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"Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" — / Kings xxi. 20. What a picture we have here of social life in high places ! There is the king, the ruler of God's own nation, the successor of David and Solomon, occupying a royal palace, and surrounded with luxury, yet fretting like a petted child because one small garden is not his. In vigorous health, he sickens of a heart disease ; with wealth beyond his need, he feels poverty-stricken for lack of a neighbour's plot of ground. There, also, is his wicked queen, like that other queen in tragedy, screwing up the courage of her more feeble consort. Hear her crafty counsel : " Proclaim a fast, and set aboth on high among the people, and set two men, sons of Belial, before him to bear witness against him, saying, ' Thou didst blaspheme God and the king,' and then carry him out and stone him that he may die." ot daring to go straight at the murderous deed, she must veil her wicked way by name of religion ! Simulation of virtue but intensifies the villainy. There, also, are the ready instruments. Like all others in power and position, these royal plotters easily find agents to effect their foul designs. Poor aboth is publicly confronted, accused, sentenced, stoned, and his possession becomes the king's. Evil is triumphant ; but the triumph of evil is its doom. As an old writer has said : "God brings in his bill at the end of the meal, not in the middle." Ahab
HAST THOU FOU D ME, O MI E E EMY? 29 visits the vineyard to gloat over his new acquisition. There he is suddenly confronted by one whom he knew of old — the prophet of God, the fiery Elijah. Ah, how that one stern presence robs the vineyard of its value, and turns its grapes
into gall ! Behold him cower before that majestic form ! Listen to that conscience-stricken exclamation, " Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" Let us study — L — The course and issue of sin. How fair its semblance when it first allures ! It glitters in dazzling garb, obscuring every other object. " Like birds the charming serpent draws," we gaze, and the longer we gaze the more impossible is it to withdraw. All is forgotten — heaven, hell, early lessons, claims of affection, interests of society — everything yields to the Satanic allurement. Viewing the coveted vineyard, reason reels and staggers, conscience becomes stifled, and lawless desire wades through innocent blood to seize its object. For a little while the grapes are luscious, and seem even to cool the fever of passion, but soon the re-action comes, and they become the grapes of Sodom and the clusters of Gomorrah. Reason re-asserts its sway, and proclaims the transgressor a fool. Conscience finds voice to vindicate the victim and vanquish the victor. Heaven frowns on the froward folly ; and hell, anticipating its prize, takes possession of the soul. Take the case of a man selling counterfeit wares, glorying in his sharp practice, gathering where he has not laboured, reaping where he has not sowed. For a while all is well. The glare of success dazzles him. His eyes stand out with fat ; he has more than heart can wish. But wait a little. The enemy will find him out — Elijah is even now before him. His ill-gotten gain lies heavy on his hands : it yields him no solid satisfaction. There is more of joy in the mechanic s
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hard-won wage ; yea, in " honest poverty " more real wealth than in all the treasures of unscrupulous avarice. Or, take the sensual man. He enters the domain of vice, cautiously, secretly, with a sense of shame. Gradually, his sensibilities become blunted. Ere long he yields to vices meaner and more grovelling than at first he could have thought of. Every fresh feeling of the heart is hardened, every passion inflamed, and he plunges on in his mad career. Caught by the fatal current, he is hurried along with ever accelerating speed to the swirling maelstrom. ow and then, perhaps, the memory of a departed mother, the kindly advice of an old father, or tender thoughts of his childhood's home flash back upon his soul; but, alas! the bonds of habit are ever strengthening, and he cannot break away. He cannot rise above what he has made himself. See him at last — poor, feeble, and helpless. There he stands like some old volcano — within, hollow, empty, and cold; without, scorched, and wrapped around with the hard lava, which the burning fires had formerly ejected. o glow now, no fire, save that of re-quickened conscience and burning remorse. The end of sin is death. ' ' Thus do the dark in soul expire, Or live like scorpion girt by fire ; Thus writhes the mind remorse hath riven, Unfit for earth, unmeet for heaven ; Darkness above, despair beneath, Around it flame, within it death." Let us, then — each and all of us — beware of entrance on any evil course. Avoid the wide, and seek the strait gate. Yesterday, perhaps, some evil temptation assailed you — the opportunity of unrighteous gain or unhallowed indulgence. "Is it not a little one?" you may have said; "May I not yield a little and gain much?" If you yielded, then and
HAST THOU FOU D ME, O MI E E EMY? 3 1 there you entered on the road which leadeth to destruction. To-morrow may threaten discovery — may bring the prophet to tell you you have sold yourself to work iniquity. Agitated, alarmed, you may try to bury the wrong in deeper falsehood; but though thus buried, it is not dead, and will not die. The added sin but quickens its vitality and makes it grow. It is a living seed which must needs develop, while other germs of evil gather around, until from that single seed of corruption the soul becomes overgrown with all that is hateful and horrible in habitual lying, knavery, and vice. Long ere such a life comes to a close the soul may have entered hell — the hell of debt, disease, ignominy, and remorse. The evil deed may be done in an instant — in one fleeting, but fatal moment ; but conscience never dies ; memory never sleeps. Guilt never can become innocence ; remorse can never, never whisper peace. II. — The enemy will find thee out. The exclamation of Ahab forcibly illustrates the incontrovertible truth that the wicked man makes an enemy of everything good. Averse to goodness, good must needs be his adversary. "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" He calls him his enemy who would fain have been his truest friend. ot one of the sycophants that surrounded his throne had so deep an anxiety for his true welfare. But sin not only blinds the eye — still worse, it perverts the vision. Instead of beholding a friend in Elijah, Ahab's jaundiced eye could see only an enemy. So it frequently is with sin-perverted sight. The faithful monitor becomes the feared and hated foe, the friendly warning is taken for enmity. A bad mind makes every face a mirror in which it beholds, without recognising, its own features. To such the very God of Love Himself presents a stern, repulsive
52 HAST THOU. FOU D ME, O MI E E EMY? aspect. In Jesus, the friend of sinners, the Jews of old could see only a possessed demoniac, and therefore they crucified Him. And so to the world still the Christ Himself has no beauty that they should desire Him, Christianity seems a system of deceit, its ministers are hateful, and every believer is regarded as a hypocrite. Of this projected and refracted enmity there are numberless illustrations. Joseph, the amiable and beautiful, was hated by his brethren, and therefore deemed their enemy. David, the most loyal and faithful servant of Saul, was by Saul regarded as a scheming usurper waiting to vault into his throne. The evil he saw in the youth existed only in his own wild, ugly passion; yet, instead of strangUng that, as he should, he tried to murder David. So also with another Saul — afterwards named Paul. The Jews of his day, when he sought to win them back to the Messiah they had rejected, could see in him only the renegade which they themselves really were, and thus they compassed heaven and earth to work his destruction. And so also in the present. The passionate, ill-natured man is an example, living always in stormy weather, even while spring and summer smile around him — always wronged, always hurt, always complaining of some enemy. He has no conception that this enemy is in his own bosom — in the sourness, the ungoverned irritability, the habitual reflection of his own bad spirit and character. Let him exorcise these hateful demons, and he will find the enemies of his delusion friends worthy of his confidence. " The same is true of the fretful — those who wear away fast and die because they have worried life out. With them everything is WTong, and no one ever does right. Husband, wife, child, friend, customer, and minister — all are wrong. They are pricked and stung at every turn
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and nothiiig frets them more than to see others get along so smoothly. To them life is a field of nettles, just because of their own stinging tempers. Would they but cast these aside, they might tread on cloth of gold and sleep on beds of down. But, the truth is, most of us are too apt to fall into this mood — to imagine some fault in our condition or surroundings. We wonder why God has given such a desert to live in, never dreaming that the desert is not around, but within us — an immense Sahara, wider and more dreary than Africa knows." A bad temper, a wrong love, ungoverned pride, restless ambition, corrupt principle — these are the real thorns of life. Oh ! that men could be so far disenchanted as to see that their condition is what they themselves are ; and that it can be only bad, and ever bad, so long as they are bad, even were all the wealth, power, and splendour of the world laid at their feet. And it is well it should be so. Thus evil checks and chides itself, hinting all the while at the needed remedy. At enmity with God, we meet not only His servants and messages, but even His blessings with antagonism. To all the exclamation of the carnal heart is, " Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" But into our own sin-blighted world One has come to destroy the enmity. Jesus has come as the Great Physician to cure those diseased souls of ours, to correct our perverted vision, and enable us to see things as they really are. " In His light ye shall see light." In Him is life, and the life is the light of men. The darkness shall flee away;
all obscurity, all misunderstanding shall be removed. It will be a new world to you. othing in the providence or in the world of God shall seem wrong or out of place. o cause of grumbling, no need to fret. Brother to brother shall be true ; neighbour with neighbour shall
34 HAST THOU FOU D MR, O MI E E EMY ? see eye to eye. The heart put right, nothing outside of it shall be wrong; and never, never more shall conscience wring from your soul the agonising exclamation, "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" ay, in Him ye shall find a friend who sticketh closer than a brother — One who will make you His brother and give you His nature. Thus renewed within, and living in the pure element of His love, this world shall become a realm of beauty, a paradise of peace, a feast of satisfying good, an instrument of joyous harmony; while the eye of faith, with unwavering confidence, shall look forward to a brighter land beyond, where no enemy can ever enter to mar your happiness, or disturb the universal and eternal peace.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
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