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, And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. — 2 Kings io: i6. ZEAL is a very important thing in human life. It is to man what fire is to a steam engine. However perfect the machinery, it is but little worth without heat to drive it into action. Zeal is heat, ardor, earnestness, energy, — the passion which we throw into what we undertake. A man without zeal is a drone, a clog, a burden, a blot. He wins no applause; he excites no pity; he accomplishes no good. If he has talents they are buried, and not always in a napkin. He may count in the census, but he is a mere cipher of existence. The world scarcely knows that he is in it, except for what he consumes; and were he to die to-morrow, it would be no worse off from his absence. The sentence which fell upon man at the beginning requires the eating of our bread in the sweat of our brows; and, without energy in business and a vigorous and persevering putting of our hands to do with our might what we find to do, life must be a failure. No work, no bread; 518
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 519 no zeal, no manly success. This is the law of things in this present world.
And of all things in which to be zealous, zeal in our religion, — "zeal for the Lord," — needs to be vigorous and strong. Were it possible to be lukewarm in everything else and not suffer, to be lukewarm in this admits of no excuse, and has upon it the disgust and condemnation of God. Jesus has said from heaven: " I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Above all things it is required of us to "be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." All the examples which the Scriptures most commend are such as Phineas, and David, and Elijah, and Josiah, and Hezekiah, and Apollos, and Paul, and Epaphras, who were distinguished in nothing more than in the intense fervor shown for God, His worship, and His truth. Jesus has left an example for all believers to follow; and in prophecy as in its fulfillment He is represented as the one who could say, "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up." And very hard it is to see how any one can be a right man, much less a right Christian, without close imitation of those who showed themselves "very zealous for the Lord of hosts." But zeal of itself is an imperfect virtue. Even when contemplating the true God and the true service of God it may go very far astray. It may exist in flaming warmth, and exert itself with tremendous power, and still not make the man
520 ZEAL FOR GOD. in whom it burns a true and accepted servant of the Lord. It needs the guidance of wisdom and the regulation of other principles. Paul had as much zeal while a Pharisee as he had after he
became a Christian; but it made of him a bloody monster in the one case, and a very messenger of life and salvation in the other. The Jews of his time had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. And so it has been in very many instances. Tyrants and popes, Councils and Inquisitions, zealots and bigots, have murdered millions on millions of people better than themselves, and made their history a shame and scandal in the earth. No one can be a true servant of God ivitJiont zeal; but zeal alone can never make a man a saint. There must be something to qualify and direct it, or it becomes a blasting ruin and disgrace. Nor need we go further than the man who spoke the text, to see wherein zeal, even with a good and holy cause, may be so tainted and intermixed with other qualities as to make its possessor a monster and a reprobate. Jehu was sacredly called and anointed to be the King of Israel in place of the infamous and idolatrous seed of Ahab and Jezebel, all of whom he was divinely commissioned to smite and destroy. He undertook the work with daring energy, and this he called his "zeal for the Lord," which he invited Jehonadab to come with him to see. It was right that he should follow the commands God had qriven him. It was right that he
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 52 1 should bring all his power to bear against idols and idolatry. It was right that he should set himself to recover his country from the base apostacy which Jezebel and Ahab had induced. And so far his zeal was in accord with the revealed
will of heaven and in the path of duty. But it was after all a zeal which brought little credit or good to himself, and eventually called down divine judgment on his house. Note, then, the particulars in which this man's zeal was faulty and thus learn to direct our own aright. Jehu's zeal was tainted with a ferocious cruelty. It was his business, as the administrator of the laws of Israel, to make an end of that infamous woman Jezebel, w^hose impieties and crimes bereft her of every right to life and every plea of compassion ; but it was not his business to enact toward her the wanton barbarity of the savage, to have her cast unwarned from the window of her palace, to trample her body under the feet of his horses, to drive his chariot over her mangled frame in the public streets, and to let her bones lie in the highway for the dogs to crunch. It was his business to execute Jehoram, who had forfeited all title to allegiance ; but it was not his business to encounter the doomed and wounded monarch with such harsli and cruel taunts, to shoot him down like a dog, and to cast him out unburied where Naboth's blood was spilled. It was his business to put out of the way the seventy princely scions of Aliab's house ; but it was not
522 ZEAL FOR GOD. his business to do it with such cruel treachery, to have their heads carried in baskets from Samaria to Jezreel, and to stack them in heaps by the city gates as a public show. And it was also his business to bring down the power of Baal's priests and worshippers; but it was not his business to de-
ceive them with such atrocious hypocrisy to such a horrible slaughter. Thus Jehu's "zeal for the Lord " was savagely ferocious. It lacked charity, and hence was not a genuine zeal for God. True zeal, like the heavenly wisdom of which it is born, "is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." It is not indeed a mawkish sentimentalism, which cannot bear to give pain or punish the guilty. There must be vigorous firmness to discharge every duty, no matter how painful. What God commands, it must have the nerve to do without fear or favor. But it must likewise be tempered with reason and humanity. We cannot acceptably serve God while we outrage all considerations of justice, whether in word or deed. Needless severity and harshness, even to the unworthiest and guiltiest, is wrong, and betrays a spirit which is not of God. Right zeal cannot compromise with untruth or unrighteousness. It belongs to its nature to hate, abhor, and fight sin in all its forms ; but not so as to play the savage or the brute toward the sinner. A man is still a fellow man, however far he may be out of the wav ; and the oblis:ations of a common creat-
TWENTY FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 523 urehood hold with reference to his person, however necessitated by law and righteousness to condemn and punish his crime, Jehu's zeal was further marred by a vain-glorious, proud, and ostentatious spirit. A true and vigorous zeal certainly involves publicity. A man cannot be an earnest, faithful, and enterprising
servant of God without putting himself before the eyes of others. Though he may not court observation or applause, he cannot retire from notice, and do all his work in secret. Nor could Jehu fulfill the duties imposed upon him without very marked public demonstrations. But his address to Jehonadab showed far more arrogance and swelling pride than genuine piety. He did not say, Come, counsel with me, that I may make no mistakes in these peculiar duties ; or. Come, help me carry through my solemn and painful commission with due humility, gratitude, and godly fear; but he set himself up as the grand hero, and said, Come, behold me, admire me, witness the grand things that I am doing, and see if the like of me was ever in Israel. Here was vanity, conceit, and a vaunting self-consequence and self-assertion, wholly out of place in a true man of God. True religious zeal does not thus sound a trumpet before it. It vaunteth not itself Neither does it depend on human admiration and praise to perpetuate its efforts. It does not work to be seen of men, and is not eager for earthly panegyrics. It lives to God rather than to men, and is
524 ZEAL FOR GOD. ever modest in what it claims for itself, knowing that at best it is but an unworthy servant. There were no classes of people whom the Saviour condemned with greater severity than those religionists of His time who sought the chief seats in public assemblies, the uppermost rooms at feasts, and thanked God that they had not the faults and weaknesses of other men. And so
there be many still who are never to be seen except on great occasions, who will not serve if they cannot lead, who must be petted, and pampered, and pleased, and admired, or their activity and devotion all goes from them, and who seem to think that everything is going to rack and ruin unless they are at the helm. But all such zeal is Pharisaism, born of the vanity and depravity of man, and not of the Spirit of God. And all who take to religion and its activites for show and self-importance, and use the plea of ''zeal for the Lord" to win admiration, favor, or public notoriety for themselves, are mere Jehus, corrupt in mind and destitute of the living power of the truth. And a yet further defect in Jehu's zeal was its lack of moral principle and honest consistency. Good ends can never justify wicked means. No earnestness of pious endeavor can ever supersede the laws of eternal moralit)-. A man cannot lie, and deceive, and play the foul trickster, even for the success of a good cause or the glory of God, without compromising his virtue and his saintship. Jesuitism is devilism, no matter how it
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 525 may varnish or disguise itself. It is specially forbidden to do evil that good may come. But this is just what tainted the sudden zeal of Jehu. He adopted the most perfidious deceit, falsehood, and hypocrisy to destroy the worshippers of Baal ; and when his treacherous butchery of them was over his devotion to the true worship was after all so weak, suspicious, and self-seeking that he refused to make common cause with it as established at Jerusalem, and set up "the golden calves of
Bethel and Dan," saying, " These be thy gods, O Israel!" The zeal that would honor God, and that God honors, must in all things obey God. It cannot transgress one commandment under plea of devotion to another. It cannot serve righteousness by adventuring into wickedness, A heart that can deceitfully proclaim the glory of Baal, even though meant for Baal's destruction, is too rotten to be trusted for Jehovah, and will just as soon deify golden calves when that suits its purposes. If we would serve God, we must serve Him honestly, truthfully, consistently. It will not do to be zealous to pull motes out of the eyes of others, while beams are sticking in our own ; or to be strict in tything mint, anise, and cummin, while the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith, are trampled under foot. Of what use can it be to our estate with God, outwardly to appear righteous unto men, while inwardly full of hypocrisy and iniquity ? What credit is it to strain to put down one evil while exemplifying
526 ZEAL FOR GOD. another? What virtue is there in fighting for a cause which we are ready to compromise on the first temptation? An old bishop has said, "No zeal is right which is not charitable;" and we may add with equal point, No zeal is right which is not thoroughly moral. I once knew a man who was never so earnest a Christian as when he was a little drunk ; but such a zeal is a thing of disgust both to God and man. True zeal is the outbirth of a pure and holy spirit. It is not a romantic sentiment that glows
only while the glamour lasts. It is not an affectation, put on from without, and having no counterpart in the qualities of the soul. It is not a mere sympathetic furore, caught from others, as the coward also rushes into battle, and as the multitude runs without knowing why. It is not a mere galvanism of the spirits, artificially wrought up for some special emergency, which subsides or changes when the spurt is over. It is a living principle, grounded in the heart, fed and sustained by conviction and love of right, which lives to the truth and eye of God, and is a vital part of the inmost character of the man, in sunshine and in shade. It is a live coal from the heavenly altar, which cleanses and purges while it animates the soul, and makes it warm and ready to answer to every call of God, ''''Here am I ; send me^ It is not the spirit of party, the impulse of self, the mere influence of association, the obstinacy of a favorite scheme, the endurance of a proud nature, the carnal thirst for applause,
TWENTV-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 527 the greed for personal aggrandizement ; but that spirit of faith which led Moses to choose suffering with the people of God rather than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ o-reater riches than all the treasures in Egypt. It is true religion made living and potent in the soul, which consecrates the whole man, with all his powers and for all his days, to the humble, patient, unswerving, and unabridged devotion to God and duty, trusting in Him whose is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory. And this, dear friends, is what I am here to
inculcate. A word from the eternal throne has come forth to every one of us. It tells of a God to be honored, a cause to be served, wrongs to be righted, and great things to be achieved; and that we are here for the purpose. There is no room for doubt as to the part meant for us to take. What response, then, have we given to the heavenly message ? How have we been answering to the word and anointing of Jehovah? Many live and act as if there were no God, no prophets by Him commissioned, no word from heaven for them to obey. But life was not given for such inanition. Many have had the anointing of holy Baptism, consecrating them to a life of faith and activity for God, who slumber in sin, and live along in dead inertia toward their sacred calling, as if they had no souls to do for, no Christ to serve, no work for Him, no account to render at the last. "Woe
528 ZEAL FOR GOD. to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me; and that cover with a covering, but not of My Spirit!" And even of those who have sworn unto the Lord, and laid their vows upon His altar, how many are as indifferent as if the cause of God and righteousness were scarcely to be distinguished from the gay and idolatrous world? If ever they were earnest and ardent in their profession, they have left their first love. Their ardor has lost its flame. Their zeal is dead. Some are vain enough to think themselves rich, and increased with goods, and needing nothing; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Alas, what fresh quickening from
on high do all such people need ! Nay, what spiritual revival do we all need, to make us such Christians as we ought to be ! The great thing required for the Church of our times, both in its leaders and in its people, is a new baptism of fire, to kindle and warm them into a pure and living seal for God, as against the idolatries, apostacies, shams, and lies which everywhere infest society, and are fast dragging this present world to its destruction. And the way to get it is, for each one individually to turn unto the Lord his God with vigorous energy and devotion, to repent out of all existing deadness, and to join the life of a Christian with the name. What our hands find to do, we must do. And with each one ready and thirsting to do the will of God, and to serve Him with an undivided
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 529 heart, there will be no lack of genuine zeal for the Ivord of hosts. God help us to be true and faithful to our calling, that we may be His in the great day. Work for the good that is nighest ; Dream not of greatness afar ; That glory is ever the highest Which shines upon men as they are. Work, though the world would defeat you; Heed not its slander nor scorn ; Nor weary till angels shall greet you
With smiles through the gates of the mom. Offer thy life on the altar ; In the high purpose be strong; And if the tired spirit should falter, Then sweeten thy labor with song.
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