I. WHAT ARE NOT A COUNTRY'S SAFEGUARDS, THOUGH OFTEN THOUGHT TO BE. Not commerce, or Tyre would not have fallen. Not art, or Greece would never have perished. Not strong political organization, or Rome would have continued. Not religious profession, or Jerusalem and Catholic Rome would not have suffered the disasters that befell them. Not ancient renown, or Egypt would have stood fast. All these things have been relied on, and especially vast armies, but they have one and all been tested and have proved ropes of sand, battlements taken away because they are not the Lord's. Therefore note -
II. WHAT IS A COUNTRY'S SAFEGUARD? There is but one answer, and that is righteousness. It, and it alone, exalteth a nation. The form of government, whether monarchical or republican, matters not, whether political power be in the hands of the many or the few, but the character of the people - their possession or not possession of the "fear of the Lord." Whilst Israel possessed this she was impregnable. "A thousand fell at her side, and," etc.
III. WHAT, THEREFORE, IS TRUE PATRIOTISM? Not alone adding to the material wealth or the intellectual force of the nation, not alone philanthropy or political energy, - none of these things are to be held in light esteem; but the truest patriotism, and it is one which all can exhibit, is the cultivation of godly character, that fear of God which lies at the basis of all moral excellence whatsoever. Yes, not for our own salvation's sake alone, but for our country's sake, even as for Christ's sake, let us seek to resemble him, breathe his Spirit, manifest his character, copy his example, and spread abroad those true principles of national well being which, by his life and death, he taught us. - C.
As I live, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts.I. THE DIVINE OATHS RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE EXHIBIT AND DECLARE THE GLORY OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER.
1. As they show forth the infinite condescension of God. He has addressed us not only in the language of authority and goodness, but also actually condescended to confirm His own true sayings by the most solemn oaths, and this He has done, not only upon some one particular occasion, but in numerous instances, and in every variety of form. Sometimes, Jehovah swears by one or the other of His natural perfections. The Lord hath sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength. At other times He swears by one or the other of His moral perfections, as, "Once have I sworn by My holiness." At other times by His great name, but the most expressive, as well as the most usual form is that in the text, "As I live, saith the Lord God."
2. The Divine oaths furnish a sublime and awful manifestation of the sincere earnestness of the Divine mind in what He declares unto us in His Word, with such an attestation.
3. The Divine oaths exhibit also the benevolent solicitude of God for the welfare of the unworthy creatures whom He thus addresses; or as the apostle expresses it, "the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man."
4. The Divine oaths intimate the unchangeableness of the Divine mind in relation to those arrangements in His natural and moral government which were in that manner established and confirmed.
II. THE DIVINE OATHS ALSO SERVE TO ILLUSTRATE THE MORAL CHARACTER OF MAN, AND TO EXERCISE A POWERFUL INFLUENCE ON HIS MORAL AND SPIRITUAL INTERESTS.
1. They strongly corroborate the fact that the human heart is corrupt and alienated from God. In speaking to His holy angels, "who excel in strength," and are swift to do His will, an oath in confirmation of His Word is altogether unnecessary. They know His character too well ever to entertain the slightest suspicion of His truthfulness; but in dealing with fallen and apostate man, He knew it was necessary to confirm His own faithful words by most solemn oaths, pledging His own eternal existence on their truth.
2. They serve also as fearful warnings of the perilous condition of the impenitent and unbelieving soul. Could not an angel have reasonably supposed that in the face of all the declarations and oaths of Jehovah, recorded in the Bible, unbelief on the part of man would have been a moral impossibility? After all, unbelief is the most common sin in the world, and the sin on account of which men generally feel the least compunction; the sin on account of which the Son of God marvelled and was grieved, — men neither marvel nor grieve. Just as if it was a thing of no moment to treat the eternal God as a liar and a perjurer! Be not deceived, God is not mocked.
3. They afford the strongest encouragement to believers in their onward progress to heaven. Christians, during their earthly pilgrimage, have to contend against many things in themselves and in the world, which are calculated to exert a most depressing influence upon their hearts. But they are, nevertheless, favoured with abundant sources of consolation in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and in the great and precious truths and promises of the Gospel "God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of the promises the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us." The firm stability of the ordinances of the covenant made with Noah, is employed to illustrate the stability and unchangeableness of the covenant of redemption. The mountains and the hills are referred to as fit emblems of its eternal immutability.
(W. Rees, D. D.)
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