Jeremiah 2:9
Therefore, I will contend with you again, declares the LORD, and I will bring a case against your children's children.
Sermons
A Sweet Remembrance EmbitteredS. Conway Jeremiah 2:1-14
The Indictment of IsraelA.F. Muir Jeremiah 2:4-9
Changing GodsChristian ObserverJeremiah 2:9-13
Christian ControversyJ. Parker, D. D.Jeremiah 2:9-13
Hath a Nation Changed Their Gods?John Trapp.Jeremiah 2:9-13
Seven WondersD. J. Burrell, D. D.Jeremiah 2:9-13
Sin UnnaturalT. D. Woolsey.Jeremiah 2:9-13


The chosen nation is arraigned in all its generations and in all its orders. It is a universal and continuous crime; and it ran parallel with a succession of unheard-of mercies, deliverances, and favors. In these respects it corresponds to the sin of God's people in every age - forgetfulness of past mercy, abuse of present blessings, the corruption and perverseness of those who were entrusted with Divine mysteries and sacred offices.

I. JEHOVAH APPEALS TO HIS CHARACTER AND DEALINGS IN THE PAST IN DISPROOF OF THERE BEING ANY EXCUSE IN THEM FOR THE SIN OF HIS PEOPLE. Inquiry is challenged. History is rehearsed. So it always has been. The reason for the sins, etc., of God's people is in themselves and not in God. God is just, and all the allegations and murmurs of unbelieving and disobedient Israel are lies. So the excuses Christians often give for their faults and offences are already answered in advance. We have received from him nothing but good. His help and protection were at our disposal; but we forsook him, and sinned against both him and ourselves.

II. THE ENORMITY OF THE OFFENCE IS THEN SET FORTH. The recital is marked by simplicity, symmetry, force, and point. It contains the undeniable commonplaces of history and experience, but the artist's power is shown in the grouping and perspective.

1. It is ancient and hereditary. The fathers, the children, and the children's children. Just as they could not go back to a time when God had not cared for them and blessed them, so they could not discover a time when they or their forefathers had not shown unbelief and ingratitude. It is pertinent to ask in such a case, "Must there not be some hereditary and original taint in the sinners themselves?" What will men do with the actual existence of depravity? How will they explain its miserable entail? Human history in every age is marked by persistent wickedness; Christianity suggests an explanation of this. It is for objectors to substitute a better.

2. It consists in ingratitude, unbelief, and the service of false gods. The Exodus with all its marvels and mercies, the blessings that surrounded them in the present, go for naught. They are forgotten or ignored. And idols, which are but vanity, are sought after to such an extent that their worshippers "are like unto them." This is the history of religious defection in every age. Forgetfulness of God, ingratitude, and the overwhelming influence of worldly interests and concerns, and the lusts of our own sinful nature, work the same ruin in us. How many idols does the modern world, the modern Church not set up?

3. It is marked by the abuse of blessings and the breach of sacred trusts. When men are rendered worthless by their sinful practices, they cannot appreciate the good things of God. Divine bounty is wasted, and blessings are abused. Sacred things are desecrated. Those who ought to be leaders and examples are worse than others. The priest who, if any one, ought to know the "secret place," "the holy of holies," of the Most High, is asking where he is. The lawyers are the greatest law-breakers. The pastors, who ought to guide and feed, are become "blind mouths." And the prophets are false. Corruptio optimi pessima. How hard is the heart that has once known God! "If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!" The backslider, the child of holy parents, etc., who shall estimate their wickedness?

III. FOR ALL THESE THINGS MEN WILL BE BROUGHT INTO JUDGMENT. The assurance is very terrible: "I will yet plead with" (i.e. reckon with or plead against) "you... and with your children's children will I plead." This is the same Jehovah who "keepeth mercy for thousands" but "visiteth the iniquity of the fathers upon the children." There is a solidarity in Israel, Christendom, and the race, which will be brought to light in that day. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," and to bear our offences in the company of transgressors and the universal connection of the world's sin. "But as in Adam all have died, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Jesus is set forth as the Head and Representative of the humanity he redeems. Let us seek oneness with him through faith. - M.









Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods?
The text may be put into other words, thus: "Go over to the islands of the Chittim, the isles and coast lands of the far west; then go to Kedar, away in the eastern desert, — go from east to west, — and ask if any heathen land has given up its idols, and you will find that no such thing has ever taken place; but whilst the heathen have kept to their gods as if they bad strong love for them, My people, for whom I have done so much, whose names are on the palms of My hands, have turned away from Me, and have given up their living and loving God for that which can do them no good." There must be some way of accounting for conduct so clearly unreasonable and ungrateful. We may perhaps find our way to the secret step by step, if we notice one or two things that we ourselves are in the habit of doing. We all know how much easier it is to keep up the form of religion than to be true to its spirit. Say that religion is a number of things to be done, some at this hour and some at that, and you bring it, so to speak, within range of the hand, and make it manageable; but instead of doing this, show that religion means spiritual worship, a sanctified conscience, and a daily, sacrifice of the will, and you at once invoke the severest resistance to its supremacy. Or say that religion simply means a passive acceptance of certain dogmas that can be fully expressed in words, which make no demand upon inquiry or sympathy, and you will awaken the least possible opposition; but make it a spiritual authority, a rigorous and incessant discipline imposed upon the whole life, and you will send a sword upon the earth, and enkindle a great fire. Earnest religious controversy seems to be but the higher aspect of another controversy which has vexed man through all time. The study of God is the higher side of the study of man. It is a singular thing that man has never been able to make himself quite out, though he has been zealously mindful of the doctrine that "the proper study of mankind is man." He wants to know exactly whence he came and what he is; but the voice which answers him is sometimes mocking, and nearly always doubtful. Is it wonderful that man, who has had so much difficulty with himself, should have had proportionately greater difficulty with such a God as is revealed in the Bible? On the contrary, it will be found that the two studies — the study of man and the study of God — always go together, and that the ardour of the one determines the intensity of the other. In this view the text might read thus: Pass over the isles of the Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see whether the inhabitants thereof have studied the physiology and chemistry of their own bodies; but the philosophers of Christendom have built themselves upon protoplasm. Kedar cared nothing about humanity, and therefore it cared nothing about divinity. When man is not deeply interested in himself it is not likely that he will be deeply interested in God. In the doctrine that the very greatness of God is itself the occasion of religious controversy, and even of religious doubt and defective constancy, we find the best answer to a difficulty created by the words of the text. That difficulty may be put thus: If the people of Chittim and of Kedar are faithful to their gods, does it not prove that those gods have power to inspire and retain confidence? and if the people of Israel are always turning away from their God, does it not show that their God is unable to keep His hold upon their occasional love? Such a putting of the case would be valid if inquiry be limited to the letter. But if we go below the surface we must instantly strip it of all worth as a plea on behalf of idolatry. Clearly so; for, not to go further, if it proves anything it proves too much; thus — the marble statue which you prize so highly has never given you a moment's pain; your child has occasioned you days and nights of anxiety; therefore a marble statue has more moral power (power to retain your admiration) than has a child. Your clock you understand thoroughly; you can unmake and make it again, and explain its entire mechanism down to the finest point of its action; but that child of yours is a mystery which seems to increase day by day: therefore you have more satisfaction in the clock than in the child. So the argument in favour of Kedar proves nothing, because it not only proves too much, but lands the reasoner in a practical absurdity. The foundation of this argument is, that of all subjects that engage the human mind, religion (whether true or false) is the most exciting; that in proportion as it enlarges its claims, will it be likely to occasion controversy; and that, as the religion of the Bible enlarges its claims beyond all other religions, assailing the intellect, the conscience, the will, and bringing every thought and every imagination of the heart into subjection, and demanding the corroboration of spiritual faith by works that rise to the point of self-crucifixion, the probability is that there will not only be a controversy between man and man as to its authority and beneficence, but also a controversy between man and God as to its acceptance; and that out of this latter controversy will come the very defection complained of in the text, and will come also the vexatious human controversies which may really be but so many excuses for resisting the moral discipline of the Gospel. This is the whole argument. Specially is to be noted that the principal controversy is not between man and man, but between man and God; our hearts are not loyal to our Maker; His commandments are grievous to souls that love their ease. The God of grace, rich in all comfort and promise, we do not cast off. We want such a God. But the God of law, of purity, of judgment, terrible in wrath and not to be deceived by lies, our hearts can only receive with broken loyalty, loving Him today, and grieving Him tomorrow. It is in this sad fact that we find the only satisfactory explanation of the slowness of the spread of the Christian kingdom. Evil hates goodness, hates light, hates God; and as truth cannot fight with carnal weapons, or force, itself upon the world by physical means, it can only "stand at the door and knock," and mourn the slowness which it cannot accelerate. It is God's will that the rock grow slowly, and that the forest hasten not its maturity; but it is surely not the will of the Lord that His children should grieve Him long, and provoke Him to wrath through many generations. We have been speaking of the controversy respecting the Unseen and Invisible God. There is a distinct effort made in our day to turn the controversy out of historical channels, and to fasten it upon abstract speculation. We must resist this effort, for we, at all events, believe that the discussion concerning essential Deity was started from a new centre when Jesus Christ came into the world. No name given under heaven amongst men has occasioned, and is now occasioning, so much controversy as the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Men do not know what to make of Christ. You cannot get rid of Christ: you exclude Him from your schools by Act of Parliament, but He, passing through the midst of you, says, "Suffer Me and the children to meet; let the flowers see the sun"; you find Him in statute books, in philanthropic institutions, in literature; you find Him now just as His disciples found Him, in out-of-the-way places, doing out-of-the-way things; — "they marvelled that He spake with the woman," — the eternal marvel, the eternal hope! This leads us to remark that how strong soever Christianity may be in force and dignity of pure argument — and in that direction it has proved itself victorious on all fields — its mightiest force for good is in its vital and inexhaustible sympathy. Christianity as a sympathetic religion, tender, hopeful, patient, with morning light forever falling on its uplifted eyes, leaning with all its trust upon the Cross of the atoning Son of God, calling men from sin, ignorance, and death, is a figure the world will not willingly spare in its day of anguish and sore distress. It will be interesting to observe how God Himself meets the controversy which He deplores, for in doing so, we may learn a method of reply. When God answers, His reply must be the best. Look at the Divine challenge: "What iniquity have your fathers found in Me, that they are gone far from Me?" This sublime challenge you cannot find in all the sayings of heathen gods. And this is the invincible defence of the Christian religion in all ages and in all lands, — you have purity at the centre, you have holiness on the throne! Those who have read s immortal work, The City of God, will remember with what fierce eloquence he scourges the gods of pagan Rome. How biting his tone, how keen his retorts, how broad his sarcasm! "Why," he sternly demands, "did the gods publish no laws which might have guided their devotees to a virtuous life?" And again, "Did ever the walls of any of their temples echo to any such warning voice? I myself," he continues, "when I was a young man, used sometimes to go to sacrilegious entertainments and spectacles; I saw the priests raving in religious excitement, and before the couch of the mother of the gods there were sung productions so obscene and filthy for the ear that not even the mother of the foul-mouthed players themselves could have formed one of the audience." History, as you know, is full of such instances. Remembering these things, you may see the force of the inquiry, "What iniquity have your fathers found in Me?" This is the invincible defence of the Christian religion today. Observe how Jesus Christ repeats the very challenge we find in the text, — "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" And, later on, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil." They had accused Him often, but had convicted Him never! We apply this doctrine with timidity, for who would wilfully slay himself, or bring judgment upon a thousand men? Yet the application is this: When the Church is holy, the Christian controversy is ended in universal and immortal triumph!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Christian Observer.
The records of all ages exhibit the strange obstinacy with which the heathen usually cling to their superstitions. If we except the triumphs obtained over paganism by the Gospel of Christ from the apostolic age up to the present, some of which even in our own day have been most signal, the idolatrous nations of the world still perpetuate the absurd and unholy practices transmitted to them by their fathers. Most urgent then is it upon all Christians to feel pity for their fellow creatures sunk in the darkness and guilt of heathenism, and by Christian teachers to rescue them from their fearful condition. But there is also another practical consideration connected with a survey of the obstinate blindness and superstition of the heathen, and their devotion to their idolatrous worship, namely, the contrast which it affords to the conduct of too many who consider themselves worshippers of the one true God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. May it not too truly be said, "Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit."

I. WE HAVE SET BEFORE US EVIL CONDUCT OF THE PEOPLE.

1. The first step in the career of evil is "forsaking God." This is the fountain and root of all other sins. While the prodigal son remained contented under his parent's roof he knew nothing of the want, the hunger, which he afterwards experienced. His first sin, and that which led to all the evils which overtook him, was his neglect towards his parent, his indifference to his approbation, his wish to cast off the duties he owed to him. If then we would guard against evil, we must watch over our hearts, and beware of forsaking God. The more gross violations of His law are readily discovered, while perhaps we think little or nothing of that great sin which is the foundation of all others.

2. But this sin leads to another; for we are not content when we forsake God, that our hearts should continue a mere blank; we seek to fill up the void which His absence has made, and to find our satisfaction in other objects, which can never afford us true repose. Having forsaken God, we choose to ourselves idols. In the words of the Almighty in the chapter before us, "they are gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity, and become vain"; they even refuse His offers of peace and reconciliation.

II. Such is the universal offence of mankind against God: we proceed now to show THE SINFULNESS, THE INGRATITUDE, AND THE FOLLY, WHICH ARE INVOLVED IN IT.

1. Its extreme sinfulness. Persons are apt to speak and to think of these subjects with the most careless indifference. They do not consider themselves as virtually addressed in such words as those in the chapter which precedes our text, where Jehovah says by His prophet, "I will utter My judgments against them, touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods." They do not open their eyes to the aggravation of their crime, as pointed out even by our natural sense of obligation to our Creator, of which the very heathen are examples; for, says the Almighty, "hath any nation changed their gods, which are yet no god?" The light of natural reason taught them that they ought to obey their Creator, their preserver, and their benefactor. But the proof of our sinfulness in forsaking God, and in placing our trust and happiness in the things of this present life, does not depend upon the mere light of natural conscience; for we have in our possession a revelation from Himself, in which He plainly declares to us His own unerring decision upon the subject. "Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice; and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him."

2. But the sinfulness of forsaking God, and preferring other things to His service, is greatly aggravated by the ingratitude involved in the offence. The Almighty reminds His rebellious people of the miracles of mercy which He had performed on their behalf; how He had brought them out of the land of Egypt, etc. He gave them His law to guide them, and pastors to teach them; and He challenges them, as it were, to point out any instance in which He had acted unjustly or unkindly towards them: "what iniquity have your fathers found in Me?"

3. But there is still another consideration dwelt upon by the prophet in reference to this sinful and ungrateful course of conduct, namely, its unparalleled folly. The very heathen would not give up their vain hope of benefit from the supposed protection of their images of wood and stone; yet the professed worshippers of the one living and true God are too often willing to sacrifice the inestimable blessings of His favour for the most trifling gratifications of a frail and sinful life. "My people have changed their glory, for that which doth not profit." No! it is the height of folly thus to choose the worldly mammon before the true riches; to forsake God for the creature; and to prefer earth to heaven, and time to eternity. Are we not conscious that we have seen guilty of the sin of forsaking God?

(Christian Observer.)

Xenophon said it was an oracle of Apollo, that these gods are rightly worshipped which were delivered them by their ancestors; and this he greatly applaudeth. Cicero also saith, that no reason shall ever prevail with him to relinquish the religion of his forefathers. The monarch of Morocco told an English ambassador that he had lately read St. Paul, and that he disliked nothing in him but this, that he had changed his religion,

(John Trapp.)

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this
Parents of olden time were wont to tell their eager children of seven wonders:

(1)The Pyramids.

(2)The Temple of the great Diana of the Ephesians.

(3)The Statue of Jupiter at Olympia.

(4)The Tomb of Mausolus. What a satire on immortality! Who was Mausolus? We know not, but the mausoleum is with us. He gave his name and glory to his tomb.

(5)The Colossus at Rhodes.

(6)The Pharos at Alexandria.

(7)The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.We have to do, however, at this moment with marvels in the province of the spiritual life. There are some things here touching our relations with the spiritual world whereat heaven must wonder. A thoughtful man will find it impossible to explain them.

I. AN UNCLAIMED CROWN. God made man in His likeness, with a splendid birthright and glorious possibilities before him. He was of the line royal, the blood of the King of kings flowing in his veins. Where is the man to whom God extends this crown? See him yonder chasing butterflies, pursuing thistle down. He calls this pleasure. See him toiling with a muck rake, his eyes downcast, plucking coins out of the garbage and loading himself with them. He calls this wealth. See him climbing laboriously the rocky side of yonder cliff that he may carve his initials upon its face — and fall. And this is fame! All the while the windows of heaven are open above him and the glory of the celestial realms is unveiled before him. He gives no heed.

II. A SECRET SIN. Here we touch the lowest part of our nature. A dog with a bone sneaks off to a corner of the garden and buries it, watching meanwhile out of the corners of his eyes that none may know his secret. So we bury our darling sins; so we flatter ourselves that none shall ever find us out. An Egyptian princess died four thousand years ago, and her body was committed to a company of priests for embalming. They said, "Let us save ourselves the trouble; it will never be known." So they dipped the body of a common Egyptian into bitumen and placed it in the princess' casket. It was a clever trick; but a few years ago, before a company of scientists at Tremont Temple, gathered together to witness the unswathing of the royal mummy, the bands of byssus were unwound, and the fraud perpetrated by those priests, now forty centuries dead and turned to dust, was detected. There is, indeed, nothing hidden that shall not be brought to light, and that which is done in a corner shall be proclaimed on the housetop.

III. A REPROBATE'S LAUGH. Not long ago I heard the merry laughter of a girl and looked that way. A carriage was passing by. Through the open window I saw two women, the one old, haggard, bedizened — it was easy to discern her vocation — the other a sweet-faced girl late from some country home, going garlanded to death. God help her! How dare they laugh who are hurrying on unprepared to the judgment bar? Yet they are making merry everywhere. O men and women, let us De safe and then be merry.

IV. A CHRISTIAN'S GROAN. We profess to believe that the past is forgiven, all gone like a nightmare, and that heaven is open before us and that Christ walks with us, an ever-present and helpful friend. If a man believes these things, how can he ever hang his head like a bulrush? Surely something is wrong. One night in Newgate prison a man sang cheerily and swung like a boy on the post of his bed. "Fine shining shall we have tomorrow!" Who is this, and what "shining" shall there be? This is John Bradford, and tomorrow he is to die at. the stake. But what matter, if the day after tomorrow he shall be in the midst of the merry making of heaven? Why, shall he not with gladsome heart be praising God?

V. A TATTERED LIVERY. Our Lord tells of a marriage feast whereat a certain one was found who had not on the wedding gown. His host remonstrated with him, "Friend, how earnest thou in hither in this garb?" And the man was silent. We are going to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Our heavenly Host has provided for us fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints. To appear in that heavenly presence clad in our own righteous. ness is to be found arrayed in rags and tatters, for all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

VI. AN AVERTED FACE. A few days ago, at a hanging in a neighbouring State, it is said that twenty thousand people left town and tramped four miles along a country road to see a poor wretch swung from the gallows tree. There is, indeed, something brutal in our human nature. When our Lord was dying on the accursed tree it is written, "The people stood beholding." Is it strange that men should look on anguish with a calm delight? Was it strange that men could look at Jesus dying and feel no responsive thrill of sympathy? Ah! a thousand times stranger is it that some of us should refuse to look upon Him! We hide, as it were, our faces from Him; He is despised and we esteem Him not.

VII. A WAITING GOD. "Behold, I stand at the door," etc. Wonderful patience! Love that passeth knowledge! His arms are loaded with the dainties of the kingdom, apples and pomegranates from the King's gardens, and bread of life. Oh, let us draw the bolts that He may come in and sup with us!

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

There is something unaccountable and unnatural about sin, which, if we were not the victims of its power every day, would startle and make us horribly afraid. If we merely heard of it as existing in some other of God's worlds, we should doubt whether the report could be true. We should demand more than the usual amount of testimony before believing so unnatural a story, and when it was proved, should not cease to wonder, and to ask what cause beyond our experience had brought to pass a thing so marvellous.

I. IT PREVENTS MEN FROM PURSUING WHAT THEY OWN TO BE THE HIGHEST GOOD. There is a passage of Ovid where a person in a conflict between reason and desire is made to say, "Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor"; and in a like strain we hear Paul, or rather the man made aware of the bondage of sin saying through him, "That which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not, but what I hate, that I do." So true to human nature such words are, that no one ever thought of them as being misrepresentations of the real state of man. Everywhere we see examples of this sacrifice of a higher good to a lower, of acknowledged greater happiness to less, of the improvement of the mind to the enjoyments of the body, of future hopes to present pleasure, of an object of desire felt to be praiseworthy and exalted to one which is base and low and sure to be followed by remorse. We find this cleaving to the best of men and to the wisest: the influences of the Gospel may weaken but never remove this tendency. It belongs to mankind. Is there not, now, something very strange in this fatal proclivity toward the low, in this constant, wide-spread, unalterable folly of choosing wrong within the moral sphere of action. Suppose we found the same obliquity of judgment and choice elsewhere — that, for instance, a scholar, aware what was the right meaning of a passage according to the laws of thought and language, deliberately chose a wrong meaning; or a merchant, acquainted with the laws of trade, undertook an adventure with his eyes open, from which only ruin was to be expected; or a general, patriotic and discerning, adopted a plan of battle which all his experience had condemned as sure to end in his defeat: should we not regard such a person as a kind of moral prodigy, as fit to be put away in a museum of morbid psychology among the deranged men who have believed themselves to he two persons, or that their souls had gone from their bodies?

II. IT IS NOT DEPENDENT ON A WEAK CAPACITY, BUT THE VERY HIGHEST INTELLECTS ARE OFTEN EMPLOYED IN ITS SERVICE. It is indeed true, that sagacity and folly will differ in their ways of sinning and of escaping detection. An absurd, or ill-contrived, crime will be committed by a boy or a half-witted person, and not by a man of shrewdness. Whence it may happen that the criminals in a penitentiary may be, in the average, below the ordinary range of intellect. In other words, the vigour of mind will show itself, either by abstaining from certain crimes, or by committing them in such a way that they will not be brought to light. But we do not find that the highest abilities keep men from sinning, from a life of pleasure, from deadly selfishness, from feelings which carry with them their own sting. Great minds lie like wrecks all along the course of life; either they disbelieve against evidence, or give themselves up to monstrous pleasures, or destroy the welfare of society by their self-will, or gnaw upon themselves with a deadly hatred of others.

III. ITS EXISTENCE INVOLVES THE CONTRADICTION OF THE FREEDOM AND THE SLAVERY OF THE WILL. This is but another aspect of the truth which we have already considered — that the soul steadily chooses in some strange way an inferior good before a superior; but it is too important a view of our nature not to be noticed by itself. Mankind, in choosing the evil, have been an enigma to themselves and to the philosophers who have studied human nature. We see our nature exercise its freedom in various ways, — choosing now a higher good in preference to a lower, and now a lower before a higher, — doing this over and over within the sphere of earthly things, yet when it looks the supreme good full in the face unable to choose Him, unable to love Him, until, in some great crisis which we call conversion, and which is as marvellous as sin is, we find the soul acting with recovered power, acting out itself, and soaring in love to the fountain and life of its being. It is as if a balance should tell every small weight with minutest accuracy, and when a large weight was put on, should refuse to move at all. It is as if the planets should feel each other's attraction hut be insensible to the force of the central sun. Is not sin then as unaccountable as it is deep seated and spreading in our nature?

IV. IT HAS A POWER OF RESISTING ALL KNOWN MOTIVES TO A BETTER LIFE. This, again, is only another form of the remark, that we are kept by sin from pursuing our highest good; but under this last head we view man as opposing God's plan for his salvation, while the other is more general. Here we see how causeless and unreasonable are the movements of sin, even when its bitterness has been experienced, and the way of recovery been made known. The way in which the Gospel comes to us is the most inviting possible — through a person who lived a life like ours on earth, and came into tender sympathy with us; through a concrete exhibition of everything true and good, not through doctrine and abstract statement. It has been the religion of our fathers, and of the holy in all time. It is venerable in our eyes. It is God's voice to us. Where else can so many motives, such power of persuasion be found; and yet where else, in what other sphere where motives operate, is there so little success? Even Christians who have given themselves to the Gospel confess that all these weighty considerations often fail to move them; that they stand still or turn backwards a great part of their lives rather than make progress. So marvellous is the power of sin to deaden the force of motives to virtue, even in the minds of the best persons the world contains.

V. IT CAN BLIND THE MIND TO TRUTH AND EVIDENCE. Of this we see numberless examples in daily life. We see men who have been accustomed to judge of evidence within the same sphere in which religion moves, that of moral and historical proof, rejecting the Gospel and afterwards acknowledging that they were wilfully prejudiced, that their objections ought to have had no weight with a candid mind. We see prejudice against the Gospel lurking under some plausible but false plea, which the man has never taken the pains to examine, although immense personal interests are involved. We see men rejecting the Gospel unthinkingly, repeating some stale argument scarcely worth refutation, as if a great matter like the welfare of the soul might be trifled with, and made light of. It is strange, too, how quick the change is, when for some reason the moral or religious sensibilities are awakened after long slumber, how quick, I say, the change is from scepticism, or denial of the Gospel, or even hostility, to a state of belief. Multitudes of intelligent men have passed through such a conversion, and have felt ever afterwards that truth and evidence were sufficient, but that their souls were in a dishonest state. Now, how is this? Is this a new prejudice which has seized upon them, at their conversion, and has their candid scepticism given way to dishonest faith; or did sin, — that which in a thousand ways, through hope and fear, through indolence, through malignity, through love of pleasure, blinds and stupefies, did sin destroy their power of being candid before?

VI. THE INCONSISTENCY OF SIN IS MARVELLOUS IN THIS RESPECT THAT WE ALLOW AND EXCUSE IN OURSELVES WHAT WE CONDEMN IN OTHERS. Men seem sometimes to have no moral sense, so open are their violations of morality, and so false their justifications of their conduct. And yet, when they come to pass censure upon others, they show such a quickness to discern little faults, such an acquaintance with the rule of duty, such an unwillingness to make allowances, that you would think a new faculty had been imparted to their minds. These severe critics of others are all the while laying up decisions and precedents against themselves, yet when their cases come on, the judges reverse their own judgments. They condemn men unsparingly for sins to which they are not tempted, although the radical principle in their own and in others sins is confessedly the same. Marvellous inconsistency! Strange that the same mind balances between two standards of conduct so long. Why does not the man, whose own rules condemn himself, begin to sentence himself, or to excuse and pardon others? Is not this an unnatural state of mind; impossible, save on the supposition that it is effected by some strange perversion of its judgments?

(T. D. Woolsey.)

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