Because of the LORD's loving devotion we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
I. THE LORD'S GRACIOUS ATTRIBUTES. These are described as
(1) his mercies and
(2) his compassions.
It is the glory of revelation that it makes known a personal God, invested with the noblest moral attributes. The heathen saw in the ca]amities of cities and nations, either the caprice of angry deities or the working of inexorable fate. The Hebrews saw the presence, interest, and superintending providence of a God of righteousness, holiness, and grace,
II. THE UNFAILING EXERCISE OF THESE ATTRIBUTES FOR THE RELIEF AND SALVATION OF MEN. If "we are not consumed," it is not through any excellence or merit of ours, but because of the forbearance and pity of him who does not willingly afflict the children of me. We tempt the Lord by our ingratitude and rebellion to lay aside his compassion, but he is greater and better than our highest and purest thoughts of him: "His compassions fail not."
III. THE ADVANTAGES MEN ENJOY THROUGH THE EXERCISE OF THESE ATTRIBUTES. There is
(1) a negative advantage - we are not consumed; and
(2) a positive advantage - we are saved and blessed.
The language of the prophet receives its highest illustration in the dispensation of the gospel. It is in Christ Jesus that the attributes here celebrated appear in their greatest glory, and secure the largest and most lasting results of good for men. Hence the privilege of listening to the glad tidings. And hence the obligation under which all Christians are laid to extol the mercies and compassions of God, revealed in his Son, and practically securing for all who believe the blessings of forgiveness, acceptance, and eternal life. - T.
I. The application of this to the case of the Jews is very obvious, considering their multiplied provocations, and God's multiplied mercies toward them; but we may well consider it in its application to ourselves, for AS SINNERS WE HAVE ALL DESERVED TO BE CONSUMED. "The wages of sin is death." "Sin is the transgression of the law." Sin therefore is man practically separating himself from God, refusing to love Him, to serve Him, preferring to go with the great enemy of God and godliness, and to be led by him according to his evil will, and to do the vile work which he commands. Thus sin is no trifle. We have all sinned in our different ways. In how many ways, how many times we have abused the faculties which God hath given us, whether of body, soul, or spirit! We have perverted the energies which should have been employed in serving Him, into so many weapons of rebellion wherewith we dared to fight against God. And what have we deserved? Surely to be consumed, to be cut off in our sins, to be separated from God forever. Then how is it that we are here spared as we are? It is not of our merits, but of the Lord's mercies. This explains His wonderful forbearance towards sinners while living in sin, forming habits of Sinning, and acting out those habits in innumerable acts, and deeds, and thoughts of a sinful character, doing, in fact, nothing to please God.
It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.I. MAN'S WHOLE LIFE, BODILY, MENTAL, AND SPIRITUAL, IS SUSTAINED BY THE MERCY OF THE LORD.
1. It is of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed bodily. Consider the waste constantly going on, etc. Set against this the powers of digestion and assimilation, and the constant supply of food.
2. It is of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed intellectually. Consider the wear and tear of the brain, the continual evolution of thought, the daily anxiety of mind; and against this set the all-renewing energy of the Holy Ghost, who gives strength day by day, repairing the waste of faculty and renewing the resources of power.
3. It is of the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed morally. Consider our sins, our daily provocations, our constant obduracy of heart. Why aces lie withhold the stroke of righteous vengeance? The answer is, in His mercy! Very beautiful is the expression, "They are new every morning" — new just as we want them — standing at the very threshold of the day to help us through all work and trial, all darkness and light.
II. To know what the mercy is, consider WHAT IS MEANT BY CONSUMPTION. Figure a tree that is diseased at the roots; a man who is daffy pining away; a soul wasting! From such consumption there is no protection but in God's mercy. Show the vanity of all human schemes. Call the attention of Christians to the fact that every day is provided for; if the trial comes daily, so does the mercy. Human preservation is not merely a question of science or prudence; underlying all are the "compassions" which are "new every morning."
(J. Parker," D. D.)
II. HIS MERCIES ARE TO BE TRACED UP TO HIS COMPASSIONS; even "because His compassions fail not." His mercies are the streams of which His compassions are the source. His compassions are in the essential goodness of our God, prompting Him to manifest His mercies in a way consistent with His glorious perfections. Of His compassion to guilty sinners He sent His Son to take man's nature, to become man's substitute, to be his surety, to suffer the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Thus His compassions prompting, His mercies can flow freely through the mediation of Christ. God can be just, and yet justify the ungodly, believing in Jesus for His sake. Hence, if partakers of His mercies in Christ Jesus, we are quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; we are justified by faith, and so have peace with God, who were guilty before God, under condemnation, deserving hell. We, who were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, are made the children of God by adoption and grace. We are being trained and educated by the Holy Spirit for dwelling with God in heaven; our trials and sufferings are all being sanctified for our souls' profit. Thus how great the compassions of our God! what a never-failing source of mercies ever flowing and overflowing!
III. THESE MERCIES, SO TRACED UP TO THE COMPASSIONS OF OUR GOD, ARE ALL SECURED BY HIS FAITHFULNESS. Every morning brings a new or a renewed need to every man of the mercies and compassions of God. The coming day will bring its duties and its trials, its difficulties, its dangers, its temptations, it may be its sufferings. For all these we need new or renewed grace. The grace that was sufficient yesterday will not serve for today. We need like grace, or more grace today, and this our God in covenant is ready to supply. "As thy day is, so shall thy strength be." It is morning. "Son, go work today in My vineyard," the Lord of the vineyard is saying; then, Lord, I must look to Thee to give working strength, otherwise I faint and fail. But "He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength." Thus out of weakness we are made strong. Every working Christian, as he goeth forth, to his work and to his labour until the evening, can say or sing of God's mercies and compassions. "They are new every morning." But again, it is morning; a voice from heaven is saying, "My child, today go not out to work; stay at home and suffer according to the will of God; commune with thine own heart upon thy bed, and be still, and know that I am God." Here, then, is harder duty than outdoor work. But here again the mercies and compassions of our God are found "new every morning"; the throne of grace is nearer to us than before; these trials draw the soul nearer to God, and into closer communion with Him; there is more leisure now for retirement and devotion, or if pain and weakness interrupt, there is by the medium of pain a reminder of Christ's own sufferings and their saving object. He can make His strength manifestly perfect in this felt weakness. Thus the day of suffering, though it may seem long and tedious, may ye short and sweet in the experience of His mercies.
(John Hambleton, M. A.)
1. In the first place, it gave him a true view of Divine government. Jeremiah was brought to understand two things about the government of God. He was brought to understand that God's government is tender. What words do you suppose Jeremiah connected with the government of God? Why these two beautiful words, each a piece of music, "Mercies," "Compassions." A man can only get into that view of government by living the deepest possible life. A God all strength would be a monster. A God throned on ivory, ruling the universe with a sceptre of mere power, could never establish Himself in the confidence and love and trust of His creatures. Man cannot be ruled and governed by mere power, fear, overwhelming, dominating, crushing strength and force. So we find David saying, "Power belongeth unto God: unto Thee also, O Lord, belongeth mercy." Power in the hands of mercy, Omnipotence impregnated by all the tenderness of pity. That is the true exposition of Divine nature which opens up the fatherliness, motherliness, mercifulness, and compassion of God's great heart.
2. This discipline wrought in Jeremiah the conviction that God's government was minute. Speaking of God's mercies, he says, "They are new every morning." Morning mercies — daffy bread. That is it. God shutting us up within a day and training us a moment at a time. The Psalmist said, "Thy mercies have been ever of old." And another singer said, "Thy mercies are new every morning." Is there no contradiction there? Ever of old — every morning! Old as duration, new as morning; old as human existence, new as the coming summer. These are all inconsistencies that mark our life. Jeremiah having given this view of the Divine government, tells us two things about discipline. He tells us, in the first place, the goodness of waiting: it is good for a man to wait. Observe you: wait for God. I am not called upon to wait because somebody has put a great waggon across the road; I might get that out of the way. But if God had set an angel there, I must make distinctions. There is a waiting that is indolence; there is a waiting that is sheer faithlessness; there is a waiting that comes of weakness. This is the true waiting, — wanting to get on, resolute about progress, and yet having a notion that God is just before us teaching patience. Jeremiah tells us this second thing about the Divine government. It is good for a man to bear the yoke. Commend me to the man who has been through deep waters, through very dark places, through treacherous, serpent-haunted roads, and who has yet come out with a cheerful heart, mellow, chastened, subdued, and who speaks tenderly of the mercy of God through it all. And that man I may trust with my heart's life. A right acceptance of God's schooling, God's rod, God's judgment, and God's mercy, mingled together, will cause us to become learned in Divine wisdom, tender in Divine feeling, gentle and charitable in all social judgment; good men whilst we are here, and always waiting, even in the midst of our most diligent service, to be called up into the more fully revealed presence and the still more cloudless light.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
II. A REASON FOR THE DIVINE CONDUCT. "Because His compassions fail not." Thus our hopes are centred in the unchangeableness of God's mercy and love. Other things do change. The sunshine gives place to the blackness of the tempest. The life and bloom of spring and summer pass away into the fading beauties of autumn and the cold sterility of winter. The health of childhood, of youth and manhood, soon yields to the power of sickness, and perishes beneath the blight of death. Prosperity is oftentimes overcast with the gloomy shadows of adversity. The smiles of peace are changed into the frowns of war. Promises and compacts are broken — superseded by the avarice of selfishness, by the grasping aims of ambition, by the caprice of pride, and by the tyranny of despotism. But the "compassions" of God "fail not." They are ever new, and ever abiding.
III. DUTIES SUGGESTED BY THE TEXT.
1. What more consistent and natural than thankfulness and gratitude?
2. Trust in God, and not in man, is another duty founded upon the constancy and immutability of God's compassion. There is something sublime, as well as consolatory, in trust in God: sublime, as respects its object, so infinitely superior to any other in the glory and majesty of its nature, its eternity and perfectibility; consolatory, inasmuch as the human mind is cheered and strengthened with the conviction, founded upon the most certain evidence, that "they who trust in the Lord shall never be confounded." And herein, too, lies the special privilege of the Christian.
3. Another duty presented to us by the text is repentance. And what so calculated to effect this glorious result as the unfailing compassions of the Almighty?
(W. D. Horwood.)I. THE PRESERVATION. It is ascribed in this passage to three attributes.
1. Mercy. Many "mercies" here referred to, for there are many manifestations of the same mercy — e.g., there is atoning mercy, forgiving mercy, sanctifying mercy, and preserving mercy — all of which are combined in the salvation of the believer.
2. Compassion. This differs from mercy, because it does not, like mercy, necessarily imply sin.(1) It fails not. In it there is neither fickleness nor exhaustion (Hebrews 13:8).(2) It is new every morning. There are fresh mercies every day — daily bread, daily power for work, daily comforts, daily privileges of family prayer, etc.
3. Faithfulness. Faithfulness implies unchanging love. There may be faithfulness to a covenant, faithfulness to a promise, and faithfulness to a person. The latter seen in the faithfulness of a mother or nurse.
II. THE EFFECT OF THIS PRESERVATION ON THE MIND OF THE PROPHET. Seen in his declaration for the present, and determination for the future.
(E. Hoare, M. A.)John Bunyan says, all the flowers in God's garden are double; there is no single mercy; nay, they are not only double flowers, but they are manifold flowers. There are many flowers upon one stalk, and many flowers in one flower. You shall think you have but one mercy, but you shall find it to be a whole flock of mercies. Our beloved is unto us a bundle of myrrh, a cluster of camphire. When you lay hold upon one golden link of the chain of grace, you pull, pull, pull, but lo! as long as your hand can draw there are fresh "linked sweetnesses" of love still to come. Manifold mercies! Like the drops of a lustre, which reflect a rainbow of colours when the sun is glittering upon them, and each one, when turned in different ways, from its prismatic form, shows all the varieties of colours, so the mercy of God is one and yet many, the same, yet ever changing, a combination of all the beauties of love blended harmoniously together.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Mark Guy Pearse.)
His compassions fail not.Watts is enthusiastic in his praise of the Divine grace; but a deeper note is sounded in the Olney hymns, as, for example, in that beginning with the line —Hark, my soul, it is the Lord.In his new consciousness of the love of God, the elegist is first struck by its amazing persistence. Probably we should render the twenty-second verse thus —The Lord's mercies, verily they cease not, etc.There are two masons for this emendation. First, the momentary transition to the plural "we" is harsh and improbable. Second — and this is the principal consideration — the balance of the phrases, which is so carefully observed throughout this elegy, is upset by the common rendering, but restored by the emendation. The topic of the triplet in which the disputed passage occurs is the amazing persistence of God's goodness to His suffering children. The proposed alteration is in harmony with this. The thought here presented to us rests on the truth of the eternity and essential changelessness of God. We cannot think of Him as either fickle or failing; to do so would be to cease to think of Him as God. If He is merciful at all He cannot be merciful only spasmodically, erratically, or temporarily. The elegist declares that the reason why God's mercies are not consumed is that His compassions do not fail. Thus he goes behind the kind actions of God to their originating motives. To a man in the condition of the writer of this poem of personal confidences the Divine sympathy is the one fact in the universe of supreme importance. So will it be to every sufferer who can assure himself of the truth of it. But is this only a consolation for the sorrowing? The pathos, the very tragedy of human life on earth, should make the sympathy of God the most precious fact of existence to all mankind. Portia rightly reminds Shylock that "we all do look for mercy"; but if so, the spring of mercy, the Divine compassion, must be the one source of true hope for every soul of man. Further, the elegist declares that the special form taken by these unceasing mercies of God is daily renewal The love of God is constant — one changeless Divine attribute; but the manifestations of that love are necessarily successive and various, according to the successive and various needs of His children. The living God is an active God, who works in the present as effectually as He worked in the past. There is another side to this truth. It is not sufficient to have received the grace of God once for all. If "He giveth more grace," it is because we need more grace. This is a stream that must be ever flowing into the soul, not the storage of a tank filled once for all and left to serve for a lifetime. Therefore the channel must be kept constantly clear, or the grace will fall to reach us, although in itself it never runs dry. There is something cheering in the poet's idea of the morning as the time when these mercies of God are renewed. God's mercies do not fail, are not interrupted. The emphasis is on the thought that no day is without God's new mercies, not even the day of darkest trouble; and further, there is the suggestion that God is never dilatory in coming to our aid. He does not keep us waiting and wearying while He tarries. He is prompt and early with His grace. The idea may be compared with that of the promise to those who seek God "early," literally, "in the morning" (Proverbs 8:17). Or we may think of the night as the time of repose, when we are oblivious of God's goodness, although even through the hours of darkness He who neither slumbers nor sleeps is constantly watching over His unconscious children. Then in the morning there dawns on us a fresh perception of His goodness. To the notion of the morning renewal of the mercies of God the poet appends a recognition of His great faithfulness. This is an additional thought. Faithfulness is more than compassion. There is a strength and a stability about the idea that goes further to insure confidence. The conclusion drawn from these considerations is given in an echo from the Psalms —The Lord is my portion.The words are old and well worn; but they obtain a new meaning when adopted as the expression of a new experience. The lips have often chanted them in the worship of the sanctuary. Now they are the voice of the soul, of the very life.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)I. GOD HAS THE ORDERING OF BOTH WHAT HIS PEOPLE FEEL AND WHAT THEY ARE KEPT FROM FEELING; that they are cast down, and yet not destroyed; afflicted, and yet not consumed. All their times are in His hand (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6). He orders what affliction shall befall any one of His children, and in what manner; to what degree it shall prevail, how long continue, and what shall be the issue (1 Samuel 2:6; Job 38:11). This is agreeable to His nature, and His relation to them; to His love and promise to His people, and to the design He is carrying on by all His dealings with them, which is to fit them for the kingdom He hath prepared for them (Psalm 103:8, 9, 14; Isaiah 57:16). In judgment He remembers mercy, correcting in measure, and staying the rough wind in the day of His east wind (Isaiah 27:8).
II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD UNDER THEIR HEAVIEST SUFFERINGS, ARE TO LOOK TO THE FAR GREATER MISERY WHICH GOD MAY RIGHTEOUSLY INFLICT UPON THEM FOR THEIR SINS. Think of the misery due to sin, as it includes —
1. The loss or being deprived of the image and Spirit of God, being abandoned by Him, and left to live without Him in the world.
2. It is part of the misery due to sin, to be cast out of the favour of God, and abhorred by Him.
3. A being stript of all external comforts, of whatever might make life easy or desirable; a deprivation of all such things, is our due upon the account of sin.
4. Having the body filled with pain and torment, making its beauty to consume away as a moth-eaten garment, is part of the punishment due to sin.
5. Having the soul filled with horror, belongs to the punishment of sin; which some have felt to that degree, as to extort from them that doleful cry (Psalm 88:15).
6. Being cut off by death, and cast into hell, is the destruction due to sin.
III. Such is the evil of sin, and so much of it is found even in saints themselves, that SHOULD GOD BE STRICT TO MARK INIQUITY, THEY WOULD HAVE NOTHING TO EXPECT BUT TO BE CONSUMED.
1. Such is the evil of sin, that it deserves this. It is the abominable thing that God hates; and well it may, as by it His majesty and justice are affronted, His power and wisdom disowned, His goodness despised; His holiness reproached, His truth contradicted, His promises and threatenings slighted, as if His favours were not valuable, nor His wrath to be feared.
2. So much of this is found in saints themselves, as would expose them to destruction, should God deal with them according to it.
IV. It is TO THE DIVINE MERCY AND COMPASSIONS THAT EVEN THE PEOPLE OF GOD OWE THEIR PRESERVATION FROM BEING CONSUMED.
1. The evidence of this is obvious.(1) As it is not owing to any worth nor power of their own, not to anything they could do for God, or do against Him.(2) Nor is their preservation owing to this, that God is unacquainted with the sins of His people, or makes light of them.(3) Nor is their preservation owing to God's want of power to punish to the height of the desert of sin.(4) He has given dreadful proofs of His power on His implacable enemies; and that His people are otherwise treated, is because His mercies and compassions fail not. It was mercy that spared them in their unregenerate state, though they were by nature children of wrath, even as others (Ephesians 2:3). It was mercy in God that provided us an all-sufficient Saviour, even His own Son (John 3:16). It was mercy that from eternity designed their recovery whom God is pleased to set apart for Himself; and according to it, in the appointed season, He called them into the kingdom of His dear Son.
2. What kind of mercy it is.(1) It is most free and sovereign, This is His own declaration (Exodus 33:19; Romans 9:15).(2) It is rich and full; large and abundant in the fountain, and extending to all His people.(3) It is most wonderful mercy; considering by whom it is exercised, towards whom, against what provocations, in what manner, and to what ends. Considering by whom exercised. How astonishing is it that the High and Holy One, who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, will attend to the preservation of any in this lower world! Considering to whom it is exercised, to men, to sinners; recovered indeed, but very imperfect; such whom He fetched out of nothing by His power, and from a state of guilt by His grace. Considering against what provocations, even from those towards whom it is exercised. How often do we offend our God, while preserved by Him? How many, how great are our sins? How grievous to Him, and how plain before Him? How worthy of destruction are we, and yet He spares us! Considering in what manner it is exercised by God, even with delight. Judgment is His strange work. Considering to what end it is exercised, namely, in order to their salvation, for them or in them, preparatory to their being with Him in heaven, the blissful state to which by mercy they are designed.(4) It is most seasonable mercy. How often has my life been in danger, and yet God has appeared for me, when unable to help myself, and the help of fellow creatures was tried in vain, in how remarkable a juncture did He take my case into His own hands; proving thereby that to Him alone belong the issues from death?(5) The mercy of God, to which saints owe their preservation, is distinguishing, such as He did not exercise towards apostate spirits.(6) The mercy of God is never-failing (Psalm 103:17). This makes up the greatest part of His name, and what He esteems His glory (Exodus 34:6).
3. The manner in which this mercy is exercised.(1) Through a Mediator, for His sake, and upon His account.(2) In a covenant way.
(Amos R. Wells.)
Christian Age.Many times Captain Holm had crossed the Atlantic Ocean without losing a spar, but at last disaster overtook him. He says, "On one voyage my ship was struck by lightning in mid-ocean. The bolt came down the mizzenmast through the cabin and passed into the hold, leaving a long black scar on the mast as it went. We were cotton loaded, and we had every reason to fear the horrors of a ship on fire at sea. But the Lord in His mercy spared us, and we came safely to port. When, a little later, men came on board to make some repairs, I went into the cabin one day, just as the painter was raising his brush to paint out the lightning mark on the mast. 'Stop! stop!' I said; 'don't you put a brushful of paint on that mast. So long as I am master of this ship, that scar on the mast shall stand, so that I may never forget how good the Lord was to save us when my cotton-loaded ship was struck by lightning:"
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