A DISSUASIVE FROM THE FEAR OF MA.

THE REV. C. SIMEO, M.A.
Isai. li. 7, 8. Hearken unto me, ye that knoiu righteousfiess, the
people in whose heart is my law : Fear ye not the reproach of
men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings: for the moth shall
eat them up like a garmenty and the worm shall eat them like
wool; hut my righteousness shall be for ever^ and my salva-
tion from generation to generation.
OUR heavenly Father, anxious that we should
attend to his word in every thing, uses various means
to impress it on our minds: sometimes he issues his
commands with authority, and enforces them with
threatenings of his displeasure : at other times he
exhorts with more than parental tenderness, and
persuades us with the most encouraging considera-
tions. Thus, in the chapter before us, he says no
less than three times, '' Hearken to me, O my
people M" In that spirit we would now address you.
It is in Jehovah's name that we speak, yea, and in
his very place and stead '': and we intreat you to
listen with an obedient ear, whilst we guard you
against one of the most dangerous snares in which
Satan entangles the souls of men. We invite your
attention then to the words of our text, and beg you
to consider,
I. The fact here supposed —
The supposition does certainly at first sight appear
strange —
[Had it been intimated, that persons professing religion
and at the same time dishonouring it by their conduct, would
be objects of reproach, it would have been nothing but what
we might reasonably expect; because hypocrisy is more de-
testable than even the most flagrant vice: but that persons
" in whose heart is God's law," and who consequently reve-
rence and obey all the commandments of God, should be
reviled and hated, seems almost incredible. We should be
ready to think that such persons would rather be universally
loved and honoured, not ,only because all occasion of blame
is cut off from them, but because there is in them an assem-
blage of all that is virtuous and praise-worthy.]
But the fact supposed is common in all ages —
[The very first-born of the human race hated and mur-
dered his own brother, for no other cause than his superior
piety: and it was on similar grounds that Ishmael mocked and
derided his brother Isaac. Our blessed Lord experienced
similar treatment from the men of his day; and has taught all
his followers to expect the same. After portraying the cha-
racter
*ver. 1, 4, 7. ^2 Cor. v. 20.
VOL. V. D D
402 ISAIAH, Li: 7, 8. [52^*
racter of his people in a great variety of particulars, he adds,
" Blessed are ye, when men shall hate and revile you^" We
are ready to wonder that such an expression should he intro-
duced in such a connexion; but a Uttle observation will suffice
to convince us that that addition was not made without reason.]
or is it difficult to account for this fact —
[The natural man hates God'^; and consequently hates his
image, wherever it appears Moreover, men have esta-
lljshed a false standard for judging; viewing things only in
reference to this present life. What wonder then if they account
those to be fools and mad, who disregard the things of time
and sense, and look only to the things that are invisible and
eternal ? But, in condemning the godly, they are actuated also
in no small degree hy self-defence. It is obvious, that, if the
godly be right, the ungodly must be wrong: yea, if there be
only a remote probabihty that the godly may be right, the
ungodly must be wrong, because they do not pause to examine
carefully into the truth or falsehood of their own opinions.
Hence the ungodly decide at once, and load the godly with
revihngs and reproach, as the only, or, at least, the easiest
way of justifying their own conduct.]
The existence of this fact being clearly ascertained,
let us contemplate,
II. The advice here given in reference to it —
Here let us notice,
1 . The advice itself —
[The human mind naturally shrinks back from revilings
and reproach: and well it may, when any thing really dis-
graceful is imputed to us. Such a regard to the opinions of
men, so far from being wrong, is truly amiable and praise-
worthy; and a want of it would argue extreme degeneracy,
and inveterate corruption. one but those who are hardened
with pride, and insensible to shame, will ever presume to set
public opinion at defiance. But where " the revilings and
reproact" are wholly unmerited, and we have the testimony
of our own consciences that we are " persecuted only for
righteousness' sake," we may then discard all fear, and all
concern about the ignominy to which we are exposed'*''. In
i.JLch a case we do well to '' set our face as a flint against the
uhole world," and even to glory in the reproachc s that are
cast upon us. Under such circumstances we do not hesitate
to repeat the advice which God himself gives us in the text,
" Fear not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their
revilings."
« Matt. v. 3 — 1 1 , & Luke vi. 20—23. '' Rom. viii. 7.
'•'•This distinction is made by St. Peter. I Pet.iv. 14— 1 6
523.] A DISSUASIVE FROM THE FEAR OF MA. 403
revilings." We would not so entirely exclude all prudential
considerations as to prescribe exactly the same line of conduct
to all persons; because we can conceive many situations in
which reserve and caution are expedient, with a view to
greater ultimate good : but in all cases, and under all cir-
cumstances, the fear of man must be put away ; and we must
follow what we believe to be the true line of our duty, even
though the whole world should combine to censure and con-
demn us.]
, 2. The considerations with which it is enforced —
[What is man, or what is his reproach, that we should
be afraid of any thing that he can say ? Let him carry his
enmity to the uttermost, he can do no more than kill the
body : our spiritual and eternal interests are wholly out of
his reach*: and, in a little time, the proudest persecutor
will be as impotent as the worm he treads on : " the very
moth shall eat him up like a garment." What is become of
those who, in different and distant ages, have set themselves
against the Lord and his Christ ? they are swept away, and
" gone to their own place." But the Gospel which they op-
posed, still survives and flourishes, and proves at this day as
effectual for the salvation of men as ever. The doctrine of
a crucified Saviour is still as precious as at any period of the
world : it still avails to heal the woimds which sin laas in-
flicted, and to fill with light and peace and joy the souls of
the weary and heavy-laden. And, whilst the Gospel itself
continues unchanged, what is now the state of those who
once suffered reproach for the Gospel sake ? Are they the
less happy on account of what they once endured ? or do
they now regret that they exposed themselves to ignominy
and contempt for the sake of Christ ? o : their fehcity has
been inconceivably enhanced by every persecution they en-
dured; and throughout all eternity will they rejoice that they
were counted worthy to suffer shame for their Redeemer's
sake**.
What reason then have we to fear enemies who are so inca-
pable of inflicting on us any serious injury, and over whom our
triumph will be so speedy, so complete, so certain, so
glorious ? The smallest reflection on the eternal states of the
oppressors and oppressed will surely reconcile us to any
thing that we may be called to suffer in our way to heaven.]
Let us now add a word,
1. Of caution —
[Whilst we exhort all to despise reproach, we must
intreat
' Luke xii. 4, 5.
*': See these different states described, Isai. Ixvi. 5. and Ixv. 13, 14.
404 ISAIAH, Liv. 6—10. [524.
intreat you so to walk, as not to vierit it. If persons pro-
fessing godliness act in any respect unworthy of their pro-
fession, they bring contempt, not on themselves only, but on
relifrion itself; and the very " truth of God will be evil
spoken of through their means." It is possible too to bring
just reproach on ourselves, by indulging in needless singu-
larities. Religion is a wise and sober thing; and is calcu-
lated to " make us perfect in every good work." We would
intreat you therefore to " cut off occasion from those who
seek occasion against you," and to " walk wisely before God
in a perfect way." If you profess to " know righteousness,"
let your whole conduct prove that the " law of God is in your
heart." This is of such infinite importance, that we cannot
forbear urging it upon you after the example of God him-
self; " Hearken to me, hearken to me, hearken to me, O my
people !"]
2. Of encouragement —
[Though we are to expect nothing but revilings and re-
proach for our fidelity to God, it is possible that we may in
reality be honoured for that very conduct, which, in appear-
ance, has exposed us to shame : for there is something in a
holy and consistent life which carries a secret conviction to
the minds of our accusers, and tends not only to silence^, but
to win, them^. And, though we can never hope that an un-
convel-ted man shall love us, we may hope that he shall " be at
peace with iis^" and even become a witness for us against
those who yet load us with their reproaches '. But, however
this may be, man's judgment is but for a day^; and then the
Lord's time will come, and our righteousness will shine forth
as the noon-day '. Be contented then to follow your Divine
Master, and to bear your cross as he has done before you:
and be assured, that " if you suffer with him, you shall also be
glorified together™."]
' iPet. ii. 12, 15. "^ 1 Pet. iii. 1. '' Prov.xvi. 7-
* Luke xxiii. 14, 15, 22. ^ See 1 Cor. iv. 3. The Greek.
^ 1 Cor. iv. 5. "• 1 Pet. iv. 12, 13. Rom. viil. ly.
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