaign not yet ended; and there are combatants at work beyond the range of human observation, and a supreme celestial leader, whose point of survey none can share. I shall illustrate this union of mystery and greatness in regard to three features in the progress of redemption.

1. The rate of its progress.

2. The instruments of its progress.

3. The hindrances to its progress.Man would have thought that hindrances would have speedily been removed, or that if they were suffered to remain or to return, they would have proved un-mingled evils to the Church. But God, on the other hand, we can now so far see, by giving the victory slowly, trains the faith and courage of successive generations, and by permitting old enemies to return, or new ones to spring up, shows the un-exhausted and inexhaustible energy of His Gospel, to face and put down every hostile power.

V. It is only necessary to add a few words in regard to THE LIMITS OF REDEMPTION. Here also God's ways are not as our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts. And hence the real and painful difficulty, which has always been felt in regard to the Gospel, and perhaps never more openly expressed than in our own day. "Why should not all men, as God wishes, "be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth"? Why should redemption, in the case of the human family, have any limits at all? Can we aspire to take in all God's view of what a tremendous evil, like sin, and especially the rejection of the Son of God, may demand?

(J. Cairns, D. D.)

I. THE THOUGHTS OF GOD ARE ETERNAL AND IMMUTABLE; THE THOUGHTS OF MEN ARE TEMPORAL AND CHANGEABLE. Reflections on things older and less, changeable than ourselves arc the best guides to the unknown height-s of the Father's wisdom. They lead us some distance, but only to show us the way. These mountains were long seated on their rocky seats ore the plan of the pyramids of Egypt was conceived in the heart of man. These rivers had flown majestically in their channels for thousands of years before man made his aqueducts to entice them from their course. The revolving sun poured its ceaseless floods of light on the universe myriads of ages before the scientist made the first telescope. Astronomy tells us that the worlds which occupy distant locations in space have swept silently through their trackless regions for periods of indefinite duration. Geology unfolds the rocky leaves of the earth's crust, and deciphers hieroglyphics which roll us backward beyond animal and vegetable life to primeval rocks whose age no historian can compute. Thus we are furnished with materials to write a grand history of by-gone generations, stretching into the past beyond our comprehension. This history is the A B C of the eternal. The fact that the thoughts of God are eternal, fixes His immutable counsel and purpose. The redemption of fallen man is a thought without beginning, and is not subject to any variation. This is the rock on which we build our Christian faith. Through the varying scenes of life there runs the one purpose of God in Christ Jesus to save our souls and reconstruct human society.

II. THE THOUGHTS OF GOD ARE PRIMARY CAUSES, WHILE OURS ARE MERE IMPRESSIONS.

1. The heavens and the earth are manifestations, not only of power and wisdom, but of mind.

2. No less evident is it that the revelation of Himself as the Saviour of man through human consciousness is the product of His thoughts.(1) God's thoughts in the Gospel are greater than man's thoughts. So great are some of them that they are above human comprehension (Romans 11:33).(2) God's thoughts are better than man's thoughts. The whole of the chapter is a declaration of sovereign mercy. The offender is called to repentance, and offered a free pardon. Human wisdom would ask, How can this be? How shall moral government stand without punitive justice. Can God be just if He justify the repentant sinner? There is but one answer: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Mercy is inexplicable except in its operations.

III. GOD'S METHODS ARE INSCRUTABLE, LIKE UNTO HIS THOUGHTS; BUT MEN'S WAYS ARE CROOKED AND PERVERSE. The Scriptural meaning of the word "way" is the character with which actions are stamped. Actions reveal the thoughts and motives of the actor. They are a reflex of himself. The ways of God are His thoughts in operation. "Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known." These words echo those of an older book, or, at least, they are the echo of the wisdom of the ancients — "By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?" "Great and marvellous arc Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Fix your minds on the way of His goodness and mercy unto us. Think of the wonderful display of wisdom in the redemption of mankind. Jesus has appeared to remove our offences by the sacrifice of Himself. This great manifestation of eternal thought is the banquet at which the intelligences of heaven will sit, world without end.

IV. THE THOUGHTS AND WAYS OF GOD ARE BEFORE US FOR CORRECTION AND IMITATION.

V. THE THOUGHTS OF GOD ARE WITH US AS OUR INHERITANCE. He who has passed through the process of examining the casket to the possession of its contents, can say, "How precious also are Thy thoughts, O God I how great is the sum of them."

(T. Davies, M. A.)

"Lo, these are parts of His ways, but how little a portion is heard of Him! " This is one of the most sententious sayings of Job, and it expresseth, in a very emphatic manner, the works of God. what this holy man said of the wonders of nature, we, with much more reason, say of the wonders of grace. Collect all that pagan philosophers have taught of the goodness of the Supreme Being. To the opinions of philosophers join the declarations of the prophets. Add the discoveries of the evangelists and apostles. To the whole join your own experience; your ideas to their ideas, your meditations to their meditations, and then believe that ye are only floating on the surface of the goodness of God, that His love hath dimensions, a "breadth, and length, and depth, and height," " which the human mind can never attain": and, upon the brink of this ocean, say, "Lo, these are only parts of His ways, and how little a portion is heard of Him l Three things are necessary to explain the text.

I. THE MEANING MUST BE RESTRAINED. It is certain, that, in many respects, God's ways are our ways, and His thoughts our thoughts. I mean, that there are many cases in which we may assure ourselves that God thinks so and so, and will observe such or such a conduct. To contrast the supreme grandeur of the Creator with the insignificance of the creature; to persuade mankind that the great Supreme is too lofty to concern Himself with us, that our conduct is entirely indifferent to Him; that it signifies nothing to Him whether we be just or unjust, humane or cruel, happy or miserable: to say in these senses, that "God's ways are not our ways," that "His thoughts are not our thoughts," these are the arms that infidelity hath sometimes employed with success, and against the attacks of which we would guard you. For these reasons, the meaning of the text must be restrained, or it will totally subvert religion and morality. The exercise of my reasoning powers produceth in me some incontestable notions of God, and, from these notions immediately follow some sure consequences, which become the immovable basis of my faith in His Word, of my submission to His will, and of my confidence in His promises. These notions, and these consequences compose the body of natural religion. Let it be granted that God is, in many respects, quite incomprehensible, that we can obtain only a small degree of knowledge of this infinite Object, yet it will not follow that the notions which reason gives us of Him are less just, or, that the consequences, which immediately follow these notions, are less sure. If reason affords us some adequate notions of God, if some necessary consequences follow these notions, for a much stronger reason we may derive some adequate notions of God, and some sure consequences, from revelation.

II. THE OBJECT MUST BE DETERMINED. The prophet's expressions would have been true, had they been applied to all the attributes of God; however, they are applied here only to one of them, that is, to His goodness. Wherein do the thoughts of God differ from ours Z In God there are treasures of mercy, the depth of which no finite mind ten fathom. In Him goodness is as inconceivable as all His other attributes. In God, a sinner, who seems to have carried his sin to its utmost extravagance, and to have exhausted all the treasures of Divine grace, shall still find, if he "return unto the Lord," and cast himself at the foot of Him who "abundantly pardoneth," a goodness, a compassion, a love that he could not have imagined to find.

III. THE PROOFS MUST BE PRODUCED.

(1)The means by which God conciliated His justice with HIS love.

(2)His patience with those who abuse this means.

(3)His intimate union with those who fall in with the design of His patience.Let us address the text to the gloomy mind of a melancholy person, who, having failed in the courage necessary to resist temptations, fails again in that which is necessary to bear the thought of having fallen into them. What madness possesseth thy melancholy mind? The Holy Spirit assures thee that "though thy sins be as scarlet" He will make them "white as snow;" that "though they be red like crimson" He will make them "as wool;" and dost thou think that thy sins are too aggravated to be pardoned in this manner? The Holy Spirit gives thee a long list of the most execrable names in nature; a list of idolaters, murderers, extortioners, adulterers, persecutors, highway robbers, and blasphemers, who obtained mercy when they sought it: and art thou obstinately bent on excluding thyself from the number of those sinners to whom mercy is promised; and because thou dost not believe it attainable, dost thou obstinately refuse to ask for it? The Holy Spirit hath lifted up a Cross, and on that Cross a Redeemer, who is "able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him;" and who Himself saith to all sinners, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And dost thou flee from this Cross, and rather choose to sink under the weight of thy sins than to disburden them on a Redeemer who is willing to bear them? But, passing all these, let us return to the text. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," etc. This is sufficient to refute the whole system of a despairing mind.

(J. Saurin.)

These words are grand poetry and noble theology, but they are meant practically and in fiery earnestness. The "for" at the beginning of each clause points us back to the previous statement, and both of the verses of our text are in different ways its foundation. So we have here two things to consider in reference to the relation between the Divine purposes and acts and man's purposes and acts.

I. THE ANTAGONISM, AND THE INDICTMENT AND EXHORTATION THAT ARE BASED UPON THAT.

1. Notice the remarkable order and alternation of pronouns in the first verse. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," saith the Lord. The things that God thinks and purposes are not the things that man thinks and purposes, and therefore, because the thoughts are different, the outcomes of them in deeds are divergent. God's "ways" are His acts, the manner and course of His working considered as a path on which He moves, and on which, in some sense, we can also journey. Our "ways" — our manner of life — are not parallel with His, as they should be. But that opposition is expressed with a remarkable variation. Observe the change of pronouns in the two clauses. First, "My thoughts are not your thoughts" — you have not taken My truth into your minds, nor My purposes into your wills; you do not think God's thoughts. Therefore — "your ways (instead of "my", as we should have expected, to keep the regularity of the parallelism) are not My ways — I repudiate and abjure your conduct and condemn it utterly. Now, of course, in this charge of man's unlikeness to God there is no contradiction of, nor reference to, man's natural constitution, in which there are, at one and the same time, the likeness of the child with the parent and the unlikeness between the creature and the Creator. If our thoughts were not like God's thoughts we should know nothing about Him. If our thoughts were not like God's thoughts we should have no standard for life or thinking. Righteousness and beauty and truth and goodness are the same things in heaven and earth, and alike in God and man. We are made after His image, poor creatures though we be. But that very necessary and natural likeness between God and man makes more solemnly sinful the voluntary unlikeness which we have brought upon ourselves. Mark how wonderfully, in the simple language of my text, deep truths about this sin of ours is conveyed. Notice its growth and order. You begin with a heart and mind that does not take in God's thoughts, truths, purposes, desires, and the alienated will and the darkened understanding and the conscience which has closed itself against His imperative voice all issue afterwards in conduct which He cannot accept as in any way corresponding with His. First, the thought unreceptive of God's thought, and then the ways contrary to God's ways.

2. Notice the profound truth here in regard to the essential and deepest evil of all our evil. "Your thoughts;" "your ways." Self-dependence and self-confidence are the master-devils of humanity. And the root of all sin lies in these two strong, simple words, "Your thoughts not Mine; your ways not Mine."

3. Notice, too, how there are suggested the misery and retribution of this unlikeness. "If you will not make My thoughts your thoughts, I shall not take your ways as My ways; I will leave you to them. You will be filled with the fruit of your own devices. The question rises in many a heart, "How am I to forsake these paths on which my feet have so long walked? And if I do, what about all the years behind me, full of wild wonderings and thoughts, in all of which God was not?" The second verse of our text meets that despairing question.

II. THE ANALOGY BUT SUPERIORITY, AND THE EXHORTATION AND HOPE THAT ARE BUILT UPON THAT. This clause begins with God's ways, from which alone men can reach the knowledge of His thoughts. The first follows the order of God's knowledge of man; the second, that of man's knowledge of God.

1. God's way of dealing with sin is lifted up above all human example. There is such a thing as pardoning mercy amongst men. It is a faint analogy of, as it is an offshoot from the Divine pardon, but all the forgivingness of the most placable and long-suffering and gladly pardoning of men is but as earth to heaven compared with the greatness of His.

2. Again, God's way of dealing with sin surpasses all our thought. All religion has been pressed with this problem, how to harmonize the perfect rectitude of the Divine nature and the solemn claims of law with forgiveness. We have Jesus Christ. The mystery of forgiveness is solved, in so far as it is capable of solution, in Him and in Him alone.

3. We are taught here that God's way of dealing with sin is the very highest point of His self-revelation. If we want to see up into the highest heavens of God's character, we must go down into the depths of the consciousness of our own sin, and learn first how unlike our ways and thoughts are to God, ere we can understand how high above us, and yet beneficently arching over us, are His ways and thoughts to us.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. THERE IS REBUKE ADMINISTERED. The Lord says, "Forsake your way, for it is not My way; leave your thoughts, for they are not My thoughts." The rebuke is enveloped in love, and made into a sugar-coated pill; the sweet promise of abundant pardon conceals the reproof. Let us take the rebuke, and notice —

1. The fault of man's thoughts. "My thoughts are not your thoughts."(1) As between each other, God's thoughts are not man's, though they ought to be. God's thoughts are love, pity, tenderness; ours are forgetfulness, ingratitude, and hard-heartedness.(2) Your thoughts as to your conduct are not God's thoughts. He considers that the creatures He has made should obey Him, but you judge that it matters not what a man does towards his Maker so long as he is just towards his fellow-men.(3) God's thoughts, again, as to the life which a man needs in order to salvation are very different from man's thoughts. In this chapter He says, "Hear, and your soul shall live." He reckons, then, that man is dead till he has heard the word of God in his soul. Man reckons that he is alive enough.(4) God's thoughts are not our thoughts, again, in reference to the truth. Man thinks himself so wise and good that he does not like God's thoughts concerning himself, his fall, his,guilt, and his danger.(5) In the matter of salvation God's thoughts are not man's thoughts, for God thinketh that man has so sinned that he must be condemned except a substitute be found. Man thinks not so. God sets before himpardon freely presented through the precious blood: man thinks to buy it by his devotions, or to win it by his merits.

2. The text advances to say that man's ways are not like God's. Our ways are the outward actions which spring out of our thoughts. God's ways are ways of holiness and purity. God hath never done anything unjust to His creatures or unrighteous to Himself. But our ways are not so; they are full of error, marred with evil, polluted with impurity. By nature we love that which we ought to hate. Two cannot walk together in heaven except they be of one mind; so that our ways and God's ways must be made to be alike in character. Now, it is not possible for us to conceive of God's making His thoughts to be like our thoughts. What then? We must rise to Him.

3. I ask you to consider the difficulty of this. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways." How are we to be lifted up from earth to heaven? The word that answers the question is that matchless syllable, "grace." God in Christ Jesus, by His almighty grace, must raise us up together with Christ.

II. WE HAVE REPENTANCE ENCOURAGED. "Let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts." It is clear that there is a connecting link between the abundance of pardon and the lofty character of God, and that men are encouraged to forsake their ways and thoughts by the hope of pardon derived from the greatness of the Divine thoughts and ways.

1. Do not stand back because you cannot understand God. It is not needful that you should comprehend His ways and thoughts.

2. Neither start back because you cannot find a parallel to the grace which God declares that He will display towards you.

3. According to our text, whatever your ways towards God shall be in the future, He will exceed them. And as to your thoughts — can you think of how He will receive you?

III. EXPECTATION EXCITED. This time the link is forward instead of backward. "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither."! You are to expect that the Lord's word will be unfailing to you.

2. Next that you are returning to a God whose ways are so much above your ways, and His thoughts so much above your thoughts, that your heart shall be filled with joy — "ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace." God will not merely break off your chains and say in cold accents, "You are free;' but He will release you amid the music of the spheres.

3. Next to this, all your surroundings shall minister to your gladness. "The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing" etc. The mountain which you feared shall break forth into song, and the forest at which you trembled shall become an orchestra in which every tree shall clap its hands for joy.

4. And then, there shall happen to you wonderful transformations. Evil habits shall be withered and holy principles nourished.

5. This mercy is to endure for ever.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. Compare your thoughts of THE POSSIBILITY OF PARDON with God's thoughts about it. You naturally form your ideas of God's ways from what you conceive would be yours if you were in His position.

1. I take you on that ground, and we will suppose that some wicked person has very grossly injured you and that the question of your forgiving him is now mooted. We will suppose you to be of a generous, frank, forgiving disposition, and in a calm and judicious state of mind. You are ready to act most leniently, but still the case in hand is no trifle and requires consideration. After well pondering the matter, you feel bound to say, "I could forgive this person, but his offence is of a peculiarly grievous kind. With the most sincere, desire to pass over it, I feel that I must not, but must let the law take its course." There have been many occasions when persons aggrieved have thus spoken, and when no reasonable person could have blamed them. Such, O awakened sinner, is your case as before the Lord, and if He should think of you as one man would think of another, you must own Him to be just. You have offended God in the very tenderest point; you have denied His right to you, though you are His creature. Though you have been a pensioner upon His bounty, you have constantly insisted upon it that you were your own master, and had a right to do just as you pleased. You have thus invaded crown rights of the King of kings, and committed treason against His sovereignty: worst of all, you have committed sin against His only begotten and most dear son, the Lord Jesus. If it were your case, you could not forgive; but be astonished as you hear that your thoughts are not God's thoughts, and His ways of forgiveness are as high above your ways as the heavens are above the earth.

2. It is supposable that when you are weighing the case of an offender you decide upon it thus: "I could forgive him, bad as the sin is, if I thought he had fallen into it from inadvertence or carelessness, or if I supposed that he was moved by some great hope of gain for himself, but the offence was intentional, malicious, and wanton, and therefore I cannot remit it." Naturally you transfer these thoughts of yours to the Lord of heaven, and you say, "He will never pardon me, for I have trespassed wilfully. I have sinned without excuse." Such language as this befits a penitent's tongue; men cannot forgive their fellows when they perceive wanton malice in their crimes, "but God can forgive" you.

3. You will in some cases also be obliged to say, I could very readily have overlooked this fault, but it has been repeated. Such to the full, is your case, O troubled sinner, with regard to God. Though you hardly dare to think of forgiveness, God can not only think of it, but bestow it.

4. I can conceive a person greatly injured saying, "I would overlook all these injuries which have been hurled against me, but I cannot see any reason why I should have been the particular object of this man's spite; it has been quite undeserved on my part, and unprovoked. That would be a very excellent reason in a court of justice for insisting on the punishment of an offender. Listen to the voice of the good God whom you have injured (Isaiah 1:2, 3). What is the sequel to this very just but sad complaint? (Isaiah 1:18).

5. "Yes," says an offended person, "I might overlook the fault if I thought the man were wholly humbled now; but you seethe asks me to pardon, but he has not a sufficient sense of his guilt." Troubled sinner, this is very much your case. You are somewhat broken down, but you must confess that your heart is hard still, compared with what it ought to be. But, God says, "I will take away the heart of stone, and I will give them a heart of flesh."

6. "Still," exclaims the aggrieved party, "I think the man ought to make me some compensation." This principle is very properly recognized in courts of justice. Now, poor sinner, you feel that you cannot bring any compensation. But our loving God does not ask you for any compensation; He says, "Only return unto Me." Sin is freely forgiven for Jesus' sake.

7. Naturally, many a just-minded person would say, "If I were most gracious, yet I could not find it in my heart freely to forgive when I see the consequences always-before my eyes. Suppose that somebody had wantonly" injured your child; suppose he had broken one of your child's limbs, for instance; I think I hear you say, "I could forgive him, but look at my poor limping child." But sinner! God sees before Him daily tokens of what you have done! You can never unwrith the past, nor restore the lost one. All that accursed past of sin must live on. If you light the fire, it will burn on to the lowest hell. God may forgive your incendiarism, but the fire itself still continues. With all the consequences of your sin before Him, He forgives you freely if you rest on Jesus.

8. Furthermore, I can conceive a case in which the offended party can fairly say, "I do feel from my" heart fully prepared to forget this offence against me, but it was public, and therefore highly, "obnoxious, and injurious." Trembling "sinner," you also may well think, Surely God wall never forgive me, for against Him only have I sinned, and done this evil in His sight. I sinned in the face of the sun. I sinned unblushingly, and gloried in my shame. Rejoice, poor mourner, that this is no reason why the Lord should not forgive you, for as high as the heavens arc above the earth so high are His thoughts above your thoughts.

9. I can imagine it possible that an offended one might add, by way of clenching all his arguments against pardon, "My forgiveness he has already despised. I have put myself to great expense in order to subdue his hatred, and yet he has stood out against me. How can reason and justice expect me to do any more? I might, perhaps, answer, No; neither of them can well expect more of you; but what we cannot expect of you, the guilty sinner may yet expect of God.

II. Contrast your thoughts about THE PLAN OF PARDON with God's thoughts. If you have advanced far enough to believe that God can pardon, and have to this extent laid hold upon God's thoughts, it is well; but still another of your own thoughts drags you down, for you have a wrong idea of the way of pardon.

1. I will suppose that there are persons who ignorantly say, "If it be true that the Lord will pardon sin, let Him do it outright; let Him just take the pen and mark through all my transgressions, and have done with them. He has but to say, ' I forgive thee, and there is an end of it. But God's thoughts are not your thoughts in this case. You have evidently become so impure in heart as to look upon sin as a trifle; but the Judge of all the earth is of another mind. The great Rules cannot suffer sin to go unpunished.

2. Others have a notion that God may, perhaps, forgive them by putting them through a course of affliction. It is still a superstitious notion lingering in England, that poor persons are the special objects of Divine favour, and that hard work and poverty, and especially a long lingering sickness, are a means of putting away sin; for persons so afflicted have had so much misery in this life that they do not deserve to suffer more. But your thoughts on this matter are not God's thoughts. You may be as poor as Lazarus, but never lie in Abraham's bosom; yon may endure as many sufferings here as fell to the lot of Job, and yet may go from Job's dunghill to hell. Cast out any idea that these sufferings or privations of yours can make atonement for sin

3. A more current idea still is, that God will pur away the past and give men a new start, and that if they go on well for the future, then in their dying hour God will speak pardon. But there is nothing of that kind in the Word of God.

4. There is a very current supposition, however, that God pardons sin in this way: that He says, "Well, now, I forgive you the past. My law was a little too severe for you, but I will try, you again under a more lenient rule. Do as well as you can, and I will save you. But God does nothing of the kind! The forgiveness which is given to a sinner reaches to the sins which are yet to be committed as well as to the sins which he has already done. Christ stood for you, and therefore God is severely just while He is bountifully merciful to you. In the next place, when God forgives you He does it unconditionally.

III. THE PRESENT POSSESSION OF THIS PARDON.

1. There is an idea in the mind of many that the plan of just trusting in Christ, and being pardoned on the spot, is too simple to be safe. It is a well-known fact that the simplest remedies are the most potent and safe; and, certainly, the simplest rules in mechanics are just those upon which the greatest engineers construct their most wonderful erections. Do not despise the Gospel because it is simple.

2. I think I hear you say, "It is too good to be true." But it is just like our God.

3. I think I hear your heart say, "It seems to me to be a plan too swift to be sure." This is no human nostrum, this is a Divine prescription.

4. Believe and live!" Have done with thyself, and begin with Christ.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.
Nature, Providence and Grace abound in eloquent illustrations of the text.

I. OBSERVE NATURE.

1. God's works are characteristic. They manifest His character. Man's do not. We cannot tell infallibly what a fellow-creature is by remarking what he does. A garment is made for you. Are you able, as you look at it, to discover what the maker is? A carpenter constructs a box, table or chair; but nothing in its manufacture informs the spectator of the workman's holiness or sinfulness. It is even so with books. The productions of the pen sometimes oppose the deeds of the life. But God's works show us Himself. The purity and power, the mercy and majesty of Jehovah, are all displayed in creation.

2. God's works will bear the most minute examination. In yonder gallery of art is a painting. Stand from it at a certain distance and you are struck with its beauty. Look at it closely and it becomes a mere confusion of colours. But ascend a hill. Gaze at the landscape. Here it is a Divine picture. The fields are emerald with grass, golden and white with prolific wild-flowers. Beheld afar off, the scene is glorious. Come down the hill, however. Go into the meadow. Pluck one of the flowers, and gaze at it minutely; gather a blade of grass, and subject it to a most scrutinizing examination. It will bear it. It is as beautiful as ever. A piece of lace which looks delicate and fine to the naked eye becomes coarse and clumsy under a microscope. Not so the wing of a fly or a moth. Magnify the finest needle ever made, and it immediately looks rude and rough; but magnify the sting of a, bee a million of times, and its surface is still smooth and unvarying.

3. Gods works are inexhaustible in attractiveness. We never tire of nature. Human achievements are limited in the interest which they yield.

II. STUDY PROVIDENCE. How opposed to men's expectations have been many of God's dealings. Placed in His position they would ]lave done the very opposite of what He was pleased to accomplish. E.g. Israel when brought out of Egypt; Joshua and Jericho; Gideon and the Midianites; Naaman and his leprosy. "Man proposes, God disposes." We form our plans; He frequently leaves them where they are, and never allows them to crystallize into action. Brains are racked and hearts made anxious touching divers schemes and sundry intentions, when, lo! He who has the disposing of the lot quietly ignores them, and leads us into an altogether different path from that which we expected. I once visited the house of a friend. While waiting for admission my attention was arrested by a trivial but suggestive object. Beside the door an evergreen had been planted It was drooping and dying. Close to it, however, was a wild flower. Dropped by a passing bird, or cast there on the wings of the wind, some seed had taken root. It flourished and grew strong. Nor is it otherwise with human events. Schemes which we set, water, and watch, disappoint us and fail, while God gives to something very different vigour and life.

III. CONSIDER GRACE. In His" spiritual dealings with us, Neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.

1. God loves all. We do not. Large-hearted philanthropists, whose affection takes in the whole race, are exceptional.

2. God makes allowance for our difficulties. Physical infirmities commonly awaken pity. We take. them into account when we judge. Would that we carried out the same rule a little further! Not seldom when we Judge of our fellows morally and spiritually, we lose sight of the difficulties which they have to encounter. If we remembered their peculiar trials and temptations, we should speak a little less harshly of them. God makes full and large allowance for our difficulties. He sees and appreciates the obstacles with which we grapple. "He remembereth that we are dust.

3. God helps us through our difficulties. Adversity is a severe ordeal. Tried thereby, many friendships are found wanting. Fair weather and smooth sailing on life's sea will win fellow-voyagers, but clouds and breakers few will share with us. How different is it with God; "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" — not even in trial. Nay, He is nearer to us then than ever. He not only makes allowance for our difficulties, but helps us through them. Two children were once overheard talking about the Good Shepherd. "What does He do?" said one. "He feeds the sheep, and drives away the wild beasts," was the reply. "But," rejoined the first, "He does more for the sheep; He carries them up hill."

4. God is very forgiving. Man is not: he is slow to pardon (ver. 7).

(T. R. Stevenson.)

An evangelist was conducting special services in a Yorkshire village and urged his Gospel-hardened audience to immediate decision. As he pictured the longsuffering of God his face beamed with holy excitement. Then, falling on his knees, he cried, "Lord, Lord, how stubborn they are! If I had been Thee, I'd a had 'em all in hell long since."

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