Sermon 1680. Bochim-Or, the Weepers
DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 10, 1882,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And it came to pass, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people liftedup their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord." Judges 2:4, 5
LET me give an outline of the chapter, that we may put the text into its proper setting. God had brought His people out ofEgypt and divided Jordan that they might march through, dry-shod, into the land which He had promised to their fathers. Hecharged them to drive out the Canaanites, a race that had become so loathsome in God's sight that He decreed their destructionand appointed the tribes of Israel to be their executioners. It was for the good of the universal world that this pest-houseshould be broken up and that the filthy races should be destroyed-and God gave His people that charge to carry out.
Those who quarrel with this arrangement should remember that this is not the only instance of aboriginal tribes being drivenout by a superior race. Our Anglo-Saxon nation drove out the original inhabitants of this island, who survived only in themountains of Wales and Cornwall and in the highlands of Scotland. It certainly will not be wise, on our part, as Anglo-Saxons,to condemn Israel for doing, under Divine command, what our forefathers did for their own aggrandizement. Alas, in more moderntimes, lands have been seized and nations extirpated by the white man without Divine warrant or reasonable excuse. We do notjustify all this, but if any complain of Israel for obeying the sentence of God, let them first raise their voices againstthe driving out of ancient races by colonists of our own race!
The order to slay the Canaanites had a second objective, namely, that Israel might dwell, alone, in the land and might keepthemselves to themselves-the great nonconformists of the universe-separated from all the rest of mankind, both by residenceand by manners, not following the customs of the nations round about them, or falling into their sins. That they might besanctified they were to be separated. "The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." Now, markand note right well that it is an evil thing, under any pretext, whatever, to depart, in any degree, from the Commandmentof the Most High God! Whatever may be the Law which God gives, either to the whole race or to His chosen, they will find theirsafety in keeping close to it.
But Israel forgot this. Soldiering was hard work-storming cities and warring with men who attacked them with chariots of ironwas heroic service. All this required strong faith and untiring perseverance and, in these virtues the Israelites were greatlydeficient. And so, in certain places, they said to the Canaanites, "Let us be neighbors. Let us dwell together." They thought,perhaps, that they had abundant reason for this easy mode of ending the dispute, for those who would correct Infallible Wisdomhave usually a great deal to say for themselves! Certain persons thought, in those days, that the religious notion of God'srequirements was too severe, that He was, after all, a mass of mercy, and that the best thing that they could do was to bekindly tolerant of these Canaanites and make the best terms they could with them.
They said that perhaps, after all, it was a pity to be so old-fashioned and so rigid in carrying out the Divine order, andit would be better to learn something of the civilization of the Canaanites, something of their arts and sciences, somethingof their theory of religion-for men ought to have liberal views and believe that there is latent truth in all forms of worship.At any rate, it could do no harm to study their archaeology and go to their temples to see the gods they worshipped and geta general acquaintance with the advanced thought of the period-for the Canaanites were a greatly advanced people-they werethe advanced thinkers of the period! They had thought out he-gods and she-gods, Baal and Ashtaroth. And their lesser deitieswere many. They were, in fact, a highly cultured people, always thinking out something fresh.
So Israel said, "It were a pity to carry out the Divine denunciation quite to the letter. Let us tone it down. There are manythings to be learned from these people. No doubt they have their fine points and we must not be too hard upon their imperfections.Therefore let us enter into treaties with them and live with them." They did live with them and fell into their ways! Toleranceled to imitation and Israel became as vile as the heathen whom the Lord had condemned! And the Israelites became a mixed racein whose veins there flowed a measure of Canaanite blood. Yes, if you depart from God's Word by a hair's breadth, you knownot where you will end. It needs but a little to degrade the Christian into a Ritualist and still less to turn the Ritualistinto a Romanist! We shall go far if we once start on the downhill road.
I would to God that in these degenerate times we had back, again, somewhat of the stern spirit of the Cameroonians and theCovenanters, for now men play fast and loose with God and think that anything they please to do will satisfy the Most High.The offal and the refuse will suffice for sacrifices for Him. But as to strict obedience to His Word, they can by no meansabide. Mischief will surely come of this lax state of things to the Churches of this day as surely as affliction came abundantlyto Israel of old!
Note, next, that whenever one sin is allowed, we may say of it, "Gad, a troop comes." It seemed a pardonable sort of sin tobe gentle to these people and not to obey God's severer Word, but then, what came next? Why, soon they, the children of Jehovah,were found worshipping before the horrible Baal! Soon they had gone farther and the unclean goddess, Ashtaroth, became theirdelight! And soon they forgot Jehovah altogether amid their deities and demons. With these errors in religion there had comein all sorts of errors in morals, for every fashion of immorality and lewdness defiled the worshippers of Baal-Peer, Baal-Berithand Baal- Zebub. Soon the chosen people of God could scarcely be distinguished from the heathen nations among which they dwelt,or if distinguished at all, it was by their greater sin, inasmuch as they were transgressing against superior light and holdingdown their consciences which God had rendered by His teaching much more tender than the consciences of those about them!
I said before that if you turn aside from God's Words by a hair's breadth, you know not where it will end. The rail divergesbut a little where the switches are turned, but before long the branch line is miles away from the main track. Backslide alittle and you are on the way to utter apostasy! The mother of mischief is small as a gnat's egg-hatch it and you shall seean evil bird larger than an ostrich! The least wrong has in it an all but infinity of evil. You cannot say to sin, "Up tohere shall you go, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed." Like the sea, when the dyke is broken, it stretchesforth its hand to grasp all the surrounding country! The beginning of sin is like the beginning of strife and that is saidto be as the letting out of water-no man knows what a flood may come when once the banks are burst.
So Israel went aside farther and farther from God because they regarded not their way and did not, in all things, obey theLord. But then comes in a Truth of God which, though it may seem black in the telling, is bright in the essence of it. Goddid not leave His people without chastisement. Had He left them alone, to be given up to their idols, their case would havebeen hopeless. For mercy's sake they must be punished for their transgression, but this was a gracious punishment, that theymight not lie and wallow in their transgression and become altogether like the swinish nations that surrounded them. God beganto punish them by their own sin. He suffered the Canaanite nations to grow strong, so that they grievously oppressed Israel.
He put the Israelites under the yoke of those nations which they ought to have utterly destroyed. If they would not be conquerors,they would be conquered! If they would not lead captivity captive, they should be led captives, themselves! The Lord laidHis blows upon them thick and heavy. But, before He did this, He sent a messenger to rebuke them. It is always the Lord'sway to have space for repentance before He executes vengeance. The axes which were carried before the Roman magistrates bythe lictors were bound up in bundles of rods. It is said that when a prisoner was before the magistrate, the lictor beganto untie the rods and with these the culprit was beaten-meanwhile the judge looked in the prisoner's face and heard his defense.If he saw reason for averting the capital sentence because of the repentance which the offender expressed, then he only smotehim with the rods and the axe remained unused.
But if, when every rod was taken out, the culprit was still hardened and the crime was a capital one and clearly proven, thenthe axe was used-and used all the more sternly because space had been given for repentance and the rods had been used in vain!When the rod is despised, the axe is ready. It is certainly so with God-He waits to be gracious, but when patience cannothope for penitence, then Justice takes her turn and her stroke is terrible. The Lord, on this occasion, commissioned a specialmessenger to rebuke these people, for He sent an Angel. I leave it to your own judgments
to discover who this Angel was, if it is discoverable. It may have been an ordinary angel, but I think it must have been theAngel of the Lord. He is so styled in the fourth verse and, besides, He uses language which an ordinary angel could not haveused!
He begins, "I made you go up out of Egypt." Note, He does not say that the Lord said this or that, but the Angel, Himself,says it-"I made you go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I swore unto your fathers." Who could thishave been, then, but that Covenant Angel who, on other occasions, appeared to holy men and who, on this occasion, preacheda sermon to the assembled multitude at Shiloh? My Brothers and Sisters, you know that our Lord was here among men many a timebefore He came in mortal flesh to suffer and to die. He was here, "rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and Hisdelights were with the sons of men." He was with Abraham under the tree; with Jacob at Jabbok; with Joshua by the walls ofJericho; with Gideon at the threshing floor and with the three Holy Children in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.
He was not in such a body as God had prepared for Him when He took upon Himself the form of a Servant, but in such a formand fashion as seemed most congruous to His Divine Majesty and to the circumstances of those He visited. This Angel of theDivine Covenant, whom we delight in, came and spoke to this people. Such is the judgment of many who have thought most uponit, but I leave it to you to decide. At any rate, it must have been grand hearing to hear an angel preach! And grander hearing,still, to hear the Angel of the Covenant plead with the covenanted ones! Oh, what a sermon! What a sermon it must have been!Scarcely was such a Preacher seen on earth! And yet that sermon did not do as much good as when the seafaring man, Peter,preached at Pentecost!
The sermon at Bochim, if I were to sum up its results, ended in disappointment. When our adorable Christ, Himself, preachedto the men of Nazareth, they would have cast Him headlong from the brow of the hill, so that all His eloquent words had fallenupon dead ears and no good result had come, even, from His instruction. Be not disappointed, servant of God, if sometimesyou seem to fail! Do not say, "I will give it up." Your bread has been cast upon the waters. Wait a while, for after manydays, you may find it. If Israel is not gathered, God will reward you for your toil. It is yours to labor-it is God's to givethe results-and He does not always grant pleasing results to us at once. He did not allot great triumphs to this Angel ofthe Lord, as we shall have to show you.
It was a great congregation. It was a great Preacher and it was a great sermon! And yet there was not a great ingathering.Read the sermon through and note that though it is a short one, it is all the greater for its brevity. Sermons may grow littleby being long and a sermon may be great through being short, if it is big with thought as this angelic sermon was. He began,first, by telling them what mercies they had received. Read the chapter. "I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have broughtyou unto the land which I swore unto your fathers." Brothers and Sisters, this subject should most readily lead us to repentance-thatGod should have dealt so well with us should make us grieve that we have behaved so badly to Him!
Do I address a backsliding child of God? I do not think that any exercise is more likely to benefit your heart than to rememberwhat God did for you in years gone by. He took you up out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay and set your feet upona rock. He brought you out from the iron bondage of your despair and gave you liberty. He broke the yoke of sinful habitsand the chains of furious passions. And now are you wandering away from Him? Are you making something else to be the god ofyour spirit? If so, be ashamed of your ingratitude and let this first head of the Angel's discourse have power upon your mind."You use no other friend so ill"-and yet you have not a friend who can be compared with your God. "I beseech you, Brethren,by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice" unto your God and sin no longer against Him.
Then the angel passed on to mention the mercies guaranteed to them-"I said, I will never break My Covenant with you." Oh,that is a blessed theme! If, indeed, you are a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord has pledged Himself to make youperfect and to bring you Home to Himself with exceedingly great joy! You shall not perish. Christ has said, "I give unto Mysheep eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave themto Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." You see the two hands-one inside theother-and you are in the middle, enclosed within the palm of Omnipotent faithfulness! Jehovah says, "I have loved you withan everlasting love." He will never break His Covenant with you!
Will you wander away from Him who passes by your iniquity, transgression and sin, and does not let His anger smoke againstyou forever-He to whom you are joined in an everlasting wedlock which shall never know a divorce? Oh, cruel heart! Cruel heart!Can you offend against such love as this? Can you break with God when He declares that He will never break with you? The Angelpleads this longsuffering, eternally-enduring love, and pleads it well. I know of no two greater arguments than mercy receivedand mercy promised. Let us not sin against these! May the Holy Spirit hold us fast with these cords of love.
And then the Angel came to close grips with them and said, "You shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; youshall throw down their altars; but you have not obeyed My voice: why have you done this?" He came to their sin. He put Hisfinger on their failure, their omission and their commission. He did not flinch from stating to them exactly what their transgressionwas, nor from demanding, "Why have you done this?" And oh, surely, this shall help to lead us to repentance, when God, "setsour iniquities before Him; our secret sins in the light of His countenance." When we see our sin, we ought to be distressedby it and to flee from it, "hot foot," as men say, and be clean rid of it once and for all. Oh, may the Spirit of God convictsany wandering one here of sin and may he then turn to God with a penitent heart!
The Angel expostulated in most chosen words, saying, "Why have you done this?" Why have you turned away from God? Why haveyou let your own enemies multiply upon you? Why have you been disobedient to the command which was given to you so positively?Know you not that cursed is he that does the work of the Lord deceitfully? You have acted disobediently and you have broughtupon yourselves a terrible retribution! Why have you done this? Backslider, are you here tonight? Have you gone aside fromChurch fellowship and left the profession of religion? Why have you done this? Can you mention a reason which will bear thelight? We know you cannot! There is no sense in sin, no justification for iniquity.
Ungodliness is madness! Irreligion is irrational. Disobedience to God is a breach of every Law of common sense and logic.In God's creation it is unreasonable, unnatural, monstrous for the creature to rebel against the Creator! Why have you donethis? "Turn you, turn you; why will you die, O house of Israel?" Then the Angel completed His discourse by declaring to themthat further chastisements would surely follow. He was not sent to preach the Gospel and, therefore, mercy is not His theme.He was sent to preach the Law and He did preach it! Listen to the judgment which He de-nounces-"Therefore I also said, I willnot drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides and their gods shall be your ruin"-so some readthe passage. It was a just but terrible threat that He thus thundered in their ears. Notice it! They were to be punished bytheir own sin. The Lord as good as said-"Fou would not drive them out and now I will not drive them out. Your negligence andtime-serving shall come home to you and place thorns in your suffering flesh. Your omission shall sting you where you willfeel it. You have sowed thistles, and thorns shall stuff your pillows."
Then, next, He tells them how sharp and keen this sin should be to them. "They shall be as thorns in your sides," prickingyou in one of the most tender parts-in the very region of life, itself. Wherever you turn, these sins of yours- these enemiesthat you spared-shall prick you in the side and their gods shall be your ruin. You dote upon their false deities and thinkthem your glory, but they shall be your dishonor! The heathen may trust in them, but you shall not be able to do so. Theyshall be a snare and a mischief to you. What a sermon that was! As I have said, there was a great occasion, a great congregation,a great Preacher, a great sermon, and, as far as one could see on the spot, a great movement produced.
Now I want you to notice what looks like a great result and we shall talk of it under two heads. The people, when they heardthis solemn discourse, lifted up their voice and wept, yet they continued as they were. How hopeful! How disappointing!
I. First, HOW HOPEFUL. One could not desire anything better, apparently, than this. They were all attentive hearers. Therewas not one that looked about him, or that forgot the pointed words that were spoken. They all seemed to open their ears wideand take in the Divine admonition. There they stood before the Lord, all of them amazed and confounded, while the Angel deliveredHis solemn message and then returned to Him that sent Him. It is a great thing to win people's attention and it is not everyonethat can do it, for there are congregations that act as if the Word of God had nothing to do with them, leaving the poor preacherto prophesy to dead walls. These Israelites took the warning and
drank in the Truth of God. They were attentive hearers and anybody would have said, "Blessed be God, that sermon has donea great work. Blessed be God for such an attentive congregation! The nails are fastened in a sure place."
Moreover, they were very feeling people, for they felt what they heard. What would you think, tonight, if the congregationshould suddenly cry out? "They lifted up their voice and wept"-wept aloud! Orientals, you know, are generally louder in theirdemonstrations than we are of a chillier climate, but still it must have been a solemn sight to notice men and women, together,loudly lamenting their transgressions! I have no doubt that many who were there at that time were right with God and said,"What a wonderful opportunity! Glory be to God for such a revival! That one sermon has stirred the people through and through.Thank God that He has sent such a messenger with so fitting a message and blessed it so, for certainly these people are allconverted, otherwise they would not cry out and weep."
They were all sorrowful hearers as well as attentive and feeling hearers. Out of the whole company there was not one thatlaughed, not one that was indifferent, not one who scorned and disregarded the message, but, as far as the text goes, thestatement is that all unanimously lifted up their voice and wept. Heaviness was upon them! Their souls were exceedingly sorrowful!They expressed their sorrow in a great and bitter cry and, meanwhile, their tears flowed abundantly, even as when the rockwas smitten in the desert and the waters gushed forth! They were all turned into weepers and they called the name of thatplace, Bochim, or, the Place of Weepers. You would think, "Surely this is full of promise-every eye is filled with tears asthey stand before God!"
Alas, that such drops did not precede a shower of Grace, but passed away as the morning cloud! Yes, and they all became professinghearers, for as soon as ever that service was over, they held another and, "They sacrificed unto Jehovah." They avowed themselvesto be Jehovah's servants and they took the sacrifice which He had appointed and offered it for their sins and outwardly they,all of them, became ardent worshippers of the Most High and true penitents! Well, dear Friends, all this looks very hopefulbecause it is what we may expect when God presses home the Law upon the consciences of men. When sin is laid before a man,should he not weep? Hope glitters in every tear! Oh that men were sane enough to weep for their transgressions!
I am amazed that some of you can read your Bibles with dry eyes. Unsaved, rejecting the Savior-can you read the four Evangelistswithout weeping? That Savior whom the Jews crucified you reject, and so, in fact, you crucify Him, too! Can you read the TenCommandments without an aching heart? You know that these are 10 great pieces of artillery, all aimed at you for your destruction,since you have offended God by the breach of His Law! Why, surely, you ought scarcely to sleep at night, lest God's mightyjudgment should fall upon your guilty heads while you are asleep! It is not amazing at all that people should cry out andweep-the wonder is that every sanctuary where the Law is preached and where the Gospel is preached-should not become a Bochim,or a place of weepers!
Oftentimes this deep emotion does come with true conversion-often, though not always-as I shall have to show you. Men convincedof sin may well weep. I have seen a strong man weep under a sense of his guilt-weep as though the fountains of his eyes wouldbe exhausted-and the eyes, themselves, would turn to coals of fire. Frequently people are unable to restrain themselves andbreak out, even, in the midst of the congregation, and cry to God for mercy! It is not amazing-it is what we should expect!It is not undesirable, for it is an effect which frequently accompanies real conversion to God. It may well go with sorrowfor sin, and sorrow for sin is essential to eternal life. Repentance is an old-fashioned doctrine which, in these days, hasbeen despised, but, if I stand alone, I will bear testimony for it!
They say that repentance is nothing at all-that it is merely, according to the Greek, a change of mind. That shows what littleGreek they know! A little of such knowledge is a dangerous thing. A pity that they do not learn more. Repentance is a changeof mind, but do you say that it is only a change of mind? That is a pretty big, "only." A change of mind, a radical changeof mind-from the love of sin to the love of holiness-is that a small affair? It is always attended with sorrow and regretfor past sin and, if there is a man here who thinks that he will get to Heaven by a dry-eyed faith, he will be mistaken! Hethat never mourned for sin has never rejoiced in the Lord!
If I can look back upon my past life of sin and say, "I have no grief over it," why, then I should do the same, again, ifI had the opportunity! And this shows that my heart is as perverse as ever it was and I am still unregenerate. Dear Mr. RowlandHill used to say that faith and repentance were his daily companions as long as he lived, and that, if he had any thoughtof regret at entering Heaven, it would be to think that he might have to part with his dear friend, Repentance, as he wentthrough the gate! Godly sorrow is a blessed grief! Let no man speak evil of it. "Repent and be converted" is as
much the Gospel as, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ," and it is not to be omitted in our preaching at the hazard of doingdamage to men's souls!
He who has experienced holy sorrow for sin will continue to feel it. I should wonder if he did not often pull up the sluicesand let his soul flow in a flood of loving regret-
"If tears of sorrow would suffice To pay the debt I owe, Tears should from both my weeping eyes In ceaseless torrents flow."
A weeper in that sense, always repenting, is, also, always growing in Grace! So this place Bochim looks extremely hopeful,does it not?
II. Now let me turn to the other side and show you that there was nothing permanently good in Bochim's sudden water floods.These people were made weepers through hearing the Angel's sermon, but their weeping was VERY DISAPPOINTING. I half suspectthat their tears and lamentations were produced as much by the Preacher's Person as by anything else. It was the Angel ofthe Lord and who would not be moved at His Presence? God gifts certain speakers with the power of moving the natural feelingsand that gift abundantly rested upon the Covenant Messenger. Some men so preach that it were almost impossible to remain unsoftened.There is a pathos about them, or there is an earnestness so intense, so manifest, that for the heart of the hearer to be touchedis a natural consequence!
Now, I dread lest any of you should be so moved by me, when I preach, that your feeling should arise from my tone or mannerism,or because you have an affection or esteem for me-for be sure of this-that which comes to you from a man will come to an endbefore long! A temporary cause cannot produce an everlasting change! "You must be born again," not of the flesh, nor of thewill of man, but by the Spirit of God! Everything about the preacher's choice words, or musical tone, though proper enoughas an accessory-if it becomes the principle and the power that moves you-will end in failure! That which begins with windwill end with whirlwind! That which comes of words will evaporate in words, by-and-by.
It may be a great blessing to you to hear a very useful preacher, but if you depend upon him in the least, it will be mischievousto you. Go and hear the Gospel from any of my Master's servants and never depend, in the least, upon any one man, whoeverhe may be! Seek that your repentance may be a repentance which is worked by the Spirit of God in your heart and conscience,for if it is not so, it will, one day, curdle into greater depravity! Sham religion is an injury rather than a benefit. Isuggest to you that you ask your heart many a question and catechize it after the manner of Bed-dome's hymn-
"Why, O my Soul! Why do you weep? Tell me from where arise Those briny tears that often flow, Those groans that pierce theskies! Is sin the cause of your complaint, Or the chastising rod? Do you an evil heart lament, And mourn an absent God? Lord,let me weep for nothing but sin, And after none but Thee. And then I would-oh, that I might A constant weeper be."
Again, I am afraid that the repentance of these people had a great deal to do with their natural softness. They were tenderand excitable because there was little grit in their nature-their manliness was of a degenerate type. They feared to go tobattle for God-they dreaded the noise and the slaughter. They were, moreover, easily moved by their fellow men, and took shapefrom those who lived near them. They went to worship Baal because their neighbors said, "Come and worship Baal." And theyworshipped Ashtaroth because their friends said, "Come, let us reverence the goddess." They were malleable, pliable, ductile.
We have numbers around us of that kind. What shall I call them-men of wax? Creatures of India rubber? They go to be shaped,even, by your finger, like clay upon the potter's wheel, not yet hardened in the fire. No one knows what
their shape will be when they leave the wheel. Some have been here for many years and have often been moved and molded bythe preacher-and yet they are not saved! While stout-hearted rebels have stood in the aisles with half a sneer and God hasbrought the hammer down upon their flinty hearts, broken them to pieces-and now they are saved by mighty Grace and rejoicein the Lord! Some have a natural tenderness which hinders the attainment of spiritual softness. Now, mark you, that whichis natural may be used by God towards that which is spiritual, but still it is not, in itself, spiritual!
All that readiness to cry, all that readiness to receive the Word of God with joy and to leap at once into faith may be nothingbut mental weakness. Some men weep profusely because they have been drunk and that gives them a drop in their eye-this isa miserable business! I like the strong man who cries within and is weary of the visible rain showers. I know really tender-heartedmen who could not shed a tear for their lives, but feel a far deeper anguish than those whose griefs are shallow and watery.It is very beautiful to talk of the tears streaming down their faces, but many converts have never shed a tear and, perhaps,never will. But this does not prove that they are not converted-far from it-the tear is but a natural drop of moisture andsoon evaporates! The better thing is the inward torrent of grief within the soul which leaves an indelible mark within. Youknow how we sang just now-
"Tears, though flowing like a river, Never can one sin erase; Jesus' tears would not avail you, Blood, alone, can meet yourcase; Fly to Jesus!
Life is found in His embrace."
One grain of faith is better than a gallon of tears. A drop of genuine repentance is more precious than a torrent of weeping.
There is another thing about the weeping of these people and that is that it was caused a great deal by threats of punishment.I am afraid that they did not weep because they sinned, but they wept because God said that He would not drive out any moreCanaanites. They wished to conquer more of them-more of the most disreputable sort-but they did not wish to drive them allout. Yet they mourned because those whom they had spared would now get the upper hand! The more comfortable sort of Canaanitesthey were willing to save, but when they found that they were to have them for thorns in their sides-then they brought outtheir handkerchiefs-for there was reason for selfish grief.
Yes, and you may preach the fires of Hell till men are willing to abandon darling lusts of the more glaring sort. To suchwe would put searching questions. Is there any holy salt in your tears? Is it sin that you weep for? Is it sin that you repentof? Every murderer repents at the gallows, they say-that is, he repents of being hanged, but he does not repent of havingkilled others. He might do the same thing again if he had the opportunity. We ought clearly to discern between the naturalterrors that come of vivid descriptions of the wrath to come and that real spiritual touch of God, the Holy Spirit, whichbreaks and melts the heart and then casts it into another mold.
These people were deceived as to the depth and sincerity of their own feelings. Doubtless they reckoned themselves choicepenitents when they were only cowardly tremblers, laboring under impressions which were as useless as they were transient!Their feeling was but as a meteor's blaze, shedding strong but momentary light-
"What sadder scenes can angels view Than self-deceiving tears? They give you hope, a hope untrue, Then deepen al your fears."
We are quite sure that these people, though they wept, were none the better for it, because if they had been, they would havecried, "Come, Brothers, get your swords! Let us go and fight these Hivites and Hittites and cast down their altars, and sweepaway their images and groves." No, they kept their idle swords in their scabbards and made treaties with the condemned races!They used not their axes to cut down the false gods, but they said, "Let us have respect to the religion of others. Thereis no doubt that their idolatry is wrong-in fact, their practices are questionable and we are very sorry for it-but we neednot interfere, nor execute Jehovah's sentence with a bare literalness."
In addition, they very likely confessed and deplored their own laxity and went the length of saying, "It is very grievousthat we should be so obstinate. It is really a dreadful thing." I heard one say, "It is an awful thing to be a slave to thewine cup. I wish that I had never tasted it. The first opportunity I get, I will turn over a new leaf." He did not say what
the new leaf would be, but he was going to do any quantity of reforming work. Alas, he never did anything at all, for he wasdrunk, again, the next day! A beautiful penitent to look upon, but a wretched hypocrite in due time, for he returned, likethe dog, to his vomit, and the sow which was washed to her wallowing in the mire. If you repent of sin, down with sin! InGod's name, down with sin! When repentance is hearty it is practical. When a man truly turns to God, he turns away from sin.If Satan is effectually driven out of a man, the emancipated one sweeps his house and purges himself of the filth which heformerly harbored. He plucks out right-eye lusts and cuts off right-arm sins, for he feels that he can no longer transgressagainst his God.
Next, these people had not repented, for they did not bring their children up rightly. The next generation, it is said, knewnot the Lord, neither the mighty works of the Lord. That was because their parents did not teach them. Not that parents canteach children so that they know the Lord in their hearts, but God has so put it-"Train up a child in the way he should goand when he is old, he will not depart from it." That is the great general rule of God's moral government. If parents makeknown the things of God to their children, it cannot be said that the children do not know the works of God. If parents teachwith affectionate earnestness, their children learn, at least, the letter of the Truth of God. I do not believe in your repentancefor sin if you tolerate your child's living in it! I cannot believe that you know the Lord unless you long for your offspringto know Him!
A man says, "Oh, it is an evil thing, but, you know, young people will have their own way and we must not be too strict."Sorrowfully do we foresee what will become of young people who have parents that do not love them enough to restrain themfrom doing evil! Well may you weep, for you are murdering the souls of your own flesh and blood! Woe unto you, with all yourtears, if you have no regard for your household and no care to bring up your children in the fear of God! I know that thesepeople did not repent aright because they went from bad to worse. They went from weeping before God to worshipping Baal-likesome I have heard of who are found crying in the House of God on Sunday night-and are laughing at the theater on Monday night!
O base hypocrites! Penitents-at a dance! Broken-hearted sinners on Sunday, crying, "Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners,"and whole-hearted drunkards before the week is up, yelling, "We won't go home till morning!" Look at the miserable sinners!See what they are at! Are these your weepers? These your men of tender conscience? Their Bochim is all a lie-a mere pretense!The more tender you are, if afterwards you harden yourselves, so much the greater will be your guilt. And if you humble yourselvesbefore God in mere appearance, so much the more terrible will be your doom if that humbleness departs and you go back to thesin from which you professed to turn! I know that these people were not penitents because God did not take away the chastisement.The punishment which He threatened, He brought upon them. He gave them over to the spoilers and sold them to their enemies.But where there is a hearty repentance of sin, God will never lay punishment on a man. He will forgive him and receive himto His bosom and restore him.
To sum up, in a word, all that I have said, salvation lies not in feeling, but in believing! Salvation lies not in weeping,but in trusting in Christ! Repentance is not to be measured by outward manifestations of sorrow. The Prophet says, "Rend yourheart and not your garments." Let your hearts be torn away from sin and from everything that leads to sin-and then shall youweep acceptably before God! The Lord bless this word to those it is meant for. I do not know who they are, but He does. Andmay He send His blessing by His Holy Spirit. Amen.