Sermon 3527. The Divided Heart
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 31, 1916,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S DAY EVENING, APRIL 14, 1872.
"Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty." Hosea 10:2.
THIS was originally spoken of the Kingdom of Israel. For many years they had been under a king who commanded the worship ofBaal and persecuted the worshippers of Jehovah. God chastened the people very sorely for this, but He did not utterly destroythem. At last Hoshea, the king, came to the throne. He was the last king of Israel and it is very remarkable that it is saidof him that he was much better than those who went before him. He did not evil in the sight of the Lord after the manner ofJeroboam, the son of Nebat. He was not what could be wished, but still he was not like the rest-and it seems very odd to aperson who reads it casually that God should spare the nation under worse kings-and then should carry it away into captivitywhen they had, for once, a far better king! But the matter is explained thus. Ho-shea withdrew the curse of persecution fromthe people and they were left free to follow Jehovah.
While they were persecuted-compelled to worship Baal-God, as it were, had compassion upon them. He abhorred their idolatry,but still His anger did not burn against them to the same degree as it did afterwards when they were left to do as they pleased,religious persecution was withdrawn and the pressure was taken off. Then, when there began to be internal discussion and strife-andsome went after the true God, but others still followed the old idol- then it was that God saw that the nation was incurable.They were altogether set upon evil and He said, "Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty." Or it might be read, "Nowshall they be condemned." From which I gather that a sin in a certain case may be overlooked for a while, but the same sinunder another circumstance may be speedily punished. God knows the circumstances of temptation in which a man may be placed,and though the force of temptation is not an excuse for sin, it may serve as a mitigation of it. A person under a tyrannizingpower who is driven to sin by fear may be far less guilty than another who is under no such constraint, but who willfully,of his own heart, chooses the evil. And God may bear a long time with the same sin in a man under certain circumstances, whichin another, under different circumstances, shall provoke Him at once to anger-and He shall sweep the man from off the faceof the earth! Beware, dear Hearers, of deliberate sin! Beware of the sin which is of your own choosing! I may say, bewareof all sin, for in a measure it is deliberate and of your own choosing-but especially that sin which is not brought upon youby any pressure, but simply by your own willful disobedience to God! This is a crying sin and one which God will not longput up with!
And now I shall take the language of the text and apply it in other ways. "Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty."
I. THIS MAY BE TRUE OF ANY CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
It has long been my joy, Beloved in the Lord, that our heart has not been divided. We have walked together these many yearsin holy fellowship and, imperfect as we are, yet there have not been divisions among us. There has been no division aboutDoctrine. We have agreed upon the great Truths of God. There has been, I believe, no division about who shall be the greatest.We have been content, each one, to occupy his place in the Church and to work on. It is not our goodness that has made itso-it is only the power of God's Spirit which has kept us, who otherwise might readily have been divided-kept us as the heartof one man in sacred unity. Oh, let it always be so-let it always be so! May these eyes be closed in the darkness of deathlong before I shall see you contending, the one against the other! If it should ever happen that I should be unfit to go inand out among you to your edification, may I be laid aside and some other found round whom you may rally as one man, thatby any means and every means the Church may be kept in its integrity-one in heart-a threefold cord which cannot be broken!Let each man endeavor to avoid giving offense to his brother. Let us
all be members unto edification of the same one Lord, one faith, one Baptism. May the same Spirit abide in us and work withus to God's Glory, for we well know that a divided Church is found guilty. It is guilty so far as anything like usefulnessis concerned. The strength that is spent in division is so much taken away from service. When the children of God use theirswords against one another, they are not using them against the adversaries of the Lord. May our strength never be spent indivision. A house divided against itself must come to nothing, but strong in the unity which God shall give us may we notbe found guilty! I will not dwell upon that, however, but remark that the text- II. MAY BE USED, AGAIN, OF EACH INDIVIDUALCHRISTIAN.
One-heartedness in a Christian is a great point. "Unite my heart to fear Your name" is a prayer which every Christian shouldalways pray. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." A double-hearted Christian-what shall I say of him? He islike the eye which when it is single, fills the body with light, but if it has lost its singleness, it causes the body tobe in darkness-and if the light that is in us is darkness, how great is that darkness! Though a Christian, deep down in hissoul, cannot be divided in heart, but must love his God, yet there may be very much of division of pursuit, division of aimand objectives in Christians. And, Brothers and Sisters, may I not suggest that it may be so with some of you, that your heartsmay be divided and, therefore, you are found guilty? Take the Christian who desires to serve God, but still is equally desirousto amass wealth. Such a man-may God not put him into the scales and judge him, for I fear he will be found wanting-but ifhis desire for wealth is ever subordinate to that of the Gory of God only in a slight degree, he will never attain to anygreat eminence in the Divine Life. He cannot! In proportion as his vital force is divided and drawn away from the main businessof life, he will become spiritually lean, even if he becomes peculiarity rich. He may be a millionaire in the world, but hewill be a pauper in the Church. He may be a "strong" man in the market, but he shall be a very dwarf in the House of God!There will sure to be a guiltiness where the heart is so divided! The most charitable construction we can put upon it is thatthere are darker evils!
We have known Christians, too, whose objective in life has been the large acquiring of knowledge, the pursuit of science,the gathering up of information. This, like the pursuit of wealth, is lawful enough in its subordinate place, but when itcomes into rivalry with the seeking of the Glory of God, the man may become a scholar, but he will never become a beloveddisciple that leans his head upon Jesus' bosom! He may be great in the classics and he may be a master in the sciences, buthe will never be a master in Israel! The division of his vital powers, the lack of concentration will be sure to keep himin the rear ranks of the Church of God-if he is kept there. Oh, what a blessed thing it is to see a wholehearted Christian,who, while he pursues his present business, still pursues it for God's Glory! While he studies and stores his mind, is doingit for one objective, namely, that he may be thereby more useful to the Church of God and more helpful in the winning of souls!Give the man but one heart, one objective, and he is a man! Someone has said that he dreaded the man of one book-and so thewicked world may dread the man of one objective if that one objective is the Glory of God! They that have two targets to shootat shall not strike either-they miss their aim-but he who lives only for God with all his might is like a thunderbolt launchedfrom Jehovah's hand that goes crashing through every difficulty and reaches the point God aims at-and that the man, himself,seeks! He shall live for something! He shall count upon his age! He shall leave his mark! The man with an undivided heart-heshall not be found guilty. But he that is this and that-a follower of Christ, but yet something over and above that, almostequally as much the other, as he is a Christian-he shall be a poor, poor thing! He shall not enjoy the light of fellowshipwith God. He shall not walk in nearness to Christ. He shall be saved, but "so as by fire." No "abundant entrance" shall beadministered to him into the Kingdom of God, our Father.
I believe, dear Friends, and I will go a step further using the same words, that this case, if it should happen to be thatof a minister with a divided heart, is more sad than it is in the case of the common Christian. Dear Brothers, those of uswho believe that we are called to be ministers for Christ are, above all the rest of the Church, bound to devote ourselvesto one thing. "This one thing I do." If other men have two things to do, we, by our call and office, if we are not liars inprofessing to be of God, and traitors to our office, are bound to do but one thing-and that is to free ourselves from theblood of all men that we may stand before God as His honest servants. You may depend upon it that a minister with his heartat all divided will make a failure of his ministry. It must be so. I have watched the career of a good many young men, thoughnot old, myself, [Spurgeon was near 36] and I remember one with remarkable abilities. In his preaching there was a good clearsound of the Gospel. But I, who was as a father to him, noted that he had an ambitious desire to be
distinguished as a speaker. I saw that even when he sought to win souls, it was with a view that persons might say how earnesthe was. I could not help detecting in his conversation that there was an evident objective to make himself something, thathe might be great in Israel. And I remember well how I walked with him and warned him that if God's servant did anything whateverfor himself, God would not use him for His Divine purposes. That if we sacrificed to our pride, God would not let us standas priests at His altar. That if we would be honored, we must stay down, stay humble-that God would not long bless a man whowas self-seeking, even in the ministry of Christ. The warnings he received very kindly, but they never sank into his heart,and I can see him now! He is not here, but were he here I think he would confess the truth of what I say. He lies a miserablewreck upon the shore and he has fallen by his ambition! Had it not been for that, I would have conceived for him a high andexcellent career. And I would say to every minister, "I charge you fling away your ambition! Your only ambition must be tobe nothing, to be hated, scouted, called a fool, a driveller, if by any means you may win souls for Christ! But to cultivaterhetoric, to be an orator, to study that you may be thought to be a profound thinker, to labor earnestly with this idea thatyou may be esteemed to be a first-class soul-winner-even that is bad! The only thing is to seek to do what God would haveyou do and to glorify Him-to lay every honor at His feet and live for Him, for any sort of division in the Christian minister'spursuit may make him faulty." I believe that the man who gives himself to be a preacher should divest himself of the caresof this life, as the soldier does in the army, that he may be able to give his whole soul and life to the one matter for whichhis Lord has called him. It will be good for him to do this. And then he had better leave politics alone. He had better leaveeverything alone but his one work. We have not mind enough for two things-and besides, our work is such that if we had mindenough for 20 things it would be best to consecrate it all to that one thing! If I may snatch firebrands from the flame, whowill, may fill your Senate and may guide the policies of Cabinets! If I may lead sinners to the Cross of Christ and tell themof life in His dear wounds, I should be content, though I should never influence anything else except the hearts of men tothe Savior! One thing, young man, if you are about to be a minister-one thing, my Brother, however old you may be, permitme to say to you and myself tonight-there is only one thing we must do if we would not be found guilty.
But the stress of my text I intend to lay tonight upon one particular case, and that is-
III. THE SEEKING SINNER.
There are some persons who are awakened and are seeking salvation, but they are not likely to find it because their heartis divided and they will be found guilty. Very briefly, and very briefly, indeed, I mean to speak upon this disease, uponthe evil of it, and suggest a few thoughts by way of a cure for it.
Of this disease, let me say that it is a disease in the heart. Now a very small prick in the heart will kill. A great gashin the head may be healed, but a slight wound in the heart is deadly. A division of understanding or of judgment may be remedied,but a division of heart is a very terrible and often a very fatal disease. Let me show you how and in what respects some seekingsouls are divided in heart.
And they are, first, divided as to a sense of their condition. At one time they think they are in great danger. Tomorrow theydon't know that there is anything very particular. When they have read a passage of Scripture, they believe their heart tobe evil, but they forget the text and they think their heart is, after all, not so bad as Scripture says it is. They hearthat there is a wrath to come and they are alarmed, but they get away to their friends and neighbors and say, "Why was I sofoolish as to be frightened by the preacher?" They are in danger-they dare not say they are not, but yet they almost hopeit is not true! They know it is not all right with them, yet they try to cheat themselves with the idea that it is prettynearly all right. They are never likely to seek a Savior while they are in this condition, for until a man's mind is thoroughlymade up that he must be saved by Christ or perish, he will never go to Christ. A divided heart about our personal conditionbefore God is a deadly sign.
These same seekers are often divided as to the objects of their choice. They need salvation tonight-they would give theireyes to have it. They will get to their chamber and pray, "O God, save me!" They will endorse the language of that hymn-
"Wealth and honor I disdain. Earthly comforts, Lord, are vain. These can never satisfy- Give me Christ, or else I die."
Tomorrow they will forget all about Christ and they will be seeking after something else. Tonight they would have Heaven,but tomorrow they would find a Heaven on earth! Tonight they would give up sin, but tomorrow they wish to have much of it.Tonight they see the emptiness of earthly pleasure, but tomorrow they will suck it down as the ox drinks down water. Theirheart is divided between this and that. They are not quite for the world nor quite for Christ-they halt between two opinions!Oh, that God would decide them that their heart, their divided heart, may not prove their ruin!
Some seekers are divided as to the object of their trust. They trust in Jesus Christ, but they also trust a little in themselves.They believe His blood has a great deal to do with it, but they think their prayers have something, too, and so they standwith one foot on the land and the other on the sea and, therefore, they fall! They are relying upon self in part and uponChrist in part, and so they will assuredly come to destruction, for Christ will never be part Savior! It must be all or nothing!He never entered into partnership with sinful worms to help save them-He is the sole Foundation-and other foundation can noman lay. Alas, upon this matter, how many have their hearts divided! They are trusting to their Baptism, or to their Confirmation,or to their "sacraments"-all false foundations-and yet they are trying to trust in Christ at the same time! Their heart isdivided and now they are held guilty.
And this division is found in their love. They think they love Divine things, but by-and-by some earthly thing comes in andgets uppermost in their souls! Oh, I do remember myself when, if I woke in the morning, I always took care to have a godlybook under my pillow, and an awakening book, too-Doddridge's, "Rise and Progress," Alleine's, "Alarm," Bunyan's books andthe like-and yet at another time I forgot all about that. I was hot today and cold tomorrow. I would have been ready to diein order to be saved, sometimes, and other times would gladly have escaped from the mercy of God to be permitted to "enjoymyself," as I said, in the things of the world! Oh, it is a sad state to be in. A seeker will never get Christ until he musthave Christ, and he will never get salvation until salvation is the first thing, the last thing, the middle thing with him-untilit comes to this, "By God's Spirit I must be saved! Nothing will content me. I must be saved and until I am saved, I cannotgive sleep to my eyes, nor slumber to my eyelids." The Lord in His mercy give us an united heart about this, for a dividedheart, here, is a guilty heart in the seeker. Now let me speak upon-
IV. THE DANGER OF THIS DISEASE-the evil of it. The evil of it is, first, that seekers with divided hearts miss the blessing.You shall find Him when you seek Him with your whole heart-not till then. Mercy's door opens to the knock of a whole-heartedknocker. A half-hearted seeker will have to wait many a day before that gate will ever give him entrance. No, Soul, if youdo not think enough of mercy to ask for it with all your heart, you will have to wait awhile. No, Man, the choice merciesof God are too precious to be thrown away upon one who asks with a divided heart! Now look at Heaven's gate instead of hereand there, instead of looking right and left. For you one thing is necessary, Sinner-just one thing. Fifty things you mayleave to be sought, by-and-by, but now for you it is one thing, and if you will not make it one thing, you will miss it-missit to your eternal loss!
Again, remember that you who seek the Lord with a divided heart condemn yourselves. When you stand before the Judgment Seatyou won't be able to say, as some will, "Lord, we did not know of this salvation. Lord, we never were impressed with its value,"for the Lord would tell you, "Why, you trembled under a sermon. You knelt and prayed, and you cried to Me, though you liedwith yours lips because your heart was not perfect before Me. Yet you did know the value of these things and you did feelthem, too, in a measure, so that you are without excuse." He that follows the world with all his heart and thinks that isthe best, is a reasonable man in following it. But he who thinks the world to come the best, and yet follows this presentevil world-why, what a fool he is-and who shall plead for him? When he stands before God, his prayers will damn him, if nothingelse will, for his prayers will be swift witnesses against him that he did know, did feel and yet he would not act upon hisknowledge-he blotted out that which he perceived in his feelings. God save us from missing Heaven and from condemning ourselvesby seeking it with a divided heart!
Moreover, O Man, I would press one fact upon you very solemnly, and that is that a divided search after salvation is an insultto the Savior. Who is it and what is it, O Man, that you set up in competition with Christ? All Heaven and earth cannot produceHis equal, and have you found something that can rival Him? What is it? Dare you say what it is? There have been men who havehad good thoughts, but even a harlot's love has been chosen by them, instead of Christ! There are others who have loved thewages of unrighteousness, and Sabbath-breaking has made them forego Christ. We have known others who, for fear of a littlescandal from their worldly companions, have been ashamed to follow Christ, and
they have given up Jesus Christ sooner than bear a fool's derision! O Man, if you had the choice given you tonight of allthe kingdoms of this world, or Christ, you would insult Christ if you should pause in the choice, for He is better than themall, and your soul's salvation is better than them all! "For what shall it profit a man, though he gains the whole world,and lose his own soul?" But I can weep for you while I rebuke you. What is it you put in competition with Christ? What isit you prefer to Christ? Man, are you mad that you should insult your Savior, who poured out His heart's blood for the salvationof such as you are, and do you think that anything can be worth the having at so dreadful a price as the loss of your soul,and the loss of the Savior's salvation? I beseech you, turn that over in your mind! I cannot put it as forcibly as I would,but I pray you let your conscience help you and answer if it is right in you to have a divided heart, and so to insult yourSavior.
Once more on this point, and that is, do you not know that a divided heart is a continued disobedience to God He says, "Youshall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength"-and now you have sinned yoursoul out of His favor and in danger of eternal death-and still with only half a heart do you turn to Him! You put out onehand towards God, but with the other you would have your sin! You would gladly go to Heaven and take your sins with you! Youwould be saved, but you want to sit both at the table of the Lord and the table of Satan! You desire to hold with the hareand run with the hounds-be the friend of the devil and yet the friend of God. O Man, the very thought is rebellion againstyour Maker! Cast it away from you and ask the Lord, this night, to bind all your affections into one bundle, and then drawthem all to Him-that for you the one thing may be to seek salvation through Christ and reconciliation to the good Lord inHeaven through the precious blood of His dear Son! And now hear the last few words which shall be meant to be-
V. A CURE FOR THIS DISEASE of a divided heart. And the first word shall be this. You ought well to have done with a dividedheart when the matter in hand is your salvation or damnation. When a ship is floating gaily out at sea with favorable winds,men think but little of their safety. When she begins to rock and there is some danger, then their safety rises in importanceand they put it side by side with the safety of the gold they carry with them! But when the winds break loose and the stormis up, and the ship is about to go by the board, and the man must leap into the lifeboat, he flings his gold away-he leaveshis treasures loose upon the floor. As they sink into the abyss, he gives up anything if he may but save his life! In thatdread hour when the vessel is going down and a handful of men alone are clinging to a mast, all is gone from them except thethought of saving life. And surely it should be so with you! When you are saved, you may begin to think of some other thing,but not tonight! For as the Lord lives, before whom I stand, there is but a step between some of you and death! Before anotherSabbath-I may speak positively, for out of so many as there are here, someone of us will die this week, by all the probabilitiesof life and death-before another Sabbath one of us will lie in the shell, prepared to be taken to the grave! And if that shouldhappen to be an unconverted man, then before another Sabbath you will know of Hell and of the Lake of Fire more than thisBook can tell or these lips can utter, unless you are converted and fly to Christ! Surely in such jeopardy, your whole heartought to be set upon the one matter-your own salvation-and I beseech you and I pray God the Spirit to make it so that youmay now, with your whole undivided faculties, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. By the awful peril of yoursoul, I do entreat you linger, delay and remain undecided no more, lest your heart, being divided, should prove guilty andbe cast away forever!
Remember, again, and the argument is equally forcible, though it is more pleasing, the mercy that you are seeking after isworth the concentration of all your thoughts to find it To be delivered from all your past sin-is not this worth the seeking?To be made a child of God-is not this worth wrestling for? To be secure of Heaven, to be delivered from Hell-is not this worthan attempt to obtain? Oh, if it were necessary that you should go to your houses, tonight, and neglect your tomorrow's business-itdoes not require it, but if it did-if you went not to the market or to the Exchange by the week together-yes, and if yourtables were deserted and you snatched but a morsel that might sustain life-and if you took no walk, had no recreation, ifyou denied yourself anything and everything until you found Christ, I could not blame you! I am sure it would be well worththe while! Anything, everything should be neglected that you might become one of the people of God and saved in the Lord withan everlasting salvation! Did you know the joy that belongs to Christians, you would never be satisfied until you had it!The man that saw the pearl of great price saw it in another dealer's hands, and he thought, "I must have that! It is the finestpearl of all, so I must have it!" And he went his way, you know, and though he had many a dainty jewel, he sold all he hadand turned it all to gold-and back he came
to the trader-and he gave with joy all that he had that he might buy that one pearl, and he made a good bargain, too! Andyou would make a blessed bargain if everything were given up that you might find a Savior and be delivered from the wrathto come! Therefore I do pray you to seek Him with your whole heart.
Once more, do remember that the Savior gave His whole heart when He came to save men. There was no by-play about Christ. Hiszeal for souls did eat Him up. He, loved, He lived, He died to save them! Will you have a divided heart about that which tookthe Savior's whole soul? Remember the devil is in earnest to destroy you. He will leave no stone unturned to keep you hisvictim that he may utterly destroy you! Shall Hell be in earnest to ruin you and will you not be in earnest to escape fromit? Remember, good men are in earnest. I wish that I could speak to you with the tongue of an angel tonight. There is no facultyof my mind which I would not lay under a heavy mortgage if I might but bring your soul to Christ! I would willingly enoughgo to school, again, and sit at my Master's feet if He could tell me how to deal with human hearts aright, and stir them anddraw them to the Savior! Ah, 'tis poorly done, but it is with my whole soul I would plead with you to fly to Christ! And yet'tis but little a concern of mine, compared with the way in which it is a concern of yours! If I have been faithful, I shallnot be responsible for you-it is your soul that is at stake. Sirs, shall I be anxious about your souls and will you not careabout them? Do they seem precious to me and trifles to you? Shall I urge you to escape and will you feel, "It does not matter-itis but a trifle"? Lord, deliver us from this insanity, for insanity it is for a man to trifle with his soul, when others arein earnest for him! And God is in earnest. The great eternal God is in earnest! He says tonight to you, "Turn you, turn you!Why will you die, O house of Israel?" If salvation is child's-play to you, it is not to Him. He gave His Son from His bosomto redeem men! And He sent His Spirit unto men to sanctify them. He puts out His Omnipotence, lays His Wisdom under tax tofind a plan and devise a way by which He might save mankind! Oh, trifle not where God is so in earnest, lest you find Himterribly in earnest in the day when His incensed love shall turn to wrath! Jealousy-what is it but love set on a blaze? Andif you so hate God that you will prefer to live in Hell sooner than be indebted to His mercy, then rest assured you shallfeel how heavy His arm can be-
"What chains of vengeance shall they feel
Who slight the cords of Love?
How they deserve the deepest Hell
Who scorn the joys above!"
May God in His infinite mercy prevent anybody here from daring the wrath of God by following after Christ with a divided heart-triflingwith his Maker, trifling with his soul, trifling with Heaven, trifling with Hell! May we be in earnest, each one of us, andmay we all meet at the right hand of God through Sovereign Grace. The Lord bless you all, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: HOSEA 10:1-6.
Verse 1. Israelis an empty vine, he brings forth fruit unto himself Not to his God. It matters not how much fruit we bear-ifit is for self, we are fruitless. A thing which is good in itself may lose all its goodness because stained with a selfishmotive. We are to live unto God-and we must always be watchful about this-otherwise we may be doing much, and doing nothing."Israel is an empty vine, he brings forth fruit unto himself."
1. According to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have madegoodly images.It is a very sad thing when the more men receive from God, the more they sin. But just in proportion as theland of Israel was fat and fertile, in that proportion did they set up altars to false gods and provoke the true God, whohad given them these mercies. It is an ill thing when men grow rich and offer sacrifice to their own vanity- when men gatherlearning and only use it to debate against the simple teachings of God-when just as God blesses, men cease to bless Him!
2. Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty. A half heart is no heart at all. And when men seem to go after God, andat the same time to go after their idols, they are not going after God. Their religion is vain. The good side is but a pretense-theevil side is the real thing!
2. He shall break down their altars. He shall spoil their images. Let us take heed then, dear Friends, that we make nothinginto an idol. The shortest way to lose the dearest object of your affections is to make an idol of him. "He shall
break down their altars. He shall spoil their images." Sometimes this is done in great mercy to God's people, for there isno greater evil than for a heart to be happy in idolatry. Sometimes it is done in judgment upon the ungodly. They will nothave the true God, and the false god shall be false to them. "He shall break down their altars. He shall spoil their images."
2. For now they shall say, We have no king because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us? Their king wasslain, but if he had lived, what would be the good of him without God? What is the good of any temporal blessing if God isnot in it? It is the husk with the kernel gone! And if we are able to enjoy the husk, it looks as if we were swine, and swineare being fattened for the slaughter! What is the use of anything that we possess if God is divorced from it? I put the questionagain. If you are a true child of God, all the corn and wine in the world cannot feed you. Your bread must come from Heaven.
4. They have spoken words. That which they spoke was not the truth. We cannot speak without words, but it is an evil thingwhen our speech is nothing but words. Words, words, words!-no heart, no truth! "They have spoken words."
4. Swearing falsely in making a Covenant: thus judgment springs up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. God keep us fromuntruthfulness, and especially from a want of truth towards Himself. Do you not think that oftentimes, both in prayer andpraise, it might be said, "They have spoken words-nothing more"? There has been a falsehood in the most solemn transactiontowards God. Woe unto you, dear Friends, if that should turn out to be the case! You may cheat your fellow men if you havea heart for it, but you never will be able to cheat your God! He is not mocked. "They have spoken words," He says.
5. The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Beth Aven. Why, those calves are their trust. They relyupon those images of false gods-those images which they set up in the place of the true God. Pretending thereby to worshipHim, they trusted in these-and now they shall become their fear. He who will have a confidence apart from God will find hisconfidence soured into a fear before long. Your greatest ground of distress will be that which was once the ground of yourreliance apart from God!
5, 6. For the people thereof shall mourn over it And the priests thereof that rejoiced in it, for the glory thereof, becauseit is departed from it It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to King Jareb. The spiteful king.
6. Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel. These golden calves excited the desires ofthe king of Assyria, and he took them away. These gods were baits to their enemies, instead of basis for their confidence.They were carried away captive of the people with them-their god, captive-their god melted down to make images, or to makemoney for the king of Assyria! Ah, what shame does God pour upon idolaters! And what shame He will pour upon us if we haveany confidence except the unseen God and if we rely anywhere but upon the eternal Covenant of His Immutable Grace! Oh, Brothersand Sisters, let us try to flee away from that which is so tempting to sense- confidence in an arm of flesh-and let our soleand only trust be in Him who made the heavens and the earth, and in His Son, Jesus Christ!