Malachi 3:16
At that time, those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them. So a scroll of remembrance was written before Him regarding those who feared the LORD and honored His name.
Christian Communion EncouragedSketches of Four Hundred SermonsMalachi 3:16-17
Christian ConversationG. B. F. Hallock.Malachi 3:16-17
Christian ConversationPulpit TreasuryMalachi 3:16-17
Christian ConverseA. Brunton, D. D.Malachi 3:16-17
Christian Fellowship in a Backsliding ChurchE. D. Solomon.Malachi 3:16-17
Christian FriendshipF. W. Robertson.Malachi 3:16-17
Christian FriendshipE. J. Hardy, M. A.Malachi 3:16-17
Christian IntercourseEssex RemembrancerMalachi 3:16-17
Christian IntercourseMontagu Villiers, M. A.Malachi 3:16-17
Christianity, a Social ReligionMalachi 3:16-17
Christians in ConversationA. Smellie.Malachi 3:16-17
DiscourseJames Begg, A. M.Malachi 3:16-17
Genuine ReligionHomilistMalachi 3:16-17
God and the FloodHomilistMalachi 3:16-17
Godly Fear the Distinguishing Character of BelieversW. Mayors, M. A.Malachi 3:16-17
God's Book of RemembranceD. Merson, M. A. , B. D.Malachi 3:16-17
God's People in a Godless AgeN. Armstrong.Malachi 3:16-17
Love to the Name of the LordThe PreacherMalachi 3:16-17
MemoryA. P. Peabody.Malachi 3:16-17
Men that Feared the LordS. Barnard.Malachi 3:16-17
Men Who Feared the LordA. Roberts, M. A.Malachi 3:16-17
Religious ConversationC. J. Vaughan, D. D.Malachi 3:16-17
Religious ConversationC. Lowell.Malachi 3:16-17
Religious Conversation an Evidence of the General Christian Temper and SpiritArchbishop Becker.Malachi 3:16-17
Religious Conversation RecommendedJ. Abernethy, M. A.Malachi 3:16-17
Religious FellowshipJoseph Parker, D. D.Malachi 3:16-17
Speaking to One Another of Holy ThingsT. K. Arnold.Malachi 3:16-17
The Book of God's PeersJ. G. Greenhough.Malachi 3:16-17
The Book of RemembranceH. G. Parrish, B. A.Malachi 3:16-17
The Christian's Thoughts of GodGeorge Weight, B. A.Malachi 3:16-17
The Communion of SaintsHenry Cleare.Malachi 3:16-17
The Delineation of God's PeopleHugh Allen, M. A.Malachi 3:16-17
The Faithful in Dark DaysBaldwin Brown, B. A.Malachi 3:16-17
The Fear of God a Power-PrincipleH. M. Dubose.Malachi 3:16-17
The Inner Circle of Church LifeWatchword.Malachi 3:16-17
The List of the Loyal OnesR. Tuck Malachi 3:16, 17
The Lord's Book of RemembranceBaldwin Brown, B. A.Malachi 3:16-17
The Lord's PeopleG. Maxwell, B. A.Malachi 3:16-17
Threefold Aspect of True SainthoodF. W. Brown.Malachi 3:16-17
Genuine ReligionD. Thomas Malachi 3:16-18

A book of remembrance was written before him .... They shall be mine... in that day when I make up my jewels. Reference is to those persons who "by their pious discourse confirmed each other in goodness, and armed themselves against the impressions which wicked and doubting suggestions might make upon their minds." "God took special notice of what these pious persons did and said: it was as safely laid up in his memory as if it had been catered into a register, in order to be produced at the day of judgment, to their praise and honour." It is possible that the reference of these verses may be to "the growth of something like a brotherhood or order, not claiming or professing the inspiration of the older schools of the prophets, not entering, as they had done, on any vigorous effort at correcting the corruptions that were eating into the nation's life, but bearing a silent witness by lives of holiness and devotion, associated by the bonds of prayer and mutual love, handing down from generation to generation the tradition of higher truths and better hopes." Illustration may be taken from the Chasidim, or Brothers of Mercy, in the time of Judas Maccabaeus, or the Essenes of the New Testament period.

I. GOD'S LOYAL ONES ARE THEY WHO KEEP HIS HONOUR IN IMPERILLED TIMES. Compare the seven thousand in Elijah's day who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

1. The loyal ones may have no public spheres. But the truest work for God is done in the private spheres of home and social intercourse.

2. The loyal ones may have no voice with which to testify. But the mightiest of all arguments is a godly life; the strongest of all persuasions is the winsomeness of a sanctified character. Our witness may have to be rendered in our simply standing aloof, and that may be the very holiest reproach. It may be ours thus simply, but persistently, to keep the honor of God's

(1) Name,

(2) claims,

(3) Word, as these are imperilled by the self-seeking of our times.

II. GOD'S PRESERVING HAND IS EVER UPON HIS LOYAL AND FAITHFUL ONES. He is even represented as keeping a list of them before him, so that by no possibility shall the interests of any one of them he forgotten. And his personal concern is intimated by his speaking of them as his "jewels." The term suggests:

1. Their value in his sight.

2. Their variety; they are of different colours and qualities and tints.

3. Their safety. They are all there in that day. Jesus said of his disciples, "None of them is lost." - R.T.

Then they that feared the Lord.
The events which, from their importance and prominence in the sacred annals, may be classed as marking successive epochs in the development of the Divine purpose, were preceded by periods of conflicting moral forces and unpropitious influences. But the darkest moral night has witnessed the birth-throes of giant thoughts, mad the conception of mightiest schemes for the furtherance of human weal. The state of the Israelitish people contemporaneous with the events detailed in our text was in some respects the saddest in all their history. But despite all this the world was wheeling into the light of Messiah's day. The apostasy of those days, and the signs of coming wonders discerned upon the face of the spiritual heavens, caused all who feared the Lord to speak often one to another, that they might keep themselves mindful of the evil forces around them, mindful of the near approach of the Ancient of days, and that an effectual door might be kept open for His royal entrance. These of themselves were but a small and inconsiderable band, yet representatives of eternal truth, and inheritors of richest promises. But God works His highest purposes and reveals His deepest thoughts with the least of human help.

1. We have abundant reason for assuming that the fear of the Lord is a power-principle in the life of grace. This power has and will ever be felt as a regulative influence in the highest and lowest spheres of existence. It has asserted itself in gathering into available shape the dissipated strength of the spiritual and moral worlds, and in elevating man to a standard of purity, and to companionship with the angels of God. There is in nature a force that acts upon every molecule of matter, adjusting each to its proper place and relation, and grouping the whole into uniformity and shape. The fear-principle in the life of grace, in its regulative aspect, is analogous to this mysterious law of nature. It gives outline and motion to every thought and desire that brings the soul to God, produces harmony among the affections, where discord reigns; elevates moral conduct, and accelerates growth in the life of grace. The fear-principle becomes also a cohesive power. It draws into the firmest compact kindred spirits, and unites with the strongest bonds of sympathy those who have a common fear, a common hope, and a common faith. There is a sentiment of patriotism binding together the constituencies of parties and nations, that runs like links of steel through the bosoms of veterans gathered under a common flag — it is reverence for the honour, love for the name of country. And the fear of God — reverence for His law, mad love for His love — binds His people together in allegiance more enduring than earth's strongest ties. The fear of the Lord also has resistive energy, for it wages ceaseless warfare against the evils environing the individual, or the community of faith. The activity growing out of these states and energies becomes expansive with the highest and broadest significance. Every day of the soul's allegiance to God its frontiers became more invulnerable to attack and invasion. Spiritual growth is cumulative — as eternal as the life of God. And the God-fear power is aggressive.

2. There is a Divine recognition and support of the fear-power developed in the life of grace. "The Lord hearkened and heard." If the claims of earthly loyalty are recognised, and if they command support, how will not loyalty to the highest enlist the prowess of heaven, and the valour and prestige of angelic soldiery.

3. The ultimate end contemplated and achieved in this God-fear power is the glorious exaltation of man in the scale of being. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts."

(H. M. Dubose.)

I. THE PEOPLE MENTIONED. By the "fear of the Lord" we are not to understand slavish fear, which dreads the punishment rather than the sin which is the cause of the punishment; but a filial fear; a holy affection in the soul, whereby it is inclined to reverence God, and to approve of His words and ways. This fear is a new covenant blessing, and the gift of God.

II. THE EMPLOYMENT THEY WERE ENGAGED IN. "They spake often one to another." Of the love of God; and if they had been Christians, we should have added, of the redemption in Christ, and of the operation of the Spirit. He who has a heart for God, has a mouth to speak for Him, as well as to Him.

III. THE HONOUR CONFERRED ON THEM. "The Lord hearkened." This shows God's special regard for them; the notice He takes of them, and His approbation of them. "A book of remembrance was written." In allusion to kings that keep registers (Ezra 4:15).

(S. Barnard.)

Times of prevailing and abounding wickedness are seasons of painful trial to the people of God.


1. They are described as those that "feared the Lord." Distinguish the fear of God which is of nature from that which is of grace. The most wicked and abandoned of men have their seasons of fear. They cannot shake off all dread of Him whose authority they venture to question, and whose laws they presume to disregard. Could we inspect the hearts of those that know not God, we should cease to estimate so highly their boasted felicity. But the true fear of the Lord arises from a different source, and produces different effects. It is that feeling which is spoken of in Scripture, as the beginning of wisdom, as a strong confidence, as a fountain of life. Those who possess it are described as objects of the peculiar favour and gracious protection of God. On account of its importance, as well as its actual effects, it is often put for the whole of religion, and considered as comprehending all its duties. They that fear the Lord are such as have not only the form, but the power of godliness. The fear of God dwells and rules in their souls, it forms their temper, and influences their conduct.

2. "They thought upon His name." It is a mark of the ungodly, that God is not in all his thoughts. But these delight to think upon a name endeared to them as the name of Him who has done wondrously for them. In seasons of painful and afflictive dispensations they delight to think upon God. They delight to recall the gracious thoughts of God towards them. The feeling is not a mere notion of God, or a transient feeling of His power and excellency: it is the habitual feeling of the soul, and a source of holy comfort and heavenly peace amidst the vicissitudes of life: it gives a sanctity even to our worldly employments, and renders our ordinary occupations a means of glorifying God. True believers set God always before them.

3. Those who "feared the Lord" also "Spake often one to another." Conversation is a peculiar gift: it forms the chain of intercourse between man and man, and reminds us that we were born, not to waste our lives in selfish pleasures, or in unprofitable seclusion from the world. The Christian's duty consists, not in a life of separation from his fellow-creatures, but of active exertion for the benefit of all who are placed within the sphere of his influence. In order to promote these important purposes, he is furnished with the gift of speech, and is enabled to communicate with others on their necessities, and to invite from them reciprocal love and friendly intercourse. The talent only becomes valuable when it is employed for useful purposes. We do not say that the conversation of Christians will always be on the subject of religion, but true religion will always give a savour of grace to the conversation. There is a special sort of conversation which Christians enjoy with each other, which is doubtless spoken of in the text. They converse on the things of peace, and things wherewith they may be edified. They delight to speak of the glories of the Redeemer, and the blessedness of His saints. Believers, in their social intercourse, rise superior to the things of time, and converse on those of eternity.

II. THE GRACIOUS ATTENTION WITH WHICH THESE PERSONS WERE REGARDED BY GOD. "The Lord hearkened and heard it." Not only is God about our path, He is intimately present with our thoughts. As amongst men, things notable are recorded in a book of remembrance, so in the Eternal Mind are registered all the thoughts, words, and actions of men. Applications —

1. Examine yourselves, prove yourselves by the test of this text.

2. Be watchful against a trifling, censorious spirit.

3. Study the Scriptures, which present you with such excellent examples.

4. Pray for grace.

(W. Mayors, M. A.)

They were bad times when the prophet Malachi was sent forth upon his message. Profaneness was gone forth throughout the land. Men openly declared it was a vain and unprofitable thing to worship God. Even in those days there was a remnant according to the election of grace.

I. THE CONDUCT OF THESE GODLY MEN. They "feared the Lord." Men may fear God in the sense of trembling at His judgments. The fear meant here is a holy reverential awe of God such as none but His own dear children entertain. These people looked up to Him with the deepest veneration as their Maker and their Saviour. They served Him acceptably with reverence, and "godly fear." They are said to have "thought on the Lord's name." To think upon a name would be, in other cases, to think upon an empty sound. But to think on the Lord's name is a most profitable and delightful meditation. For His name is His nature; what the Lord is called, He is. This name — merciful and gracious — was written on their hearts and their affections. Look at their conduct. Doubtless their whole practice was con sistent; but our attention is particularly drawn to the way in which their tongues were occupied. Their communications were serious and spiritual. They sought each other's company for the sake of sweet communion and profitable conversation. Two things gave value to all this holy conversation. It proceeded from the heart. They talked together in a very anxious and difficult time. It is an easy thing to talk religiously when religion is in fashion.

II. THE GRACIOUS PURPOSES OF GOD RESPECTING THEM. However privately their conversations might be carried on, the ear of God was open to it all. If God hears, we may be sure God does not forget the pious conferences of His people. "A book of remembrance was written." The pious conversation of His servants is ever fresh in God's mind, as if it were written in a book, and the book were spread before Him. What doth God account to be His jewels? Not what men account so. His jewels are His people. The ornament He prizes is the "meek and quiet spirit" of the believer. When shall be the day when He shall make these jewels up? The day of judgment. He will shortly accomplish the number of His elect, and then He will make up His jewels.

III. THE EFFECT ALL THIS WILL HAVE ON THE UNGODLY WORLD. "It is vain to serve God," said that ungodly generation. There is a day at hand, when another estimate shall be formed. When you shall see the Lord make up His jewels, esteeming every man as such who hath feared Him, thought upon Him, and confessed Him — then shall you perceive at last that there is a difference unspeakable between those who serve God, and those who serve Him not. Conclusion — Hold up this text before those of you who profess godliness as containing an example for imitation. You see how those ancient saints delighted in edifying conversation with each other, and how attentive the Lord was to it. Let the text reprove us and stir us up.

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

Malachi gives in this book of prophecy a fivefold picture of God; a four fold picture of the sins of the priesthood; and a sevenfold picture of the sins of the people. God describes Himself as the sovereign God, who sees no reason beyond Himself for the bestowment of any blessing which He chooses to give, God is described as a God who makes Himself known as a master and as a father, to those who see Him as a sovereign, as the electing God. God commissions the prophet to hold Him up as a prayer-answering God. He was the maker of an eternal covenant. He is the God who more than repays the services of His servants. The first great sin of the priests is the offering of polluted bread, etc. They give to Him what they would be ashamed to give to their temporal rulers. Then they were desirous to enrich themselves by the profanation of God's religion. They would not do anything in God's service for nought. They wearied in God's service. They were not only going astray themselves, but causing others to go astray. The sins of the people are idolatry; impurity; a self-justifying spirit. Various dreadful crimes. Asking what profit shall we have if we serve God. Resisting an appealing God. In the text we have God's people in the midst of this apostasy of priests and people, in the midst of this neglect of God, God's people are here described —

I. BY THEIR PRINCIPLES. "They feared the Lord." The wicked, or unconverted, are kept from sin by fear of punishment. The master-principle in the breast of a righteous man is not a slavish fear, but the fear that arises from the knowledge of God, as a forgiving God — that arises from a consciousness that he has received incalculable blessings from God. It is connected with the consciousness that God has pardoned your sins, and has accepted you in the Beloved.


1. Their external employment. "They are speaking to one another." What about? About the moral troubles of their times. In the darkness of this world, Christians are to be known by their speaking to each other.

2. Their internal employment. They thought on the name of their God. The saints spoke of what they had been thinking, and brought it out as the centre of their union, as the nucleus around which they erected themselves.

III. THEIR PRIVILEGES. God hearkened and heard those that thought and spoke of Him. He drew nigh; and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared Him. It was the Lamb's book of life, in which the saints were written from the foundation of the world. And I do not think it was their names that were written, but the evidences of their faith were written. The book which contains their names is written in eternity; and the book which contains the evidence of their faith was written in time. We all love to be thought of; it is a holy ambition to desire to be thought of by God.

IV. THEIR HOPE. "They shall be Mine, when I make up My jewels." The great distinction shall be made in the day when Jesus Christ shall come — then those who knew Christ, who loved Christ, who kept watch for His appearance, shall be saved, as jewels are saved, in the day of danger.

(N. Armstrong.)

I. THEY FEARED THE LORD. There are those who are sometimes smitten with feelings of terror and horror when their conscience is tender, when some providential circumstances arouse them to consideration. They begin to feel, but it is temporary, it is not deep. The people of God fear Him with the fear of a child. As a child fears his father, so the child of God fears God. He fears not only His power, he fears His character. He fears lest his inconsistencies should bring disgrace upon His name and upon His religion. He feels what he owes to God — that he owes Him everything. The people of God, who fear the Lord, have a constant sense of His presence. That presence continually controls and directs them. And in their private doings, where no eye is upon them, they fear the Lord.

II. THEY SPAKE OFTEN ONE TO ANOTHER. That is, they held conversation with each other. Those who are God's people will talk of God, they cannot help it. They talk of His honour, His work of salvation, and all the great redemptive themes. They talk of the attributes of Deity, as brought out in the great work of Christ. They talk of the sufferings of God's people. They gently reprove each other's faults and failings, faithfully dealing with each other. And they speak often one to another. They talk without restraint. Whenever they have opportunity, such things are their themes.

III. THEY THOUGHT UPON HIS NAME. The name of God is the "I am"! His full name is given in Exodus 34:6, 7. The people of God are a contemplative people. They study His character, His purposes, His grace: they study His attributes. They study the Word of God. They study themselves in their relations with God.

(Hugh Allen, M. A.)


1. They reverence Him. Malachi tells us that these old saints "feared the Lord." Not a slavish, but a filial fear, not a dread of His power, or His anger, but a holy awe of His majesty mingled with a loving admiration. Filial reverence lies at the basis of all true religion.

2. They think upon Him. " They thought upon His name." The name of God was His revealed character, His reputation. The intellect of the good is chiefly engaged in the contemplation of God as He is revealed in nature, history, the Bible, Christ. There is no higher theme of thought than this, not even for angels.

3. They talk about Him. "They spake often one to another." The chief theme of thought will always be the leading subject of converse. "Out of the heart the mouth speaketh." Souls, though constitutionally social, can only meet and mingle on a subject of common interest; the loftier and purer the subject, the closer and more exquisite the communion. As the rays can only meet in the sun, so souls can only meet in true fellowship in the name of God. This is the platform of genuine social intercourse.


1. He hears their converse. "The Lord hearkened and heard it." All sounds in the creation vibrate in the Divine ear; the fall of the dewdrop as well as the thunder of the tempest; the sighs of an infant as well as the choruses of eternity; the oath of the blasphemer as well as the prayer of the saint. But He pays special attention to the words of the good. They travel to Him as the cries of the babe to the heart of the mother.

2. He registers their history. "A book of remembrance was written before Him." He is represented as having recorded what He observes and hears. This book of remembrance before the Lord is no mere figure. The great universe is a book in which every sound uttered, every word spoken, are recorded. Science teaches that every syllable is printed imperishably in the surrounding air. Nature photographs not the mere features of the face, nor the form of the body, but every changing look, every passing thought, etc.

3. He pledges their salvation; which includes glory in the future, and protection in the present. His providence shall guard them with all the carefulness of a father's heart.


I. THE LIFE OF THE GOOD, AS IT IS MANIFESTED UPON EARTH. "Then they that feared the Lord." It is —

1. Loyal. There is profound reverence; a filial, not a slavish fear. Not fearing the anger of God, but fearing to offend Him; not forsaking sin because it brings punishment, but because God hates it. Such fear of God will engender love, inspire faith, produce holiness, secure obedience.

2. It is social. "Spake often one to another." True piety is a cheerful, sympathetic thing; it does not destroy our social instincts, but intensifies and ennobles them. The natural tendency of the fear of the Lord in the heart is to link men together in the bonds of brotherhood, to hush the discord of society, and to lead us to bear each other's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. These believers spake often one to another — not of each other's failings — not for scandal or strife, but about the work of the Lord, and to each other's edification.

3. It was also secret. There was the inner as well as outer, the subjective as well as the objective life; they "thought upon His name." They were not all talk; they were not hypocrites — "talkatives" — they had heart religion. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he; and as he thinks, he loves and lives. Our life must be of this sort to please God, for He looketh at the heart. We must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together; and our affections must be fixed on things above.

II. THE LIFE OF THE GOOD, AS IT IS RECOGNISED IN HEAVEN. "And the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him."

1. It is known in heaven. God recognises those who fear Him, though they may be little and unknown, they are loved and prized by God. The Lord is represented as bending from His throne, and listening to the sounds that come from the earth; and as He hearkens, He hears and recognises the voice of His people, who hold sweet communion with each other, and hallowed communion with Himself; as by unseen electric wires, with inconceivable swiftness, holy thoughts and words flash to heaven, and enter the ear of the Most High. Our conversation is in heaven.

2. It is recorded there. God blots out the sins of His people from His book, but He keeps a book of remembrance for the virtues of His saints. We may forget our work of faith and labour of love, but God never forgets.


1. It will be crowned with the highest possible honour. We shall be owned as friends, and children, and companions of God for ever.

2. It will be crowned with the highest possible glory. "Jewels" are among a monarch's brightest and costliest things; and God speaks of His believing servants as His "jewels."

(F. W. Brown.)

Three things are noteworthy —

I. The ESSENCE of genuine religion. "They that feared the Lord." The men who fear God may be divided into two classes.

1. Those who fear Him with a slavish fear. The uurenewed millions when they think of Him at all dread Him, their guilty consciences invest Him with attributes of such horror that they shudder at the idea of Him, they flee from His presence. "I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid." All that is superstitious in the world, all that is barbaric in the religion of Christendom, spring from this dread of God.

2. Those who fear Him with a filial fear. The fear which a loving child has for a worthy and noble sire. There is, perhaps, always a kind of fear in connection with true love. We fear, not that the object will harm us, but that we may harm or displease the object.

II. The SOCIALITY of genuine religion. "Spake often one to another." We are social beings, and what interests us most has the most power in bringing us together. Nothing interests a religious man so much as religion. Spake no doubt in language of mutual instruction, mutual comfort, mutual exhortation. There is no force in the world so socialising as religion.

III. The WORTH of genuine religion. See what God does with the genuinely religious.

1. He specially attends to them. "The Lord hearkened and heard it."

2. He claims them as His own. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts."

3. He appreciates them as precious. In that day when I make up My jewels." The word here rendered jewels is in Exodus (Exodus 19:5) rendered peculiar treasure. "They are peculiarly precious to Me." He knows the worth of their existence, the cost of their restoration, the greatness of their capabilities.

4. He distinguishes them from all others.


The temptations of the professing Church of God seem to have been much the same in all ages. One has been to neglect or forsake the assemblies of the Lord's people for worship and instruction. In old times there was the same tendency to weariness at the monotony of religious exercises, the same craving for novelty in the human heart, as now. In Malachi's days the world did not look with favour on religion; the world regarded religion as a mean and useless thing; the world had a good word for any one rather than for the humble followers of God, who knew and loved the truth. But, even then, there were those who were not ashamed to meet together, and encourage one another, in the ways of the Lord.

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE LORD'S PEOPLE. The circumstances of life, and the positions in which they are placed, bring out the real character of men. So with regard to spiritual things, circumstances manifest the real character. Times of trial and opposition serve to show who has real grace, and who has only the semblance of it. Tribulation and persecution on account of the Word is in the Sacred Scriptures compared to the refiner's fire, which separates the dross from the pure gold. We ought to rejoice that, in the overruling power and grace of the great Head of the Church, it is turned into a means of good to them who are troubled, and that the wrath of man is made to praise Him, in the manifestation of His grace in His people, and in their refinement and establishment in the faith. In those trying times there were those who dared to go against the prevailing current of the world's opinion, and "spake often one to another." "They feared the Lord, and thought upon His name." Such are the Lord's people in every age.

II. THEIR PROSPECTS. "They shall be Mine," etc. God's people are His property, His jewels. In the day to which they are looking forward, He will own them as His. Not make them His, but declare them to be His.

(G. Maxwell, B. A.)

When Napoleon retreated from Moscow, a large part of his army perished in the cold and snow. When night came, a body of troops would kindle a little fire as best they could, and then lots would be cast for those who should occupy the places nearest the fire, and the cold was so intense that those in the outermost rows would be found frozen stiff in the morning. Now, in every Church, there are those who form the very centre — a circle within a circle- gathering close to the person of Christ. These enjoy the warmth of His spiritual presence, while those who content themselves with living at a distance from Christ are soon chilled and frozen in the keen atmosphere of worldliness which enswathes the Church.


Spake often one to another
We live in better times than were those of Malachi. Among us the influence of religion is acknowledged by the great majority of those with whom we associate. Placed then in more favourable circumstances, do we imitate the example of the pious Israelites? Do we speak one to another of the God whom we worship? It is true that, in the present state of society, religious topics cannot be introduced upon every occasion, or into every circle. Our Saviour Himself warned us against the folly and the danger of such a practice. But alas! by many religious conversation is regarded as an infringement upon the decencies of life; chilled with obstinate silence; or almost rebuked with a sneer.

I. TO THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH RELIGIOUS CONVERSATION IS NATURAL. What dwells habitually in the mind, the lips will most frequently utter. The profession of each individual, and his customary modes of thought, almost irresistibly appear in his conversation. Shall the Christian be the only exception to this general law? The tradesman selects with care, and addresses with evident preference those to whom the secrets of his craft are known; with whom he may plan the means of abridging his labour and increasing his gains. And shall not the servants of Jesus Christ speak one to another of that work which their great Master hath given them to do? The "speech" even of a licentious man "bewrayeth" him. To those who fear the Lord, the most natural subjects of conversation are those which religion supplies. By what inexplicable prejudice do they refuse to speak one to another of their eternal interests? In every other pursuit we seek eagerly the approbation of those whom we value. The hope of their applause lightens our toil. Why should not the same amiable feelings, the same endearing aids, attend religion also?

II. RELIGIOUS CONVERSATION IS PLEASANT TO THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD IN SINCERITY. What is there sublime or amiable in the whole range of intellectual and moral speculation, with which religious feeling may not be united, and on which the conversation of the pious may not with propriety and with advantage dwell? In this wide range there is much that, while it advances our improvement, may minister also to our delight. The subjects of religious conversation, in themselves attractive and delightful, gain a new interest from the relation which connects them with their Author, and from the prospects which, through the Gospel, we are permitted to entertain. And our future destiny endears to us religious conversation.

III. RELIGIOUS CONVERSATION IS USEFUL TO THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD IN SINCERITY. The use fulness of any employment is not to be judged of by. its conformity to the laws of fashion, its tendency to still the alarms of the suspicious, to avoid the sneer of the fool; or by its pleasing effects at the moment, while its final issue is bitter. Religious conversation may still be useful, although it may have been made at times the mask of hypocrisy, or the tool of spiritual pride. If the instrument in itself is valuable, the wise and the pious need not forego its exercise, though knaves have abused, and fools have misapplied it. The uses of conversation in our intellectual pursuits are acknowledged and sought with avidity. In pro portion to the importance of the subjects about which religious conversation is employed, its usefulness increases. Happy would society be, and rapid our improvement, were we to receive as a national law the precept which was given to Israel of old, and made religion at once a theme of instruction and delight! Of that time let us hasten the approach, so far as our influence and example may extend.

(A. Brunton, D. D.)

It is the tendency of our time to decry what is called religious conversation. It is in great disrepute with those who desire to be thought sensible men; and, as a matter of fact, it has become almost extinct, except in certain narrow circles, where it survives in a form by no means calculated to attract others towards it. Many of those who most fail in making religious conversation profitable, have yet a good object in view in their attempts to cherish it. Many good motives have prompted the endeavour to impart a more decidedly Christian character to the language of society. But a failure it has often been. What with the difficulty of expressing in words the deepest feelings; what with the risk of overstating, and of misstating, impressions which, to be worth anything, must be exact, neither more nor less nor other than the precise truth; what with the ambiguity which hangs about so many characters as to their real decision for good, and the danger of saying before any that for which they may be unprepared or disinclined; what with the weariness of mind and body under which most men enter into society, and their consequent indisposition for such efforts of thought as are involved in the discussion of what we call serious subjects; what with the just delicacy which teaches them to refrain from the obtrusion of private thoughts upon any heart but their own, and the just dread too of seeming to any to be other or better than they are: the result of all these, and numberless other influences, is generally the same, namely, that the mention of religion is kept out of our daily intercourse with one another. Nevertheless, the text, amongst other passages of Scripture, forbids us to rest satisfied with a general absence of all reference to those things which, whether in youth or in age, are the only safety, the only happiness, and the only life of the soul. "Then." The context tells us that the time spoken of was an evil time. So prevalent was sin, so bold, and apparently so prosperous, that people were beginning to say, "It is vain to serve God." What profit is it that we have tried to serve Him, and have walked carefully and even mournfully before the Lord? This was a very short-sighted and a very wrong judgment; but it is one which even good men are prone to fall into, when they compare their own present comfort and disparagement with the apparent triumph and happiness of the ungodly. Mark the one characteristic of these people — they "feared the Lord." There are two kinds of fear, the servile and the filial; that kind which consists in dread, and that kind which consists in awe. It is a short and sufficient description of the good in any congregation, that they "fear God." In times of difficulty and discouragement they "spake often one to another." They tried the experiment of sympathy, of combined counsel, and combined action too. The meaning of the "Church" is, that God would give us in association a strength and comfort which we cannot find in isolation; that He would have us strengthen our brethren, and be strengthened in turn by our brethren, in the exercise of united acts of worship, and still more in the recognition at all times of a tie of friendship and of brotherhood which all must possess who have indeed one heavenly Father, one Divine Saviour, and one Holy Spirit. We do not half use these helps and strengths with which God has provided us. Here I would place the beginning of religious conversation. Here, in God's worship., Those who have heartily prayed together, praised God together, listened to God's Word together, cannot go forth, to neglect one another, to oppress one another, to tempi one another, without such a sense of guilt in doing so as would be absolutely intolerable. When it is once made present to your minds as a great object, that all should lead blameless Christian lives, and that all should at last see God, many other ways will suggest themselves, besides this, in which those who fear the Lord may speak often one to another. It may be done in the privacy of true friendship, when to one faithful ear you can confide something of your personal difficulties and temptations, and exchange that sympathy which is always strengthening even where it may seem to be rather the confession of weakness. "The Lord hearkened and heard it." If there are any — may there be many — who can think with comfort of that record of words spoken in His love and fear, must not others tremble when they think of their words? Who has been the better for our possess ing the gift of speech? Let us judge ourselves, one and all, for indeed we have cause to do so, if perhaps in God's great mercy we may not be judged. Let us remember, one and all, who said that for every idle word which men should speak they should give account in the day of judgment. Of all the sayings written down from His lips in the book of God, none surely is so terrible in its sound as that which declares, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

Essex Remembrancer.
Few persons are so unhappy as to be ignorant of the value of social intercourse, and as not to have realised its influence in heightening the enjoyments of human life, and mitigating its sorrows. This pleasure, like every other, is refined and elevated by the mutual experience of personal religion. Convinced that a free social intercourse, of a spiritual and experimental character, among Christians may be highly subservient to their advancement in religion, it is proposed to offer a few remarks adapted to direct its exercise and to promote its cultivation.


1. The persons with whom it should be held. It should for the most part be restricted to those whom we can regard as the subjects of renewing grace. They who "feared God" spake to one another. On experimental religion, those who have never felt its power can have nothing to communicate; nor are they in general likely to feel any particular interest in the views of those who have. Free interchange of sentiment is not advisable indiscriminately with all who fear God.(1) It should be cultivated more especially with those to whom we are united in the fellowship of the Gospel.(2) And with those whose circumstances and habits are most nearly analogous to our own. This is true in reference to our standing in the Divine life, and to those of similar habits and in the same stations in society.(3) Such intercourse should be habitually cherished among those who are connected by the intimacies of domestic association. Such association presents not only the most frequent, but also the most appropriate opportunities for such intercourse.


1. The peculiar spiritual or providential dispensations of which we may be the subjects. The proofs our own experience has furnished of the efficacy of prayer.

2. Subjects which have been brought before us in the public services of the sanctuary, or in the private perusal of the Word of God.

3. The general state of religion, more especially in our own neighbourhood and communion, and the means by which we may individually aid in its advancement.

III. THE SEASONS at which such intercourse may be appropriately entered on. "Spake often." The expression seems to imply that they took every opportunity, in the ordinary associations of friendship, to direct the attention of each other to sacred subjects. In conclusion, some considerations to enforce the cultivation of spiritual intercourse.

1. Such exercises have been attended by evident indications of Divine approbation.

2. Such intercourse is essential to the right exercise of Christian sympathy and affection.

3. It will be found highly conducive to our own spiritual advantage. Points in our experience we have thought fatally peculiar we shall find common to others as well; we may gain relief where they found it, we may learn to shun the snares by which they were endangered, and to pursue the means by which their progress in the Divine life has been promoted.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

I. IT PLEASES GOD. It is plainly indicated that God is pleased when His people talk to each other tenderly about Him, that He listens, and not only listens, but makes record for future reward of all those who are so lovingly loyal. Why are Christians to-day so dumb? Love is not a dumb or silent thing. Love speaks. Then why these sealed lips? God listens while His children fondly talk of Him. He loves to see gratitude in our hearts; it greatly pleases Him to hear us talking one to another about His goodness.

II. IT BLESSES US. Nothing does one's own heart so much good as speaking kindly of another. Expressing love ever increases it.

III. IT BLESSES OTHERS. There are too many dumb Christians; for there is a vast power for good in our tongues if we will but use them aright. Many a soul has been led to Christ through the good words dropped in Christian conversation.

(G. B. F. Hallock.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.

1. They feared the Lord. There is a "slavish" fear, distinguished from "filial" fear. In the language of the Old Testament, the "fear of the Lord" means what may be called the entire religious principle, or the whole of inward religion.

2. They thought upon the name of the Lord. Names are signs used to distinguish one person from another. Usually they are arbitrary signs. But "the name of the Lord" expresses the essential qualities of His nature. Some of the names of God are Rock, Strength, Shepherd, Father, King.

3. They spake often one to another. On what particular subject we must gather from the circumstances of the case. They must have spoken of God's gracious dealings with them; of the oppositions they had to encounter; the deliverances they had experienced. They spake often, in ways of instruction, admonition, and encouragement.


1. Divine approbation. "The Lord hearkened and heard." He deigned to listen.

2. Divine security. " A book of remembrance was written." There was an imperishable impression of their case on the mind of God Himself.

3. Divine promise. "They shall be Mine," etc.(1) They are regarded as jewels.(2) When God shall "make up His jewels," shall gather them out from among the rubbish and refuse, He who now regards them as His children will spare them, will preserve them tenderly and effectually.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

I. THE DISPOSITION AND BEHAVIOUR OF THESE PIOUS PERSONS IN A TIME OF PREVAILING IRRELIGION. Their general character is that they "feared the Lord." As the general fruit of that Divine principle ruling in their hearts, they "spake often one to another." The subject of their conversation was the same with that of their thoughts, the name of God and His ways. As agreement in principles and affections, an union of interests and designs: naturally begets friendship amongst men, and is the foundation of mutual freedom in communicating their thoughts to each other, so true religion particularly is the firmest bond of union, the strongest and noblest cement of a lasting amity. There is, too, a good deal of reason why good men should speak often one to another in a time of abounding iniquity, because it is a means of strengthening the good dispositions which remain in themselves, and which otherwise may be in danger of being weakened and of perishing at last. As religion more than anything else in the mind labourcth against opposition both from temptations without and our own infirmities, it needs and receives peculiar benefit by the affectionate counsel of pious friends; and evil communication doth not more tend to corrupt good manners than good communication doth further to purify and raise them to perfection. Therefore Christians are earnestly exhorted by the sacred writers to be aiding and assisting to each other in this respect (Hebrews 3:12, 13). We see, then, the true reason of Christians' shyness in speaking one to another upon the affairs of religion, which is the faulty omission of a very important duty, an excellent means of increasing piety and virtue; and it is no otherwise to be accounted for than by the weakness of good affections. Great prudence is to be used in discoursing on religious subjects, and the tempers of men carefully considered, lest an indiscreet freedom be attended with bad consequences, and sacred things be exposed to the contempt of the profane.

II. THE DISTINGUISHING REGARD GOD SHOWS TO THEM. He observes them attentively; they are at all times the objects of His peculiar care, and shall at last be highly honoured and happy in His favour. The figurative way of speaking is not intended to signify that God has any need of external evidence or means of finding out the truth: since at one direct view He beholds the most remote and most secret things. By Him actions are weighed He has a more perfect knowledge than men can possibly have by the strictest inquiry they can make. This intimacy of Divine knowledge of our very thoughts and most private communications with friends is to religious minds of the greatest moment to their comfort and support under their difficulties, and a powerful motive to preserve stedfastness in true piety. God's distinguishing regard is shown in His keeping "a book of remembrance." This is but after the manner of men, to show the infallible security of the Divine promises made in favour of the righteous, and the reward which shall be adjudged to them, fully proportioned, nay greatly exceeding, all the good they have done. God hath no need of registers which human governments have recourse to. God knows all past and future as well as present with equal clearness. The "book of remembrance" suggests His special notice of the conduct of His faithful servants, His keeping their actions in mind, and the undiminished perspicuity of His righteousness and goodness in all His proceedings towards them. Another instance of God's distinguishing, regard,, is the promise that they shall be His when He maketh up His jewels. Reference is to the appointed day of account. God will then most eminently make up His jewels, when He gathers the general assembly and Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven. There are some differences between the conditions of men even in this world made by the interposition of God Himself as righteous Governor, which may be comprehended in His making up His jewels. It is now that God hath such pity for them that fear Him as to preserve them from many snares and calamities to which they are liable, and spare them as a father spareth his son.

(J. Abernethy, M. A.)

However abandoned and wicked a people or nation may be, nevertheless God has reserved to Himself a seed to serve Him, a people to show forth His glory. The period to which the text alludes may be considered emblematical of the times in which we live; and it should be our object, as the professed people of God, to imitate the example of those who are so honourably mentioned by the prophet in the words before us.


1. They are said to "fear the Lord." In order that we may fear the Lord we must know Him. The fear meant is that reverential, affectionate fear of God which is produced in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit.

2. They are those who meditate upon Him. "In the multitude of their thoughts within them His comforts delight their soul."

3. They are those who hold communion one with another. They "considered one another, to provoke unto love and good works." We can imagine them saying, "Come, all ye that fear the Lord, and we will tell you what He hath done for our souls."


1. He testifies His approbation by paying attention to their occupations.

2. By granting them a share in His remembrance.

3. By promising to recognise and spare them at the final day. "They shall be Mine when I make up My jewels." God even speaks of them as His "sons." Do we possess the characteristics which are here given of the people of God? May God, in His infinite mercy, place His fear within our hearts, and then the gracious promise of the text shall be ours.

(Henry Cleare.)

I. RELIGIOUS FELLOWSHIP CALLS INTO EXERCISE THE HIGHEST SYMPATHIES OF BEING. While men converse on secular subjects the fountain of their spiritual nature is sealed. When the topic is practical Christianity, the hidden individuality discloses its proportions, and you become acquainted with the genuine nature of the speaker. Three facts in relation to religious men.

1. They have the common centre of attraction. "They that feared the Lord." On the subject of experimental godliness all Christians can speak. Assemble round the manger of Bethlehem or the Cross of Calvary, and even the most untutored tongue is stirred to eloquence or music.

2. They have corresponding spiritual experiences. Every student of his own heart has been amazed and delighted to discover the harmony of religious feelings which exists throughout the Church.

3. They enjoy the inspiration of a common hope. They speak of their joint inheritance without any feeling of envy. The "fear " here is that which filial reverence so properly inspires. The child of God fears lest he should wound love so sensitive, or insult purity so dazzling; his fear relates less to the power that might crush him than to the mercy which has saved him.


1. The proximity of the Divine ear. God has so constructed the universe that every whisper in its remotest region resounds in the palace of Deity. Wondrous ear! The thunders of celestial song, the plaintive notes of sorrow, the sighings of secret worship, the cries of extremity, and the doxologies of gratitude all force their way to that centre. Thy prayer will not ascend in vain.

2. The Divine record of human deeds. "A book of remembrance." There is a registry of names in heaven. Every man who "spake" will find his name inscribed in the chronicles of the sky.

III. RELIGIOUS FELLOWSHIP NECESSITATES A CONTEMPLATION OF THE SUBLIMEST SUBJECTS. "That thought upon His name." Can you indicate a subject of more thrilling interest? Is boundless power sublime? The name of God is the expression of Omnipotence. Is infinite wisdom sublime? The name of God is the expression of Omniscience. Is there aught of sublimity in inimitable love? The name of God is the representative of ever-during and disinterested affection. There is no common-place in religion. The moment you mention the name of God you rise into the loftiest region of sublimity! Religious fellowship involves the highest style of conversation.


1. The qualification for these honours is entirely moral. All that is said of these people is, "They feared the Lord." "They thought on His name."

2. There is an appointed day of classification. God has jewels even amid the ruins of this shattered and degraded world.Concerning the fellowship indicated, four facts are clear.

1. It was cultivated with much frequency. "Spake often."

2. Its subjects are undiminished in sublimity.

3. It is demanded in circumstances no less exacting than those indicated in the context.

4. It has lost none of its attractiveness in the Divine estimation. The world may turn a deaf ear to your spiritual intercourse, hut the Lord will hearken and preserve a memorial of your godly fellowship.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

In these days religion is spoken of controversially, historically, and politically. But let religion be introduced and treated experimentally, then it is at once undervalued. If any person venture to speak of the Lord's dealings with his soul, then the subject either excites ridicule amongst the company, or draws down upon the speaker the contemptuous pity of every hearer. This is the common course of things, but it is not universally so. Even in the days of the text there was a remnant of those who loved to speak of spiritual things, and to speak of them spiritually.

I. THE PARTIES DESCRIBED. Those who "feared the Lord." Not with that slavish fear which exists in the minds of those who love sin, indulge in sin, and then only tremble when they think of the wages of sin. Reference is to those who, looking upon God as a Father, reverence Him and love Him, and would prefer themselves suffering any loss to offending One who had conferred such inestimable blessings on them. The true filial fear of God implies a correct knowledge of God's dealings with us, of His demands upon our affections, of His love as manifested in Christ, of the way of salvation, and the necessity of holiness. It implies also a willing obedience to God's commandments, a thankful acceptance of God's invitations, and a grateful endeavour to conform to the image, of Jesus Christ. It also signifies an earnest desire to do everything to the praise and glory of God. They who fear the Lord are men who, making a profession of religion, mean what they say and say what they mean.

II. THEIR CONDUCT. "Spake often one to another." Man is a social being. Few things contribute more to the encouragement of selfishness than solitude; and nothing is more opposed to the whole spirit of true religion than selfishness. If God has vouchsafed unto us the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ we are neither nationally nor individually at liberty to hide that light under a bushel. Enforce the duty of religious conversation.

1. From the danger which naturally follows idle conversation. Idle words are sinful in themselves, and extremely sinful in their tendency. But what is the character of the common conversation of the day?

2. Our conversation is a test of the state of the heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." This is literally true. Illustrate by the man of pleasure, who talks about his sport; or the politician, who talks about his politics. Why, then. should any one condemn the zeal of the man of God, who would speak of the Lord's dealings with his soul?

3. We have the positive injunction of the Word of God. "Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt." The duty is specially insisted on again and again in the Scriptures. The value of experimental conversation is incalculable. Yet it must be confessed that silence upon experimental religion is generally practised.

III. THE REWARD. The Lord "noted it down in a book of remembrance." In the great day, to your infinite surprise, you will find words recalled to your mind long since forgotten by yourselves, but fresh as ever in the remembrance of that loving Father with whom we have to do. By way of caution let me say, do not think you must be safe because you speak upon religion. Though every converted man will speak of Christ, not every one who speaks of Christ is converted. Speaking upon religion without feeling is nothing less than hypocrisy. It seldom deceives man, It never deceives God.

(Montagu Villiers, M. A.)

Even in the most degenerate ages God never suffered the light of truth to be completely banished from the earth. We observe also, that where and when sinners have been most determined in their opposition to God, the servants of God have ever been most bold and resolute.

1. We learn from the words of the text that it is the duty of Christians at all times to stand by and support each other, especially in times of abounding iniquity. This was the conduct of these Jewish servants of God, and was highly approved of by the Almighty. The progress of sin has, in every age, been advanced by the determined union of its supporters. God has appointed a way by which all this may be met and overcome, namely, a determined union amongst all the followers of the Lamb. Though the number of Christians has ever been small in comparison of the Overwhelming masses of ungodly men, yet truth and righteousness must in due time prevail, and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas. There is no doubt a decided and close union among real Christians, whether it is externally visible or not. It is not only the duty of all Christians to feel a deep interest in each other's prosperity, but they cannot be Christians without feeling such an interest; and what is required is, that this union be as open and manifest as it is real and unalterable. The ministers of truth are especially bound to stand up for the cause of God in stormy times. Theirs is the post of responsibility and danger. They are the standard-bearers. But still, all Christians are bound, as they value God and truth, a glorious eternity, and the immortal souls of their brethren, to aid their ministerial efforts, by speaking often one to another words of encouragement, consolation and reproof. We might go over all the different situations in which a Christian may be placed, and show how the words of a friend may inspire with comfort; for as iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the face of a man the countenance of his friend. In all circumstances it is the duty of Christians to speak one to another; for a word fitly spoken, how good it is; and this is one of the means appointed by God for saving souls from death, and promoting the sanctification of His people.

2. God not merely remembers, but will reward those who thus promote the salvation of His people, and retain their holiness amidst abounding iniquity, and in illustrating this point the great advantage of holiness will appear. Decided Christians are exceedingly precious in the sight of God. God gives us to believe that when at last He comes down to exhibit to the world His glorious majesty, and when all the princes of many generations must meet together, and all the potentates of hell must come to see the glorious spectacle — nothing fairer will there be, nothing more precious and beautiful, nothing which illustrates more the dignity and glory of His power, His love, and His attributes, than the members of the Christian Church, fair and glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. Or take the other figure. We all know how tender is the affection of parents for their children. It reigns amongst all the creatures of God. Even the utmost cruelty, the most base ingratitude, is unable to quench a father's love. And the eternal Jehovah gives us to believe that, as parents write the names of their children in their sacred books, so He writes the names of His on the palms of His hands; they are ever before Him. "I will spare them as a man spareth his son that serveth him." The time is fast approaching when the reign of delusion will end for ever; when this strange scene, in which holiness is oppressed and sin apparently triumphant, shall change, light coming out of darkness, order out of confusion, the wicked being driven away in their wickedness, the chosen ones of God brought forth from their obscurity, that they may shine as the jewels in our Saviour's crown, as the stars for ever and ever.

(James Begg, A. M.)

These persons speak of God and God's dealings, because this is the subject they are thinking upon; because their hearts are full of God and His doings; because they reverence and fear God. How many thus spoke to one another in Malachi's days we do not know. If it was the duty of God's servants, before the appear. ing of Christ, thus to keep up their hopes and strengthen one another, ought not God's servants, now that He has appeared, now to speak to one another about the performances and promises of Christ? That surely is our duty. If our hearts are full of Christ, can we help talking about Christ to those with whom we constantly live? The speaking about God and Christ, about religion and heaven, I am recommending, is the speaking of them in plain, natural, hearty language; the speaking of them because you think of them, and feel deeply their importance. To speak about these things in phrases imitated from others is a vile and almost profane practice; it is certain to lead to self-deceit, and the mistake of talking for doing, of sounds for realities, of lip-religion for heart religion. No talking comes from the heart, or goes to the heart, that is not plain, natural, and unforced. Regularly maintained silence is impossible if you feel deeply. Ii you are regularly silent, you do not feel deeply.

(T. K. Arnold.)

The temple was built when Malachi wrote, and the Divine ordinances were established there; but few were devout and sincere worshippers. The priests were given to secularising tendencies; many professed worshippers were guilty of sacrilege. This is a dark picture. It is relieved by the few "zealous for the Lord of hosts." These, by their invincible faith in God, by the oneness of their unity, and by the holiness and frequency of their fellowship, rebuked the infidelity of the period.

I. TRUE PIETY MAY EXIST IN A CORRUPT CHURCH. This Church was corrupt. The priests were unfaithful to their sacred trust. The people were guilty of treacherous dealing, of departing from the Divine ordinance, and of seeking to justify this manifold wickedness before God. But a few had genuine piety.

1. They "feared the Lord." This was a filial fear. The sinner fears God because of the penal consequences of sin. The fear of the Christian springs from different considerations, filial not slavish.

2. They "thought upon His name." Here we have devout meditation.

(1)Pious meditation is possible to all.

(2)It is profitable to all.Our piety will be dwarfed if this duty is neglected. "His name." Every appellation of Jehovah is calculated to inspire the Christian with confidence and courage.


1. They "spake one to another" words of encouragement. There may be fellow ship without words. There is a heart fellowship. Then the countenance speaks.

2. They spake "often." Then they must have assembled often. The topics of conversation are not recorded, but "out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh."

III. God encourages the faithful to maintain Christian fellowship in the time of the Church's degeneracy.

1. He delights in their fellowship; listens to and permanently records their conversation.

2. He rewards with present security and eternal salvation. They are God's "jewels " in the highest sense, who are faithful when many in the Church backslide.

(E. D. Solomon.)

I. THE TIMES OF MALACHI. The nation had sunk into a state of political degradation, and had become successively subject to the Persians, Syrians, Romans. It is precisely that political state in which national virtues do not thrive, and national decay is sure. Illustrate — Italy, Spain. There was a want of unity, manhood, and simple virtues. It was a state in which there was no visible Divine interference. Except this solitary voice of Malachi, prophecy had hushed her harp. What was given to Israel in that period? Retrospect, in the sublime past which God had given her for her experience. Prospect, in the expectation of better times. And between these two there was a pause. They were left by God to use the grace and knowledge already given by Him. This is parallel to God's usual modes of dealing. A pause after every revelation until the next. So in the natural world, so in human life; between its marked lessons there is a pause in which we live upon past experience — looking back and looking on. We live in the world's fourth great pause. Miracles have ceased. Prophecy is silent. The Son of God is ascended. Apostles are no longer here to apply infallible judgment to each new circumstance as it arises. We are left to the great Gospel principles which have been already given, and which are to be our food till the next flood of God's Spirit, the next revelation — that which is known as the Second Advent.


1. Some lived recklessly.

2. Others lived uselessly, because despairingly.

3. A few compared with one another their hopes, and sought strength in Christian communion and fellowship.This communion of saints is twofold: it includes church fellowship and personal friendships. Christian friendship is a blessing, as the interchange of Christian hope and Christian feeling. And it is a mighty instrument in guarding against temptation. It is a safeguard in the way of example, and also a standard of opinion. Cultivate familiar intimacy only with those who love God and good.

(F. W. Robertson.)

To the majority of the nation of Israel God seemed to have utterly forsaken His people, and few believed Malachi as he faithfully proclaimed God's intention of sending a Messenger, a Refiner, a Purifier, in the person of the Messiah, who was to fulfil the prophecies of the last and of all previous prophets. This prevailing unbelief was the cause, as it always is, of widespread wickedness. Malachi's picture of his time is a dark one. Nevertheless, a remnant was left. A few did believe in the coming of Christ, and lived in preparation for the Refiner's fire. What were the means which, by God's grace, enabled them to resist the temptations of an unbelieving and a wicked generation? Holy friendship. Knowing that union is strength in religious as well as in secular things, they formed close friendships one with another, and often spoke together of their hopes and fears. In forming friendships, young people would do well to remember that the friend ship of the bad, or of those who never try to live at all above their world, is enmity against God. Another rule is not to choose friends on a low principle and from a low motive. The best definition of a friend is, "He who makes you do what you can." It is by their unconscious influence that friends help every moment to mar or make our characters. Our Lord did not so much enjoin it as take it for granted that His followers would always strengthen and encourage each other by praying and speaking together. Those ,who are Christians in earnest gradually lead one another on to higher views of life and duty; a know ledge of their mutual faults makes them unreserved to each other; they are not afraid of saying all that is in their hearts; they make known to each other their particular difficulties and temptations; they feel that they are engaged in the same struggle; and each is often able to give assistance to the other on one point, whilst by others he may himself require to be aided in his turn.

(E. J. Hardy, M. A.)

There was something, even in those times, which is worthy of our imitation. They spake of religion, of God and duty. The subject in which men have a common interest is religion. The subject is all-important and momentous. It is important as our intellectual and immortal nature. If it becomes us to speak often to one another on the business of this fleeting life, it much more becomes us to speak often one to another on the business of a life that will never end. But notwithstanding the importance of religion, there is comparatively little religious conversation. Much of what has been so termed has been perverted. It has been worn as a mask by hypocrisy. It has cherished and manifested the complacency of spiritual pride. It has served as a vehicle for denunciation and anathematising to bigotry and intolerance. It has fostered the religion of the fancy, cold in heart and powerless in conduct. Then in the domestic circle, in the confidential hour, let religion have its place. Conversation has great influence upon conduct. But let us not forget that "for everything there is a season." We are at all seasons to be religious; but there are times when religious topics may not be well introduced. While the Christian should watch for opportunities to advance the cause of religion, he should be careful not to expose it to the ribaldry of profaneness or the sneer of folly.

(C. Lowell.)

In these words we have it plainly signified to us —

I. THAT SERIOUS CONFERENCE AMONGST GOOD PERSONS IS PECULIARLY NEEDFUL IN THOUGHTLESS AND IRRELIGIOUS TIMES. If we express no concern for the interests of piety and virtue in our words we shall be justly suspected of having but little in our thoughts. We should learn to judge of ourselves by our common talk, as well as by our actions. By speaking seriously on proper occasions we shall bind ourselves to act so, else the inconsistency will shame us. We are strangely apt to grow languid and fiat in our good inclinations; it is therefore important that we should stir up each other, which a word in season or a mere hint may do surprisingly. Even where we can receive little instruction we may enjoy great satisfaction from intimacy of acquaintance with those who think and act and hope and expect as we do. Some society we must have. On seeking that of good persons we shall have less need to spend much of our time with the bad; and be less hurt by that portion which we are obliged to give up to them. It is not necessary that the whole conversation of religious persons, when they are together, be on the subject of religion. The bare choice of such company and acquaintance is, of itself, a mutual incitement to persevere and be active. Their discourse, on every subject, will be regulated by the laws of religion. But we need not be so shy, as we commonly are, on the head of religion.

II. THAT GOD OBSERVES, AND WILL REWARD IT. He hears indeed everything, and forgets nothing. The prophet means that He takes's gracious notice of this particularly, among other good actions of His servants. Persons may, by concealing to which side they belong, escape some little persecution, and secure some little interests; but while the disposer of all things gives them their desire in these respects, He sends leanness into their souls. Our religion is not to be dissembled but avowed. Application to present occasion. Beneficial as pious discourse and consultation is in general, the benefit may both be increased to ourselves and to others by our uniting into regular societies for the more constant inter course of mutual edification and support of religious behaviour.

(Archbishop Becker.)

History has few darker pictures than the closing scenes of the Jewish dispensation. Reading the record, we watch the death agony of s world. Judaism, like all noble things which have abased and degraded themselves, died a hard and terrible death. The heathen world was full enough of suffering; but its anguish was unto life, however sharp the birth pangs; the anguish of the Jewish state was unto death, and fearful were the throes. Malachi lived when the nation was far advanced on the apostate's path. The next great act in the Divine drama would be the coming of the great and terrible "day of the Lord." But amidst the dissolute and reprobate throng there were a few men of Divine mould; like the soul in the flesh, they kept it from rotting utterly. In the darkest hours of human history God is never without a few to serve Him; the more loyally, the more intensely, because of the impiety and profligacy around. There are but a few in any age that live after the divinest pattern; whose springs are all in God, whose hopes are all in heaven; who know that their mission in the world is ministry; who live, like Christ, that they may bless and save. Such have a communion with the Lord, and with each other, of which the world knows nothing. Godliness is here presented as the firm basis of confederation and communion. The godly are truly confederate, and they alone. There is no purer joy than that which springs from the discovery of like-mindedness, mind meeting mind, and heart meeting heart in sympathy. Man yearns to be con federate with man. There is but one confederation which is real and solid to the depths, the confederation of godly souls for godly ends. All other combinations perish. In every evil confederation there is the principle of discord. There is schism in every unholy alliance. This is the godly enterprise of every age, to demonstrate the vital force of godly confederacy. Such know what speech means. Speech, like friendship, is essentially holy, and lends not all its strength to the uses of sin. Evil cannot speak out. The faithful can speak and speak out; their words ring true as the metal of their own spirits. They speak often one to another; their speech fans the flame of love and resolution, and lays up for the sterner times of trial rich stores of consolation and hope. "Nor are we left to guess at their themes. They thought upon His name; the reality of the existence, and the reign of the righteous and almighty Lord.

1. His holy name.

2. His awful name.

3. His precious promises.

4. His immutable truth.Thus they strengthened themselves. Thus they made confederacy and communion; a confederacy which did not perish in the wreck, but was prolonged through ages, and brought forth out of its bosom the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

(Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

They that feared the Lord spake often one with another. It is strange, one has said, that what is every man's chief concern should be so few men's conversation. How we shrink from talk about the soul and eternity, about the pilgrim way and the celestial city, about God and Christ! What a poor book Bunyan's great allegory would be, if the travellers to Zion never had opened their hearts to each other as they paced the King's high road. The book to which I owe so much had scarcely been worth the reading. What a different life Bunyan himself would have led, if the Lord's people had had nothing to say to one another about His grace to them. It was, you remember, the talk of three or four poor women sitting in the sun on Bedford Street, who spake as if joy did make them speak, it was this which convinced him that he was still outside the family and the fold of the Good Shepherd. There may be listeners of whom I am not aware, when I recount the great things my Saviour has done. There is one Listener of whom I can be sure. The Lord hearkens and hears, and a book of remembrance is written before Him.

(A. Smellie.)

When Wesley the great preacher was returning to Oxford, tired and discouraged with his work, and with strong leanings towards a life of seclusion, he travelled some miles to see a "serious man." "Sir," said this person in words which Wesley never forgot, "you tell me you wish to serve God and go to heaven. Remember you cannot serve Him alone, you must find companions and help them, the Bible knows nothing of solitary religion." Wesley joined the "Holy Club," and his subsequent institution of societies shows how apt a learner he was.

A book of remembrance was written
There is reason to believe that memory never loses anything, but that it retains, and may reproduce, when the right string is touched, every thought, impression, and event of our whole past lives. The well-ascertained phenomena of delirium, insanity, and other unusual forms of consciousness, furnish ample demonstration of this statement. In our usual state of mind, things do not indeed return to us uncalled, nor yet do they come at once when sought, but obey certain laws of suggestion or association, which retard the action of the memory, as the balance-wheel does the motions of a watch. But in certain conditions of consciousness, the balance-wheel is taken off, the usual laws of suggestion are suspended, the full flow of memory takes the place of the scanty jet of recollection, and the whole past rushes spontaneously upon the mind. But we need not go beyond our own familiar experience to verify this view. Revisit some scenes of early life, and what intensely vivid remembrances take shape, hue, and voice! The past never dies, though, in the common routine of life, we have to a degree the keys of memory in our own hands, and may admit or exclude recollections at pleasure. There are seasons, and those not rare, when, without the power of choice, we are liable to inundations from the good or evil, the sweet or bitter, of the past, promiscuously. In seasons of sorrow the past always utters its voices. When the hand of providence is heavy upon us, if the past has been stained with guilt, we need no inscription upon the wall to make our knees smite together and our souls tremble. There is nothing, more true to universal experience than the self-reproaching communings of Joseph's brethren when they felt themselves surrounded by imminent perils in a strange land. A vast amount of remorse mingles with human grief, and drugs to the utmost with gall and wormwood the cup of sorrow. But compare, with the sad retrospect which providence forces upon the guilty, the rich reminiscences which crowded Job's mind, when health, riches, and children were all taken from him. Most of all, death, as it is passing the book of memory over to the register of eternity, rehearses its records in the ear fast closing to the outward world. Is it within our power to lay up remembrances that will give peace and pleasure? It is not events, but our own traits of character and conduct alone, that are capable of giving us anguish in the remote retrospect. It is astonishing how smooth the roughest ways of providence look at a little distance. If shadows gather about our dying bed, they will be shadows of our negligencies, follies, and sins. But if our lives have been faithful, devout, and loving, then will the remembrance of what we were through the grace of God, and the testimony of a good conscience glancing to and fro through the years that are gone, give peace and triumph to our departing spirits, and enable us to feel that God is taking us to a rest for which He had first fitted us. A recent German writer, in a fictitious sketch, introduces a worthy youth as compiling a book of pleasant experiences to be read for his comfort at the hour of death. Such a book it concerns us all to write, not on paper, but on the surer and more lasting tablet of a memory that cannot die. Show the bearing this view of memory has on the doctrine of a future righteous retribution. St. John says: I saw the dead, both small and great, stand before God. And the books were opened," etc. Out of what books can they be thus judged, except those of memory, — books written by themselves, but preserved by God, and opened at the solemn hour of death for their acquittal or condemnation? If the past is to be thus brought to light, may not memory be the prime minister of God's retributive justice, — the worm that never dies, the fire that is never quenched, in the sinner's soul, — the peace of God, that passeth understanding, to the pure and faithful spirit? Of the power of memory for good or evil, we have in this life ample experience from the torn and scattered leaves of its book, with which recollection furnishes us. Imagine the abandoned sinner full in the presence of his God, no sentence passed upon him but that which he is constrained to pass upon himself, no fire let loose upon him, but that which memory can kindle. Memory isolates him, makes him both afraid and ashamed to trust either God or man, bids him dread the frown of the Almighty, and shrink from the scorn of his brethren. Pass to the right hand of the Judge. Contemplate a truly humble, devout, exemplary Christian, with the holy thoughts and good deeds of a life of piety spread out before him, not veiled, as they were on earth, by the self-abasement of a lowly spirit, but sparkling in heaven's pure sunlight, seen of angels, owned by the benignant Redeemer, approved by God the Judge of all. Moreover, as his earthly life is thus reviewed in heaven, he sees not only each act itself, but its happy, glorious, perhaps still widening and brightening results. Did he sow a seed of humble charity? He sees not the seed, but the tree which has sprung from it. Did he cast his bread upon the waters? He sees not the bread, but the hungering souls whom it has nourished. Did he labour, and pray, and live, for the salvation of souls? He sees not his efforts, but their fruits, going forth it may be, even for the healing of the nations. But it may be said, the best of men have been, to a greater or less degree, sinners; and if memory be perfect and entire, while the pious look back with pleasure on their good deeds, must not the remembrance of their folly and sin cloud their joy, and mingle strains of sadness with their songs of rapture? But surely to the awakened memory of the consistently virtuous, in the world to come, worthy and holy thoughts and deeds must so occupy the foreground, as to throw follies and sins completely into the shade. Then, too, against every disobedient purpose and act there will be written in the book of memory the cancelling vows of contrition that succeeded it, and the holy resolutions that forbade its repetition. The sins of the exemplary and devout will be to them in heaven as the sins of our infancy are to us now. If then a "book of remembrance" is kept, how vigilant the prospect of its pages being brought to light should make us — how prayerful against secret faults — how watchful against besetting sins!

(A. P. Peabody.)


1. We have a common principle. The fear of the Lord was the bond that united those to whom the prophet here makes allusion.

2. There was frequent communion. There was an oft and repeated meeting of the faithful. We shall always find in the history of the Church of Christ that the most pious have ever been earnest and persevering in their public religious exercises.

3. We have a repeated confession. They spake of the things which pertained to God. The only Father-confessor to whom we should make known our wants, and confess our sins, is God. There was mutual instruction. There was great sympathy aroused.


1. Special acts of piety are specially remembered.

2. The Almighty does not pass by the doings of men without any regard to the character of those doings. Our book of remembrance is being written. The life we lead will meet us as a resurrection of forgotten acts.

(H. G. Parrish, B. A.)

The prophet is here speaking of the conduct and reward of those who remained faithful to God at a time of great national apostasy. Such a time had, in the providence of God, been permitted to cast its dark shadow over the people of Israel. The course of their history shows that the recurrence of certain evils brought on, as by natural sequence, a repetition of punishment, or a fresh chastisement. Violated law brought in due time its appropriate punishment; and in this way God's moral government, as it were, rectified itself to the eyes of men. The transgressor never got off with impunity; but the present seemed to be an exception. The ungodly were allowed to go on in sin without calling down any token of Divine displeasure. They even prospered in sin. God's people had begun to think the service of God to be vanity. What profit had the righteous man in walking mournfully before the Lord? The prosperity of the wicked became a stumbling-block to the righteous. Those who continued faithful to God were perplexed when they saw the success of sin, and so they met to hold mutual intercourse, and to impart mutual encouragement. They would help each other to fathom the providential mystery. Our short-sightedness keeps us from seeing beyond the present, otherwise we would perceive a higher good than earthly greatness, and true success would he tested not by outward conditions, but by moral character.

I. THE CONDUCT OF THE FAITHFUL AT A TIME OF APOSTASY. Instead of envying at the wicked, and bewailing their own condition, they met for mutual encouragement, and for the defence of God's righteous dealings against blasphemers. Their object was not only mutual encouragement, but the vindication of their God from the aspersions cast upon His name. What a beautiful picture is this of Christian fellowship and fidelity; and happily, even the darkest days of the Church have been brightened by examples of a like kind. Illustrate — Catacombs, Waldenses, Covenanters, etc. God was subjecting these men who feared Him tea Divine test. They took their united stand on common ground — the fear of God. At the peril of their lives they bore testimony and were not ashamed. There are times when such men are specially needed. Men to stand up for the defence of the truth; not merely devout believers, but able apologists.

II. THE LORD KEPT A BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE FOR RECORDING THE NAMES AND DEEDS OF THE FAITHFUL. In speaking of a book, we do not insist on an actual volume. The expression is an accommodation to our modes of speech. He who is Omniscient needs no book to keep Him in mind of His people's services. Their deeds were as particularly recorded as if actually written in a book. The object of this record is to form the basis of judgment. According to what is written there, so will men be rewarded or punished. Nothing will be left unnoticed that will add to the final award. As a guarantee of the correct ness of every entry in that book, we are assured that the Lord Himself hearkens and hears. Nothing will escape His searching scrutiny. The contents of this book may be regarded as a sort of moral diary, of which we ourselves are the unconscious recorders. By our conduct we are supplying material for each impression made upon it. We ourselves must be regarded as the writers. Surely this thought is fitted to impress us with the solemnity of life! The impression once made, no power of ours can blot it out. Seek, then, to do something that will keep the memory fragrant when you are gone, something for which God will own you at last.

III. THE REWARD PROMISED TO THE FAITHFUL. The faithful are likened to "jewels," and to "sons." The two ideas are "preciousness" and "likeness." They who were once polluted and impure are now as jewels, clean and bright, and they who were once rebels have now become sons. A jewel is a precious stone, ranked by its owner among his most valuable possessions. Its value depends partly on its nature, and partly on the labour bestowed on it in the process of refinement. What has God done for His people? They are now the crown-jewels of the King of kings. The highest reward of all is, that God's faithful people will be owned as sons. This involves that God's people will be like Him, and will be His heirs. The furnace of discipline will manifest the likeness by consuming the unlikeness.

(D. Merson, M. A. , B. D.)

The fidelity and steadfastness of man must rest on the fidelity and steadfastness of God. " He is faithful who hath promised," is a principle which underlies the whole relation of God the Redeemer to our race. We have considered the condition of the faithful few in Malachi's dark days. The sadder their estate, the darker the night around them, the more closely did they associate for communion and concert. The Lord was not unobservant of them. It was the Lord for whom they were enduring, who nerved them to endure. Three main features of description.

I. THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE. Probably the rudiment of this idea is to be found in Ezra 6:1-5. There was a roll found, on a critical occasion, "in the place which is in the province of the Medea," the remembrance of which the Jews would not willingly let die. What concerns us is the fundamental thought. It is precisely what the Lord declared of old to Moses, "I know thee by name, and thou hast found grace in My sight." Those who, like all these men, stake all on fidelity to God, are the upper ten thousand of the universe, the peerage of heaven, throughout eternity. God knows them by name as living persons. As friends He holds them dear. God's love is not for qualities, abstractions, any more than man's. He caused to be written in His book of remembrance, not a catalogue of their principles, but their names, their desideration, as living human souls. Trampled in the mire on earth, their names should be read out in heaven.

II. THE RECOGNITION OF THEIR SONSHIP. Perhaps the saddest thought of the righteous, in the midst of an ungodly world, springs from the sense of their own imperfectness, the feebleness of their witness, the languor of their zeal, the poverty of their work. The word son — "his own son" — reassures. A father's love wearies not and wanes not; a child's feeblest efforts please him better than a stranger's bravest work. "He will spare them," in the furnace of discipline; the Lord will temper its fierceness. In the battlefield of life, the Lord will be their strength and their shield. In the shadow of death, His rod and staff shall comfort them there. "They shall be Mine," — Mine for ever, "in the day when I make up My jewels."

III. THE DAY WHEN THE BOOK SHALL BE BROUGHT FORTH. "Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" is God's answer to the cry of many a faithful, patient spirit, who wins no recompense on earth but a cross. There is a life which can only be justified at the resurrection of the just. There is a life which has its full recompense here. "But thou shalt be recompensed," man of many tears, cares, and sorrows, weary and heavy laden. Long have the gems been buried in dust and darkness, encased in crusts of stone, enveloped in shrouds of vanity. The day comes when the Lord shall rend the shroud and crush the crust to fragments, and reveal His jewels before the universal gaze.

(Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

And that thought upon His name
The Preacher.
In a time of general corruption, when the priests themselves had depraved the law, and were enemies to true religion, and the common people were like them, there were a few of another spirit. Observe their character — such as "feared the Lord." What they did: "spake often one to another." They delighted in each other's good. How their minds were employed: "They thought upon His name." They were concerned for God's glory, and grieved over the dishonour of His name. What the Lord did for them: "He hearkened and heard." It was "written before Him," according to the custom of eastern kings, who kept records of all that was done for their honour.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THINKING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD IN A WAY THAT HE APPROVES? This expression is descriptive of the nature of true religion. What is repentance toward God, but thinking on His name with grief for. having dishonoured it. What is faith in Christ, but thinking on His name with delight, as revealed in the Gospel. What is love to God, but thinking on His name affectionately, and with the highest satisfaction. More especially, it includes an earnest and habitual concern for God's cause and interest in the world, and for the spread of the Gospel.

1. If we think on the name of the Lord in a way that He approves, all we do in religion will be directed to His glory.

2. We shall reckon no sacrifice too great for it.

3. We shall seek our own spiritual advantage in subordination to it. If we take care of God's honour, He will take care of our peace.


1. The Lord generally employs those who love His name as instruments in promoting His glory.

2. In seeing His name glorified, they find their own reward.

3. Their labours shall be remembered for good in this life, and even when they are gone to the grave.

4. At the last day the Judge will read out their names.(1) There is no true religion but where the name of the Lord is loved and adored.(2) No hope of being useful in the cause of God without a portion of this spirit.

(The Preacher.)


1. They "feared the Lord." In the Old Testament the true saints are described, not as those who love God, but as those who fear Him. In the New Testament saints are those who love God, rather than fear Him. The fear of the Lord is often used to express the whole of real religion, both in the holy affections which it communicates to the heart, and in the cheerful obedience which it produces on the life. It should never be forgotten that everything in religion is practical. Its great design is to conform us to the image of the Son of God.

2. They "spake often one to another." No doubt they frequently conversed about their recent deliverance from captivity. Sometimes they might speak to each other in the language of caution. It frequently happens that others can see dangers when we ourselves are blind to them. Our Lord sent forth His disciples, two by two, that they might caution and encourage each other, We are to bear one another's burdens; but it requires much wisdom and humility to do this well. It is our duty, not only to administer reproof and caution, but also to receive them in the same spirit. Sometimes they spoke to each other in the language of encouragement. By conversation with our fellow-Christians, we find out that no temptation has taken us but such as is common to men. God has chosen all His people in the furnace of affliction. Christian conversation encourages the heart. But, in intercourse of this kind, a peculiar delicacy and sanctity of feeling must be maintained, or we shall injure rather than benefit each other.

3. These people thought upon God's name. Our Saviour has told us, that "where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also." The bias of the Christian's affections is heavenward.

II. WHAT GOD THOUGHT OF THEM. He hearkened and heard. This means God attentively heard what His people said of Him to each other. What is it to which the Lord listens? He remembers His people. The saints are God's treasure. He spares them; rejoices over them; sanctifies them. He will spare them in the great day. There is much in this text encouraging to ministers, and much suggestive of self-inquiry.

(George Weight, B. A.)

Pulpit Treasury.
Bishop Thompson says, "Some Christians are like the rivers that flow into the Arctic Ocean — frozen over at the mouth." Have we not reason to suspect that the occasion in both cases is the same — coldness?

I. Christian conversation PLEASES GOD. It is plainly indicated that God is pleased when His people talk to each other tenderly about Him; that He listens. Why are Christians to-day so dumb? Love is not a dumb or silent thing. Love speaks. Why this hesitation when we speak of religion? Does it not seem strangely inconsistent in us? "The Lord hearkened and heard it." He listened while His children fondly talked of Him. Does it not please you to overhear some kind word spoken of yourself? Do not think your Heavenly Father indifferent to praise. He loves to see gratitude in our hearts; it greatly pleases Him to hear us talking one to another about His goodness.

II. Christian conversation BLESSES US. Nothing does one's own heart so much good as speaking kindly of another. Expressing love ever increases it.

III. Christian conversation BLESSES OTHERS. There are too many dumb Christians; for there is a vast power in our tongues if we will but use them aright. Who can estimate the power of kindly words to touch the heart and mould the life?

(Pulpit Treasury.)

This book of remembrance, like the jewels referred to in the next verse, was doubtless suggested by the customs of ancient courts. The king used to bring out and display his jewels on State occasions, and nearly, every Eastern monarch appointed an official journalist to keep a record of passing events. He was called the Court chronicler, and his business was to write the history of his times, especially the notable names and incidents. There was little room for the annals of the poor or for anything that touched the life of the common people. Now the prophet lifts the thought above that Court chronicler and book to another Book which is written before the King of kings, and he intimates that the doings recorded there belong to a different class: socially, much lower; morally and religiously, far higher. The pages of that other book are not devoted to the men who fill the exalted stations and make a great display of wealth and power; because, as the prophet tells us, in those times the high places were ruled by injustice, immorality, and irreligion. But there were a few people whom the searching eyes of God followed with tender love and approval, for the most part obscure people, lost in the crowd, and remote from the world of fashion; people whom the Court scribe would dismiss as so much dirt. But they were the only objects of interest to the greater King, for they alone in those godless times were living soberly, righteously, reverently, walking humbly in the fear of God, keeping the old religious fires burning and bravely maintaining their hold on faith and prayer through obloquy and persecution. They were like the few in Sardis who had not defiled their garments. Now, I need not tell you that this is not the only mention in the sacred Scriptures of that Book of Remembrance. In fact, we hear of it more or less all through the Bible. It appears as far back as Moses, who spoke of those who are written in God's Book; it is found more than once in the Psalms of David, who trusts that his very tears will be found written in the Book; it occurs in Isaiah and in other minor prophets, and it is always referred to, I think, as the Book which God keeps to record the doings and perhaps the sufferings also of His faithful ones who are forgotten or despised by the world. The thought is taken up and carried on by our blessed Lord Himself. Jesus says, "Their names are written in heaven"; and a dozen times at least in the Epistles and the Apocalypse there is mention made of certain unrecognised Christian workers, holy women and others, whose names are written in what is called the Book of Life, or the Lamb's Book of Life.

I. I venture to say to you this first, THAT THAT BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE MUST BY THIS TIME BE A PONDEROUS AND MANY-VOLUMED LIBRARY, if all the unchronicled workers and saints have been written down in it, because they are a company which no man can number. The saints whose names you find in the calendar and who figure in Church history are comparatively few, and they were not always the best and most saintly of their class. Some of them got canonised and admitted to the calendar by favouritism of pope and cardinal, and by what we vulgarly call backstairs influence, rather than by election and sanction of God. There were ten thousand times more, and perhaps better, saints whose names are only in heaven's calendar; in fact, the real history of God's kingdom has never been written by any human pen. You read the so-called history of the Church, ecclesiastical history, as produced by the labours and researches of a Mosheim or Neander, and it is often exceedingly unedifying reading and woefully disappointing. If it were the story of Christ's Church, it ought to be in the main the stow of lowly, self-forgetting, Christ-like men and women. Instead of that, you find the greater part of those pages devoted to the record of ambitions, envyings, strifes, heresies. You find there the carnal, the secular, and the worldly themes almost everywhere predominant. The true and beautiful story of the Church is not written there or in any book which is accessible to us, it is only written in God's Book of Remembrance; for surely the real makers and builders and defenders of the Church have been in all ages the men and women who patiently suffered for it, earnestly laboured for it, without thinking of gain or distinction. Those in all ages have kept the Church alive, preserved it as the salt of the earth, the light of the world. And yet they are not even known by name. There were a few notable men, never to be forgotten — Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Hooker — but most of them were obscure — cobblers, bachelors, weavers, unlearned Bible readers, lay preachers — and beneath the notice of the scribe. Their names are written in letters of glory in God's Book of Remembrance.

II. Now, so it has been all through Church history. I venture to say to you, secondly, that THE SAME THING SUBSTANTIALLY IS TRUE TO-DAY. Most of the noble and Christ-like deeds — all but an infinitesimal part of them — have no chance whatever of getting written down in any book except that unseen book on which the unseen hands are busy. Most of the brave, humble, self-denying lives which are spent in the service of Christ and humanity find no place whatever in the world's prints. I should think you all know that it is not always the best things that get most talked about; it is not always the grandest and divinest things that are pushed into notoriety and reported. A prayer-meeting is never reported; at least, I have never seen one reported. A round of visits among the sick, the sorrowful, and the dying — that never gets into print. A brave confession of Christ in the midst of an unbelieving company — nobody thinks of writing that down. If you are ambitious to have your names passed from mouth to mouth in the streets, and printed in large type in all the public journals, there are various ways of getting it done, some of them not too creditable. You can accomplish it by an extraordinary display of genius, or an extraordinary display of folly, and one will serve quite as well as the other. You won't do it by keeping the Ten Commandments, but you may do it by breaking some of them.

III. Now, may I say to you, lastly, that THIS CHEERING TRUTH CONTAINED IN OUR TEXT IS GIVEN TO BE AN INCENTIVE AND AN INSPIRATION TO ALL WHO ARE ENGAGED IN RELIGIOUS WORK, BUT ESPECIALLY TO THE LESS KNOWN AND TO THE UTTERLY UNDISTINGUISHED AMONG THEM. — and they always form, as you know too well, the vast majority? Most of you have to continue in well-doing without the least chance of flattering human recognition. A few leaders in religious work do shine a little, perhaps, in the public eye; that is, the generals in a great army are sometimes put on a pedestal, and they gain a little glory, but the rank and file, the private soldiers who do the rough marching, and most of the rough fighting too, there is very little glory for them either in ordinary warfare or in the greater warfare of the Captain of our salvation. It is very true of most of you, that if you are anxious to gain human praise for your fidelity to Christ, and the work you do in His name, you will be disappointed. Quiet devotion to the service of the Lord Christ does not fetch the gallery, to say the least of it; it does not bring plaudits from the pit. It is human genius that wins human praise, or intellectual cleverness, sometimes mere showiness; it is smartness that secures successes in the business world. The man who wins a walking match, or a motor-race, or a horse-race will win a hundred times more popular favour for the time being than the man who spends his life as the Divine One did who went about doing good. If in Christ's work men are dependent at all upon these things they frequently fall into dejection. Now, just think what it means to have your names and labours written in that Book of Remembrance. Well, it certainly means this — though a vast number of people would be perfectly astounded to hear it — it means that an earnest, zealous, Christ-loving, Christ-serving life, and its works of patience and faith, are deemed by heaven the things best worth recording and best deserving to be kept in remembrance. In those higher courts they are not absorbed and excited with the things that we poor mortals go mad about. Possibly they are not so profoundly interested as we are in the movements of presidents and rulers, in the startling speeches of politicians, and in the prospects of political parties, and certainly not in the revelations of the criminal court, the scandals of high life, and the result of the latest pedestrian contest. No doubt heaven sees all these things, because nothing is hid from the all-watchful eyes, but they stir no buzz of admiration in angelic circles, you may be sure. A young man in the city steadfastly resisting its temptations and keeping himself undefiled for Jesus' sake; a maiden bringing her life and laying it at the Master's feet, and vowing to love Him first and best; a girl in the shop or factory adorning her Christian profession amidst unchristian workmates; a business man holding his conscience and integrity amid all the shady doings and unveracities of the market and commercial life: these are the things which the heavenly penmen note down. We sometimes talk and, maybe, think that this Book of Remembrance — I have often heard it referred to in that way — is kept to record the base and the evil things: your own failures, the inconsistencies of your Christian life, the darker things. I declare this: the book is never once referred to in that way in the Bible. God has no wish, you may be sure, to keep a record of all failing and bad things; He has no delight in beholding, dwelling upon them. He tells us, indeed, that when our sins are once forgiven He forgets them; they are cast into the depths of the sea, and come into His mind no more. No, it is the fair and the better things of the Christian life and labours that find a place in that great book.

(J. G. Greenhough.)

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