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Calling Evil Good and Good Evil

Calling Evil Good and Good Evil

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Published by glennpease

BY WILLIAM VAN MILDERT, D. D.

PREACHER OF LINCOLN S INN,

NOW BISHOP OF DURHAM. 1831.




ISAIAH v. 20.

Woe unto them that call evil good., and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for dark
ness ; that put bitter for sweet., and sweet for
bitter.

BY WILLIAM VAN MILDERT, D. D.

PREACHER OF LINCOLN S INN,

NOW BISHOP OF DURHAM. 1831.




ISAIAH v. 20.

Woe unto them that call evil good., and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for dark
ness ; that put bitter for sweet., and sweet for
bitter.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 04, 2014
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CALLIG EVIL GOOD AD GOOD EVILBY WILLIAM VA MILDERT, D. D. PREACHER OF LICOL S I, OW BISHOP OF DURHAM. 1831. ISAIAH v. 20. Woe unto them that call evil good., and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for dark ness ; that put bitter for sweet., and sweet for bitter. OF the state of morals under the monar chies of Israel and Judah, the strong expos tulations and denunciations of their own Prophets lead us to form but an unfavour able opinion. Scarcely a chapter occurs in any of these writings, from which we may not infer such a general state of depravity as would be a reproach to any people; more especially so to a nation distinguished above all others by laws and statutes and ordi nances of Divine institution, and placed un der the immediate superintendence of an ex traordinary Providence, enforcing obedience to those laws by frequent and manifest in terpositions of miraculous agency. That even under such a dispensation so many public offences and private vices should have pre-
 
288 SERMO XIV. vailed, to the extent which the Prophets de clare, may well excite our astonishment. Of the truth of this statement, however, the chapter of the Prophet Isaiah, from which the words of the text are taken, supplies suf ficient evidence. It opens with an affecting appeal to the chosen people of God, remind ing them of the signal blessings they enjoyed. Under the similitude of a vineyard, cultivated with peculiar care, is represented the unceas ing desire of the Almighty to afford them the means of improvement in every grace and virtue, and the just expectation that their conduct should correspond with these advan tages. " What could have been done more, " says the Prophet, in the name of the Al mighty, " for my vineyard, that I have not " done in it ? Wherefore, when I looked that " it should bring forth grapes, brought it " forth wild grapes ?" Then follows a series of denunciations descriptive of the prevalent depravity and corruption. Covetousness and rapacity, intemperance and luxury, contempt of the revealed will of God, perversion of moral and religious principle, presumptuous confidence in human strength and wisdom, sensual indulgence and corrupt administra tion of justice ; these are the subjects of the several woes denounced by the Prophet; com- SERMO XIV. 289 prising a fearful catalogue of national and in dividual sins. Among these, the denuncia tion in the text is directed against one, the most comprehensive in its character, and the
 
most formidable in its result ; being nothing less than a general perversion of principle ; a sort of mental obliquity or blindness, dark ening the understanding, misleading the judg ment, and polluting the very sources of ra tional enjoyment : " Woe unto them that call " evil good, and good evil ; that put darkness " for light, and light for darkness ; that put " bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." This corruption of principle is of all moral disorders the most incurable. To error, in firmity, and occasional lapses from what they know and acknowledge to be their duty, the best of men are liable. But from these, by timely reflection and consideration, they may be reclaimed. Even vicious habits, grown inveterate by long continuance, are known sometimes to yield to powerful correctives. But if the moral principle itself be unsound, if that conscience, whose province it is to give warning of our danger, be under the domi nion of persuasions repugnant to our duty, the case, as far as human means can operate, becomes hopeless. Then, in the strong lan guage of the Prophet, "the whole head is VOL. II. U 290 SERMO XIV. " sick, and the whole heart is faint V Every thing is viewed through a distorted medium. Favourite vices assume the character and co lour of amiable or heroic virtues. Ingenious sophistries, visionary theories, perplexing sub tleties, are extolled as the perfection of hu man knowledge. Schemes of happiness are

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