Does a maiden forget her jewelry or a bride her wedding sash? Yet My people have forgotten Me for days without number.
I. THE POSSIBILITY OF REFUSING CHASTISEMENT.
II. MISERY AND PAIN ARE NOT OF THEMSELVES MINISTERS OF GRACE.
III. RIGHTLY RECEIVED, OUR GREATEST GRIEFS MAY BECOME OUR GREATEST MERCIES.
Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet My people have forgotten Me.
I. A VERY GRIEVOUS SIN. "My people have forgotten Me days without number."
1. Observe whom they had forgotten: it will help us to see the sin of it. It would not have mattered half as much if they had forgotten their dearest friends — the husband his wife, or the mother her child; but here are favoured men and women who have forgotten their God, their Father, their life, their all. God, the good, the best, who has a chief right to be remembered. There is great evil in our hearts, or it would be so hard to forget God as to be impossible. A friend has gone away from us, and we do not see him; but he has left so many tokens of his goodness that we are reminded of him every day. Is it not so with God? Has He not left us innumerable tokens of His affection for us? Ought we to forget when so many forget-me-nots are round about us? But, supposing that friend has not gone away at all, but is living with us in the house, and enters even into our chamber, what shall we say if we forget one who is constantly with us? No man is so present with his friend as God is with His people.
2. Who were they that forgot God? Not strangers, not heathen; but "My people." That is to say, a people not only chosen and redeemed, but brought to know Him, brought into fellowship with Him, brought into relationship with Him, brought absolutely into union with Him, — they have forgotten Me.
3. Observe sadly the space in which they had forgotten: in the case of Israel, it is added, "days without number." How long is it since you were in the habit of walking with God? How long is it since you have seen the face of the Well-Beloved? I ventured to put that question once to a professor, and, shaking his head, he replied, "Don't ask me that: if you will ask me whether I have been a drunkard, whether I have been dishonest in business, whether I have done any positive action by which I have degraded the Christian name, I can answer you without fear; but if you ask, How long since I have had fellowship with Christ, I cannot — I dare not — answer you."
4. How is God forgotten? What are the manifestations of this offence?(1) Some professors evidently forget God by their worldliness They have been fattened with the treasures of the world, but their souls have been starved to very skeletons, for they have not fed upon the things of God.(2) Some have forgotten God by self-seeking. They live unto themselves.(3) Some, too, show that they forget God by the failure of their trust. They are in trouble, and they are very anxious. Why? Because they have forgotten God, though He has promised to help them.(4) Alas, there are some who add to this a forgetfulness of God through neglect of private devotion. Prayers are slurred over; drawing near to God becomes a form and a pretence.(5) And you and I can do it in a very high sense by a breach of communion, by getting out of fellowship with God, by walking contrary to Him, so that He walks contrary to us. It is very bad walking and very bad living when God and ourselves are at cross purposes.
5. If ever we do forget God, it leads to all sorts of mischief. We lose our joy and our comfort; and then we lose our strength and our watchfulness; and then we backslide by little and little; and then, probably, we fall into one sin, and then into another sin, if not into a third more grievous still
II. THE CHIDING QUESTION which is the very marrow of the text. "Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire?"
1. I suppose that question is put, first, because there are many trivial things which occupy minds so that they cannot forget them. How sad it is that the grandest things, the best things, should not equally engross our thoughts!
2. If a bride did forget her attire, or a maid did forget her ornaments, it would be very unreasonable behaviour. But how infinitely more unreasonable it is that you and I should forget God. He is our diadem of glory: He is our beauty of holiness. In Christ we are arrayed in raiment of needlework, and our garments are of wrought gold. Can we, shall we forget Him?
3. It would have been a most unseasonable thing for a maid to forget her attire at her wedding. A bride who forgets her attire would be something like the foolish virgins who forgot to take oil in their vessels with their lamps. And, certainly, it is a most unseasonable thing for me and you to forget our God while we are here. Let the soldier, when the arrow is flying from every bush, forget his armour, but let us not forget our God. Let the hungry man, when famine rages through the land, forget his store of bread, but let us not forget the food of our souls, which is our Lord Jesus.
4. Notice the conduct of the maid or the conduct of the bride, with regard to her ornaments.(1) She labours hard to obtain her ornaments and to gain her attire. Many women in the East save up every coin that they have, and turn all into silver. It is their life's work to provide themselves with ornaments against the marriage day. While they do this, let us do better: let us store up the thoughts of Christ, and the words of Christ, and the things of Christ, and let us labour to get more and more of Christ, that we may be adorned with Him and made comely in His comeliness.(2) When the Eastern woman has with great difficulty obtained her ornaments and her attire, then she thinks a great deal of them: she preserves them with much care; she will, if possible, prevent a thief from taking away a ring or gem; she locks them up carefully. Oh, that we did store up every bit we get of our Lord's loves and put it by to keep it, never losing any pearl that we find, or any ring that we fashion by experience.(3) How joyfully the Eastern woman puts on her jewels, puts on her attire. She has these things to wear them. I am ashamed of those Christians who are ashamed of Christ. They have jewels: I hope they have; but they are very chary of ever showing them.
III. A few words of CALL TO REPENTANCE, if we have in any measure forgotten God. I am sure, first, that our God does not deserve to be treated so. "You use no other friend so ill." Have you forgotten? Will not the time past suffice for that? A half a minute's forgetfulness of God is half a minute too long. Let it not come to be "days without number." But, if the number be ever so small, let us weep to think we should have forgotten Him at all. Think, if He had forgotten you — forgotten you in your merriest moment, ay, in your holiest moment, what would have been your portion?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE SAME CHARGE LIES WITH TOO GREAT FORCE AGAINST ALL CHRISTENDOM. The true secret of this lurks in the obstinate ungodliness of the carnal mind. This hinders the recollection of God in the following modes —
1. In habitual inattention to Divine truth, when presented to the mind. Some try to excuse their ignorance of God and His inspired Word, pleading, "I have such a bad memory," when the memory is quite good enough, if Divine truths were once welt lodged in it by due attention. No memory, however excellent, can retain that which was never allowed to make an impression (Hebrews 2:1).
2. In neglect of reflection on Divine truth read or heard. Where there is little meditation on God and His Word, it is vain to expect a rich experience, or a solid religious character.
3. In the occupation of the mind with comparative trifles. Filling our measures with chaff, we leave no room for good and solid grain. The maid thinks of her ornaments, and the bride of her attire. The young — and not they only, but many to whom increasing years have brought no wisdom — fill their thoughts and conversation with the fashions, the amusements, and entertainments of the season; and so can have, in their foolishly occupied minds, no grave recollection of that God with whom they have to do. It was a judicious answer of Themistocles to Simonides, who had offered to teach him the art of memory, "Rather teach me the art of forgetfulness; for the things which I would not I remember, and cannot forget the things I would."
4. In excess of worldly cares. There are grave anxieties regarding success in business, or the attainment of a coveted position, that so press upon the soul as to preclude the earnest recollection of religious truth. Hence it happens that shrewd men, who easily remember whatever affects the markets, cannot remember how to "buy the truth"; and readily quoting the stock and share lists of commercial enterprise, cannot accurately quote the verses of the blessed Word of God.
II. TO SHOW THE EVIL OF FORGETFULNESS, let it be considered how much a religiously stored memory tells on the development of the Christian mind and formation of the Christian character. It constitutes knowledge, it deepens repentance, it fortifies faith, it supplies comfort, and moves continual thankfulness.
(D. Fraser, M. A.)
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