Sermon 502. A Jealous God
Delivered on Sunday Morning, March 29th, 1863, by the
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"For the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God."-Exodus 34:14.
THE PASSION OF JEALOUSY IN MAN is usually exercised in an evil manner, but it is not in itself necessarily sinful. A man maybe zealously cautious of his honor, and suspiciously vigilant over another, without deserving blame. All thoughtful personswill agree that there is such a thing as virtuous jealousy. Self-love is, no doubt, the usual foundation of human jealousy,and it may be that Shenstone is right in his definition of it as "the apprehension of superiority," thefear lest another should by any means supplant us; yet the word "jealous" is so near akin to that noble word "zealous," that I am persuaded it must have something good in it. Certainly we learn from Scripture that there is such a thing as agodly jealousy. We find the Apostle Paul declaring to the Corinthian Church, "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy,for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." He had an earnest, cautious,anxious concern for their holiness, that the Lord Jesus might be honored in their lives. Let it be remembered then, thatjealousy, like anger, is not evil in itself, or it could never be ascribed to God; his jealousy is ever a pure and holy flame.The passion of jealousy possesses an intense force, it fires the whole nature, its coals are juniper, which have a most vehementflame; it resides in the lowest depths of the heart, and takes so firm a hold that it remains most deeply rooted until theexciting cause is removed; it wells up from the inmost recesses of the nature, and like a torrent irresistibly sweepsall before it; it stops at nothing, for it is cruel as the grave (Cant. 8:6), it provokes wrath to the utmost, for it is the rage of a man, therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance (Proverbs 6:34), and it over throws everything in the pursuit of its enemy, for "wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is ableto stand before jealousy?" For all these reasonsjealousy is selected as some faint picture of that tender regard which God has for His own Deity, honor, and supremacy,and the holy indignation which he feels towards those who violate his laws, offend his majesty, or impeach his character.Not that God is jealous so as to bring him down to the likeness of men, but that this is the nearest idea we can form of whatthe Divine Being feels-if it be right to use even that word toward him-when he beholds his throne occupied by false gods,hisdignity insulted, and his glory usurped by others. We cannot speak of God except by using figures drawn from his works,or our own emotions; we ought, however, when we use the images, to caution ourselves and those who listen to us, against theidea that the Infinite mind is really to be compassed and described by any metaphors however lofty, or language however weighty.We might not have ventured to use the word, "jealousy" in connection with the Most High, but as we find it so many times inScripture, let us with solemn awe survey this mysterious display of the Divine mind. Methinks I hear the thundering wordsof Nahum, "God is jealous and the Lord revengeth, the Lord revengeth and is furious, the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries,and he reseryeth wrath for his enemies." My soul be thou humbled before the Lord and tremble at his name!
I. Reverently, let us remember that THE LORD IS EXCEEDINGLY JEALOUS OF HIS DEITY.
Our text is coupled with the command-"Thou shalt worship no other God." When the law was thundered from Sinai, the secondcommandment received force from the divine jealousy-"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anythingthat is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bowdown thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." Since he is the onlyGod, the Creator of heaven and earth, he cannot endure that any creature of his own hands, or fiction of a creature'simagination should be thrust into his throne, and be made to wear his crown. In Ezekiel we find the false god described as"the image of jealousy which provoketh to jealousy," and the doom on Jerusalem for thus turning from Jehovah runs thus, "Mineeye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head." False gods patiently enduretheexistence of other false gods. Dagon can stand with Bel, and Bel with Ashtaroth; how should stone, and wood, and silver,be moved to indignation; but because God is the only living and true God, Dagon must fall before his ark; Bel must be broken,and Ashtaroth must be consumed with fire. Thus saith the Lord, "Ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cutdown their groves;" the idols he shall utterly abolish. My brethren, do you marvel at this? I felt in my own soul whilemeditating upon this matter an intense sympathy with God. Can you put yourselves in God's place for a moment? Supposethat you had made the heavens and the earth, and all the creatures that inhabit this round globe; how would you feel if thosecreatures should set up an image of wood, or brass, or gold, and cry, "These are the gods that made us; these things giveus life." What-a dead piece of earth set up in rivalry with real Deity! What must be the Lord's indignation against infatuatedrebels when they so far despise him as to set up a leek, or an onion, or a beetle, or a frog, preferring to worship thefruit of their own gardens, or the vermin of their muddy rivers, rather than acknowledge the God in whose hand their breathis, and whose are all their ways! Oh! it is a marvel that God hath not dashed the world to pieces with thunderbolts, whenwe recollect that even to this day milhons of men have changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made liketocorruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. With what unutterable contempt must the livingGod look down upon those idols which are the work of man's hands-"They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, butthey see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: they have hands, but they handle not:feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat." God hath longsuffering toward men, and hepatiently endureth this madness of rebelhon; but, oh! what patience must it be which can restrain the fury of his jealousy,for he is a jealous God, and brooks no rival. It was divine jealousy which moved the Lord to bring all his plagues on Egypt.Careful reading will show you that those wonders were all aimed at the gods of Egypt. The people were tormented by the verythings which they had made to be their deities, or else, as in the case of the murrain, their sacred animals were themselvessmitten, even as the Lord had threatened-"Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am Jehovah." Was itnot the same with ancient Israel? Why were they routed before their enemies? Why was their land so often invaded? Why didfamine follow pestilence, and war succeed to famine? Only because "they provoked him to anger with their high places, andmoved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was Froth, and greatly abhorred Israel." (Psalm 78:58-59.) Howwas it that at the last the Lord gave up Jerusalem to the flames, and bade the Chaldeans carry into captivity the remnantof his people? How was it that he abhorred his heritage, and gave up Mount Zion to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles?Did not Jeremiah tell them plainly that because they had walked after other gods and forsaken Jehovah, therefore he wouldcast them out into a land which they knew not?
Brethren, the whole history of the human race is a record of the wars of the Lord against idolatry. The right hand of theLord hath dashed in pieces the enemy and cast the ancient idols to the ground. Behold the heaps of Nineveh! Search for thedesolations of Babylon! Look upon the broken temples of Greece! See the ruins of Pagan Rome! Journey where you will, you beholdthe dilapidated temples of the gods and the ruined empires of their foolish votaries. The moles and thebats have covered with forgetfulness the once famous deities of Chaldea and Assyria. The Lord hath made bare his arm andeased him of his adversaries, for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
With what indignation, then, must the Lord look down upon that apostate harlot, called the Romish Church, when, in all her sanctuaries, there are pictures and images, relics and slivines, and poor infatuated beings are even taughtto bow before a piece of bread. In this country, Popish idolatry is not so barefaced and naked as it is in other lands; butI have seen it, and my soul has been moved with indignation like that of Paul on Mars' Hill, when he saw the citywholly to idolatry; I have seen thousands adore the wafer, hundreds bow before the image of the Virgin, scores at prayerbefore a crucifix, and companies of men and women adoring a rotten bone or a rusty nail, because said to be the relic of asaint. It is vain for the Romanist to assert that he worships not the things themselves, but only the Lord through them, forthis the second commandment expressly forbids, and it is upon this point that the Lord calls himself a jealous God. How fullisthat cup which Babylon must drink; the day is hastening when the Lord shall avenge himself upon her, because her iniquitieshave reached unto heaven, and she hath blasphemously exalted her Pope into the throne of the Host High, and thrust her priestsinto the office of the Lamb. Purge yourselves, purge yourselves of this leaven. I charge you before God, the Judge of quickand dead, if ye would not be partakers of her plagues, come out from her more and more, and let your protest be increasinglyvehement against this which exalteth itself above all that is called God. Let our Protestant Churches, which have toogreat a savoar of Popery in them, cleanse themselves of her fornications, lest the Lord visit them with fire and pour theplagues of Babylon upon them. Renounce, my brethren, every ceremony which has not Scripture for its warrant, and every doctrinewhich is not established by the plain testimony of the Word of God. Let us, above all, never by any sign, or word, or deed,haveany complicity with this communion of devils, this gathering together of the sons of Behal: and since our God is a jealousGod, let us not provoke him by any affinity, gentleness, fellowship, or amity with this Mother of Harlots and abominationsof the earth.
With what jealousy must the Lord regard the great mass of the people of this country, who have another God beside himself! With what indignation doth he look upon many of you who are subject to the prince ofthe power of the air, the god of this world! To you Jehovah is nothing. God is not in all your thoughts; you have no fearof Him before your eyes. Like the men of Israel, you have set up your idols in your heart. Your god is custom, fashion, business,pleasure, ambition, honor. You have made unto yourselves gods of these things; you have said, "These be thy gods, O Israel."Ye follow after the things which perish, the things of this world, which are vanity. O ye sons of men, think not that Godis blind. He can perceive the idols in your hearts; he understandeth what be the secret things that your souls lust after;he searcheth your heart, he trieth your reins; beware lest he find you sacrificing to strange gods, for his anger will smokeagainst you, and his jealousy will be stirred. O ye that worship not God, the God of Israel, who give him not dominionover your whole soul, and live not to his honor, repent ye of your idolatry, seek mercy through the blood of Jesus, and provokenot the Lord to jealousy any more.
Even believers may be reproved on this subject. God is very jealous of his deity in the hearts of his own people. Mother, what will he sayof you, if that darling child occupies a more prominent place in your love than your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Husband,what shall he say to you, and with what stripes shall he smite you, when your wife reigns as a goddess in your spirit? Andwife, thou shouldest love thy husband-thou doest well in so doing; but if thouexaltest him above God, if thou makest him to have dominion over thy conscience, and art willing to forsake thy Lord toplease him, then thou hast made to thyself another god, and God is jealous with thee. Ay, and we may thus provoke him withthe dead as well as with the living. A grief carried to excess, a grief nurtured until it prevents our attention to duty,a grief which makes us murmur and repine against the will of Providence is sheer rebelhon; it hath in it the very spirit ofidolatry;it will provoke the Lord to anger, and he will surely chasten yet again, until our spirit becomes resigned to his rod."Hast thou not forgiven God yet?" was the language of an old Quaker when he saw a widow who for years had worn her weeds,and was inconsolable in her grief-"Hast thou not forgiven God yet?" We may weep under bereavements, for Jesus wept; but wemust not sorrow so as to provoke the Lord to anger, we must not act as if our friends were more precious to us than our God.We arepermitted to take solace in each other, but when we carry love to idolatry, and put the creature into the Creator's place,and rebel, and fret, and bitterly repine, then the Lord hath a rod in his hand, and he will make us feel its weight, for heis a jealous God. I fear there are some professors who put their house, their garden, their business, their skill, I knownot what, at seasons into the place of God. It were not consistent with the life of godliness for a man to be perpetuallyanidolater, but even true believers will sometimes be overcome with this sin, and will have to mourn over it. Brethren,set up no images of jealousy, but like Jacob of old cry to yourselves and to your famihes, "Put away the strange gods thatare among you, and be clean." Let me warn those of you who neglect this that if you be the Lord's people you shall soon smartfor it, and the sooner the better for your own salvation; while, on the other hand, to those ungodly persons who continueto livefor objects other than divine, let me say, you not only smart in this life by bitter disappointments, but you shall alsosuffer eternal wrath in the life to come.
Come, let me push this matter home upon your consciences; let me carry this as at point of bayonet. Why, my hearers, thereare some of you who never worship God. I know you go up to his house, but then it is only to be seen, or to quiet your conscienceby having done your duty. How many of you merchants aim only to accumulate a fortune! How many of you tradesmen are livingonly for your famihes! How many young men breathe only for pleasure! How many young women exist onlyfor amusement and vanity. I fear that some among you make your belly your god, and bow down to your own personal charmsor comforts. Talk of idolaters! They are here to-day! If we desire to preach to those who break the first and second commandmentswe have no need to go to Hindostan, or traverse the plains of Africa. They are here. Unto you who bow not before the Lordlet these words be given, and let them ring in your ears-"The Lord whose name is jealous, is a jealous God." Who shall standbefore him when once he is angry? When his jealousy burneth like fire and smoketh like a furnace, who shall endure theday of his wrath. Beware, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Dreadful shall it be for you, if at thelast you shall behold an angry God sitting in judgment. Pause now and meditate upon your doom, and think you see the Almightyrobed in tempest and whirlwind.
"His throne a seat of dreadful wrath,
Girt with devouring flame;
The Lord appears consuming fire,
And Jealous is his name."
God save you for Jesus' sake.
II. The Lord IS JEALOUS OF HIS SOVEREIGNTY.
He that made heaven and earth has a right to rule his creatures as he wills. The potter hath power over the clay to fashionit according to his own good pleasure, and the creatures being made are bound to be obedient to their Lord. He has a rightto issue commands, he has done so-they are holy, and just, and wise; men are bound to obey, but, alas, they continually revoltagainst his sovereignty, and will not obey him; nay, there be men who deny altogether that he islying of kings, and others who take counsel together saying, "Let us break his bands in sunder, and cast away his cordsfrom us." He that sitteth in the heavens is moved to jealousy by these sins, and will defend the rights of his crown againstall comers, for the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
This reminds us of the Lord's hatred of sin. Every time we sin, we do as much as say, "I do not acknowledge God to be my sovereign; I will do as I please." Each timewe speak an ill-word we really say, "My tongue is my own, he is not Lord over my lips." Yea, and everytime the human heartwandereth after evil, and lusteth for that which is forbidden, it attempts to dethrone God, and to set up the Evil One inhis place. The language of sin is "Who is the Lord that Ishould obey his voice; I will not have God to reign over me." Sin is a deliberate treason against the majesty of God,an assault upon his crown, an insult offered to his throne. Some sins, especially, have rebelhon written on their forehead-presumptuoussins, when a man's conscience has been enlightened, and he knows better, and yet still forsakes the good and follows afterevil; when a man's conscience has been aroused through some judgment, or sickness, or under a faithful ministry; if thatman returns, like a dog to his vomit, he has, indeed, insulted the sovereignty of God. But have we not all done this,and are there not some here in particular of whom we once had good hope, but who have turned back again to crooked ways? Arethere not some of you who, Sabbath after Sabbath, get your consciences so quickened that you cannot be easy in sin as othersare and though you may, perhaps, indulge in sin, yet it costs you very dearly, for you know better? Did I not hear of onewho sitsin these seats often, but is as often on the ale bench? Did I not hear of another who can sing with us the hymns of Zion,but is equally at home with the lascivious music of the drunkard? Do we not know of some who in their business are anythingbut what they should be, yet for a show can come up to the house of God? Oh, sirs, oh, sirs, ye do provoke the Lord to jealousy!Take heed, for when he cometh out of his resting-place, and taketh to himself his sword and buckler, who are you that youshould stand before the dread majesty of His presence! Tremble and be still! Humble yourselves, and repent of this yoursin.
Surely, if sin attacks the sovereignty of God, self-righteousness is equally guilty of treason: for as sin boasts, "I will not keep God's law," self-righteousness exclaims, "I will not be saved in God's way; I will makea new road to heaven; I will not bow before God's grace; I will not accept the atonement which God has wrought out in theperson of Jesus; I will be my own redeemer; I will enter heaven by my own strength, and glorify my own merits." The Lord isverywroth against self-righteousness. I do not know of anything against which his fury burneth more than against this, becausethis touches him in a very tender point, it insults the glory and honor of his Son Jesus Christ. Joshua said to the childrenof Israel when they promised to keep the law-"Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; and hewill not forgive your transgressions nor your sins." So I may well say to every self-righteous person, "You cannot keep thelaw, for God is a jealous God," carefully marking every fault, and just to mark your iniquities; nor will he forgive youriniquities so long as you attempt to win his favor by works of law. Throw away thy self-righteousness, thou proud one; castit with all other idols to the moles and to the bats, for there is no hope for thee so long as thou dost cling to it. Self-righteousnessis in itself the very height and crowning-point of rebelhon against God. For a man to say, "Lord, I have notsinned," is the gathering-up, the emphasis, the climax of iniquity, and God's jealousy is hot against it.
Let me add, dear friends, I feel persuaded that false doctrine, inasmuch as it touches God's sovereignty, is always an object of divine jealousy. Let me indicate especially the doctrinesof free-will. I know there are some good men who hold and preach them, but I am persuaded that the Lord must be grieved withtheir doctrine though he forgives them their sin of ignorance. Free-will doctrine-what does it? It magnifies man into God;it declares God's purposes anullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God's will a waiting servant to the will ofman, and the whole covenant of grace dependent upon human action. Denying election on the ground of injustice it holds Godto be a debtor to sinners, so that if he gives grace to one he is bound to do so to all. It teaches that the blood of Christwas shed equally for all men and since some are lost, this doctrine ascribes the difference to man's own will, thus makingtheatonement itself a powerless thing until the will of man gives it efficacy. Those sentiments dilute the scriptural descriptionof man's depravity, and by imputing strength to fallen humanity, rob the Spirit of the glory of his effectual grace: thistheory says in effect that it is of him that willeth, and of him that runneth, and not of God that showeth mercy. Any doctrine, my brethren, which standsin opposition to this truth-"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy," provokesGod's jealousy. I often tremble in this pulpit lest I should utter anything which should oppose the sovereignty of myGod; and though you know I am not ashamed to preach the responsibility of man to God-if God be a sovereign, man must be boundto obey him-on the other hand, I am equally bold to preach that God has a right to do what he wills with his own, that hegiveth no account of his matters and none may stay his hand, or say unto him, "What doest thou?" I believe that the free-willheresy assails the sovereignty of God, and mars the glory of his dominion. In all faithfulness, mingled with sorrow, Ipersuade you who have been deluded by it, to see well to your ways and receive the truth which sets God on high, and laysthe creature in the dust. "The Lord reigneth," be this our joy. The Lord is our King, let us obey him and defend to the deaththe crown rights of the lying of kings, for he is a jealous God.
While tarrying upon this subject, I ought also to remark that all the boastings of ungodly men, whenever they exalt themselves, seeing that they are a sort of claim of sovereignty, must be very vexatious to God, the Judgeof all. When you glory in your own power, you forget that power belongeth only unto God, and you provoke his jealousy. Whenkings, parhaments, or synods, trespass upon the sacred domains of conscience, and say to men, "Bow down, that we may go overyou"-when we make attempts to lord over another man's judgment, and to make our own opinions supreme, the Lord is movedto jealousy, for he retains the court of conscience for himself alone to reign in. Let us humbly bow before the dignity ofthe Most High, and pay our homage at his feet.
"Glory to th' eternal King,
Clad in majesty supreme!
Let all heaven his praises sing,
Let all worlds his power proclaim.
O let my transported soul
Ever on his glories gaze!
Ever yield to his control,
Ever sound his lofty praise!"
Let us crown him every day! Let our holy obedience, let our devout lives, let our hearty acquiescence in all his will, letour reverent adoration before the greatness of his majesty, all prove that we acknowledge him to be King of kings, and Lordof lords, lest we provoke a jealous God to anger.
III. THE LORD IS JEALOUS OF HIS GLORY.
God's glory is the result of his nature and acts. He is glorious in his character, for there is such a store of everythingthat is holy, and good, and lovely in God, that he must be glorious. The actions which flow from his character, the deedswhich are the outgoings of his inner nature, these are glorious too; and the Lord is very careful that all flesh should seethat he is a good, and gracious, and just God; and he is mindfill, too, that his great and mighty actsshould not give glory to others, but only to himself.
How, careful, then, should we be when we do anything for God, and God is pleased to accept of our doings, that we never congratulateourselves. The minister of Christ should unrobe himself of every rag of praise. "You preached well," said a friend to Jolin Bunyan onemorning. "You are too late," said honest Jolin, "the devil told me that before I left the pulpit." The devil often tells God'sservants a great many things which they should be sorry to hear. Why, youcan hardly be useful in a Sunday School but he will say to you-"How well you have done it!" You can scarcely resist atemptation, or set a good example, but he will be whispering to you-"What an excellent person you must be!" It is, perhaps,one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence-"Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy name beglory." Now God is so jealous on this point that, while he will forgive his own servants a thousand things, this is an offensefor which he is sure to chasten us. Let a believer once say, "I am," and God will soon make him say "I am not." Let aChristian begin to boast, "I can do all things," without adding "through Christ which strengtheneth me," and before long hewill have to groan, "I can do nothing," and bemoan himself in the dust. Many of the sins of true Christians, I do not doubt,have been the result of their glorifying themselves. Many a man has been permitted by God to stain a noble character and toruin anadmirable reputation, because the character and the reputation had come to be the man's own, instead of being laid, asall our crowns must be laid, at the feet of Christ. Thou mayest build the city, but if thou sayest with Nebuchadnezzar, "Beholdthis great Babylon which I have builded!" thou shalt be smitten to the earth. The worms which ate Herod when he gave not Godthe glory are ready for another meal; beware of vain glory!
How careful ought we to be to walk humbly before the Lord. The moment we glorify ourselves, since there is room for one glory only in the universe, we set ourselves up as rivals tothe Most High. Penitent souls are always accepted, because they are not in God's way; proud souls are always rejected, becausethey are in God's way. Shall the insect of an hour glorify itself against the Sun which warmed it into life? Shall the potsherdexalt itself above the man thatfashioned it upon the wheel? Shall the dust of the desert strive with the whirlwind? Or the drops of the ocean strugglewith the tempest? O thou nothingness and vanity, thou puny mortal called man, humble thyself and reverence thy Great Creator.
Let us see to it that we never misrepresent God, so as to rob him of his honour. If any minister shall preach of God so as to dishonor him, God will be jealous against that man. I fear that the Lord hathheavy wrath against those who lay the damnation of man at God's door, for they dishonor God, and he is very jealous of hisname. And those, on the other hand, who ascribe salvation to man must also be heavily beneath God's displeasure, for theytake from him hisglory. Ah, thieves! ah, thieves! will ye dare to steal the crown-jewels of the universe! Whither go ye, whither bear yethe bright pearls which ought to shine upon the brow of Christ? To put them on the brow of man? Stop! stop! for the Lord willnot give his glory to another! Give unto the Lord, all ye righteous, give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto himthe honor that is due unto his name! Any doctrine which does not give all the honor to God must provoke him to jealousy.
Be careful, dear friends, that you do not misrepresent God yourselves. You who murmur; you who say that God deals hardly with you, you give God an ill character; when you look so melancholy, worldlingssay, "The religion of Jesus is intolerable;" and so you stain the honor of God. Oh, do not do this, for he is a jealous God,and he will surely use the rod upon you if you do.
A flash of holy pleasure crosses my mind. I am glad that he is a jealous God. It is enough to make us walk very carefully,but, at the same time, it should make us very joyful to think that the Lord is very jealous of his own honor. Then, brethren,if we believe in Christ, you and I are safe, because it would dishonor him if we were not; for his own name's sake and forhis faithfulness' sake, he will never leave one of his people; since "His honor is engaged to save themeanest of his sheep." Now, if Christ could trifle with his own honor, if he had no jealousy, you and I might be afraidthat he would suffer us to perish; but it never shall be. It shall be said on earth and sung in heaven at the last, that Godhas suffered no dishonorable defeats from the hands of either men or devils. "I chose my people," saith the Eternal Father,"and they are mine now that I make up my jewels." "I bought my people," saith the eternal Son, "I became a surety for thembeforethe Most High, and the infernal hon could not rend the meanest of the sheep." "I quickened my people," saith the HolySpirit; the temptations of hell could not throw them down; their own corruptions could not overpower them; I have gotten thevictory in every one of them, not one of them is lost; they are all brought safely to my right hand." Hide yourselves, then,under the banner of Jehovah's jealousy. It is bloody red, I know; its ensign bears a thunderbolt and a flame of fire; buthideyourselves, hide yourselves under it, for what enemy shall reach you there? If it be to God's glory to save me, I am entrenchedbehind munitions of stupendous rock. If it would render God inglorious to let me, a poor sinner, descend into hell; if itwould open the mouths of devils and make men say that God is not faithful to his promise, then am I secure, for God's gloryis wrapped up with my salvation, and the one cannot fail because the other cannot be tarnished. Beloved, let us mind thatwebe very jealous of God's glory ourselves since he is jealous of it. Let us say with Elijah-"I am very jealous for theLord God of hosts." May our lives, and conduct, and conversation prove that we are jealous of our hearts lest they shouldonce depart from him; and may we smite with stern and unrelenting hand every sin and every thought of pride that might touchthe glory of our gracious God; living to him as living before a jealous God.
IV. In the highest sense, THE LORD IS JEALOUS OVER HIS OWN PEOPLE.
Let me only hint, that human jealousy, although it will exercise itself over man's reputation, rights, and honor, hath oneparticularly tender place: jealousy guardeth, like an armed man, the marriage-covenant. A suspicion here is horrible. Even good old Jacob, when he came to die, could not look upon his son Reuben without rememberinghis offense. "He went up to my couch," said the old man-and, as if the remembrance was too painful for him, he hurried onfromReuben to the next. The Lord has been graciously pleased to say of his people, "I am married unto you." The covenant ofgrace is a marriage-covenant, and Christ's Church has become his spouse. It is here that God's jealousy is peculiarly liableto take fire. Men cannot be God's favourites without being the subjects of his watchfulness and jealousy: that which mightbe looked over in another will be chastened in a member of Christ. As a husband is jealous of his honor, so is the Lord Jesusmuchconcerned for the purity of his Church.
The Lord Jesus Christ, of whom I now speak, is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he not choose you? He cannot hear that you should choose another. Did he not buy you with his own blood?He cannot endure that you should think you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love thathe could not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than that you should perish; he stripped himself to nakednessthat he might clothe youwith beauty; he bowed his face to shame and spitting that he might lift you up to honor and glory, and he cannot endurethat you should love the world, and the things of the world. His love is strong as death towards you, and therefore will becruel as the grave. He will be as a cruel one towards you if you do not love him with a perfect heart. He will take away thathusband; he will smite that child; he will bring you from riches to poverty, from health to sickness, even to the gates ofthegrave, because he loves you so much that he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart's love and him.Be careful Christians, you that are married to Christ; remember, you are married to a jealous husband.
He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He will not endure that you should hew out broken cisterns, when theoverflowing fountain is always free to you. When we come up from the wilderness leaning upon our Beloved, then is our Belovedglad, but when we go down to the wilderness leaning on some other arm; when we trust in our own wisdom or the wisdom of afriend-worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, he isangry, and will smite us with heavy blows that he may bring us to himself.
He is also very jealous of our company. It were well if a Christian could see nothing but Christ. When the wife of a Persian noble had been invited to the coronationof Darius, the question was asked of her by her husband-"Did you not think the king a most beautiful man?" and her answerwas-"I cared not to look at the king; my eyes are for my husband only, for my heart is his." The Christian should say thesame. There is nothing beneath the spacious arch ofheaven comparable to Christ: there should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide in him only,this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find solace in our comforts, to be loving this evil world, this is vexingto our jealous Lord. Do you not believe that nine out of ten of the troubles and pains of believers are the result of theirlove to some other person than Christ? Nail me to thy cross, thou bleeding Savior! Put thy thorn-crown upon my head to bea hedgeto keep my thoughts within its bound! O for a fire to burn up all my wandering loves. O for a seal to stamp the name ofmy Beloved indelibly upon my heart! O love divine expel from me all carnal worldly loves, and fill me with thyself!
Dear friends, let this jealousy which should keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if we be married to Christ, and he be jealous of us, depend upon it this jealous husband will let none touch his spouse.Joel tells us that the Lord is jealous for his land, and Zechariah utters the word of the Lord, "I am jealous for Jerusalem,and for Zion with a great jealousy;" and then he declares that he will punish the heathen. And will he not avenge his ownelectwho cry unto him day and night? There is not a hard word spoken but the Lord shall avenge it! There is not a single deeddone against us, but the strong hand of him who once died but now lives for us, shall take terrible vengeance upon all hisadversaries. I am not afraid for the Church of God! I tremble not for the cause of God! Our jealous Husband will never lethis Church be in danger, and if any smite her he will give them double for every blow. The gates of hell shall not prevailagainsthis Church, but she shall prevail against the gates of hell. Her jealous Husband shall roll away her shame; her reproachshall be forgotten; her glory shall be fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners, for he thatis jealous of himself is jealous for her fair fame. The subject is large and deep; let us prove that we understand it, byhenceforth walking very carefully; and if any say "Why are you so precise?" let this be our answer-"I serve a jealous God."