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Transgressions

[Am. I.

instruments of iron : 4. But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad. 5. I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the Lord. Here follow eight nations with whom the Sovereign Lord of all the

earth enters into judgment. First comes Syria, Israel's neighbour and enemy. Syria crushed Israel to the earth, 'made it like the dust by threshing' (2 Kings xiii. 17). Syria represents cruelty and hardness of heart. Our God, who sits enthroned in His holy place, looks out thence and surveys the earth ; all things are open to His eyes. Grant me, Lord, to keep a tender heart always, to feel for the oppressed, to avoid all oppression and wrong, lest Thy wrath find out my wealth and security

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6. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom: 7. But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof: 8. And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron : and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord God. Next, the Philistines are threatened. They carried Israelites into

slavery to "sett them to their foes. The walls and palaces of Philistia should not protect them in the day of God's vengeance. His fire should consume their glory.) Philistia represents the spirit of covetousness which puts money before all other considerations, yea, before 'souls of men. Be it mine to value souls most, and consider riches as of less importance.

9. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant : 10. But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof. Rich and glorious Tyre, the capital of commerce, appears under VER. 15.]

sentence in this vision, as she does in the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel. Her fault is, that she (forgot the old friendliness that

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had existed between Tyre and Israel, and thought only of making money by selling captive Israelites into hopeless bondage.) God remembers this, and will surely punish it. Tyrian glory shall waste away in consuming flames. Tyrians had then a law of God within themselves, though not the written Word. They had within them a Divine warning a Divine guidance, bidding them remember mercy, remember a friendliness. This they had despised.

II. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof ; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever :

12. But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. Edom's fault is unforgivingness. He was addressed of old, thus saith thy brother

Israel.' (Esau's kinship with Jacob and the solemn reconciliation between them (Gen. xxxiii.) made a tie of love, but later generations turned it into a constant and unrelenting enmity. “The children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem rejoiced over the calamities of God's people. May I, O Lord, learn thy New Testament lesson of mercy! Let me forgive, for I have much to be forgiven. Let me put away Old Testament thoughts of retaliation, and remember that my eternal lot depends absolutely on Thy readiness to forgive my many sins.] That thought, if anything can, should dispose my hard heart to pass over wrongs that have been done to me.

15. And

13. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border: 14. But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind : their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the Lord. In Ammon I see cruelty exercised in a calculating spirit. They

destroyed even the unborn life that there might be no one left to claim the land, that no one might ever arise to dispute their acquisitions. For this they would themselves be enwrapt in a whirlwind of destruction that should prostrate their nation to the earth. As Ammonites destroyed the infant's life hardly begun, so false teachers and tempters crush the life of God just begun

(In

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Transgressions of Moab

[Am. II.

within the soul, spoil the first tender beginnings of grace, rob God of His children. This is as hateful in His eyes as the more visible forms of oppression in old days. This depopulates His Church, makes His Altar forsaken by the young.

CHAPTER II

THUN
MHUS saith the Lord ; For three transgressions of Moab,

and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: 2. But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kirioth : and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet : 3. And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the Lord. Moab showed contempt for natural reverence in treating thus the body of the King of Edom (probably at the time mentioned in 2 Kings iii., when Edom was in alliance with Israel and Judah); they would not spare even the dead body of him who had forsaken their cause and helped their enemies.) This is like the spirit of calumny, which goes on saying evil even of the dead. It never forgives, never casts a veil over the past, has no pity for frailty, but always delights to rake up mischief.

4. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof ; because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked : 5. But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. After the judgment on the heathen comes the time for the Church of

God to be judged. Here is found the Law of the Lord, and a greater responsibility for despising it ; here are commandments, and yet they are not obeyed; here is falsehood come in to be enthroned in the place of Divine Truth; here are bad examples given by parents and followed by children. O Lord, in Thy Church are much greater privileges than the Heathen enjoy, and also a greater wrath upon us who misuse them. Do thou increase our obedience and our love according to our knowledge. Let us

VER. 11.)

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not be gathered up with the despisers of sacred things. We fear not literal fire, but Thy wrath, which consumes praises and blessings, and leaves only seared and withered hearts.)

6. Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof ; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes ; 7. That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: 8. And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god. Israel is the main object of the Prophet's warnings. He sees there

injustice, oppression, foulness, a show of religion covering wrong. Under the name of Israel the Prophet addresses not the Ten Tribes only, but Catholic Christians. It is the Church of God in all ages that he has in view. He scourges our contempt for humble souls, our depravation of religious names to party strife, our corruption of Divine Truth by mixing it with our own inventionsand Scripture insists upon the rights and dignity of the poor, the worth of each believing soul, the sham of religious phrases without reality. The religion that prevailed in Israel permitted its professors to cheat, to oppress, to turn worship into sin.

9. Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. 10. Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness,

the land of the Amorite. II. And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, 0 ye children of Israel ? saith the Lord. For Christians God has wrought greater wonders than for His ancient

people. Sin and death were giants mightier than the kings of the Amorites, and Christ's Victory is more lasting and beneficial than those which Joshua won. We have been set free from the bondage of the law, and of despair, and of our own past follies, and set on the heavenward road with good hope.) Prophets and Apostles full of light have taught us sacred truth. *Christian Nazarites have shown examples of separation from the world, of devotion to mercy and prayer, such as history had not known. Nor has God failed of His promise through the ages. His victorious Grace, His tender Providence, His guiding Light are known

to possess

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The Cart groaning under its Load

[Am. III.

to those who trust Him. It is indeed true that God has set us in heavenly places, brought us near to Him, done all that our salvation required.

12. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not. 13. Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves. What is this fpirit of worldliness that deters the young from ap

proaching God's Altar, from seeking the sacred ministry, from devoting themselves to God's immediate service? What is this (strong passion for material well-being that refuses to hear of unseen blessings ? We live in days when the whole influence of society runs in this direction, treating religion as a mere dream compared to the solid pudding of the present life.] God, Who has done so much to quicken our hearts, is now put on one side, and men pretend to manage without Him. O poor and hollow pretext which breaks down when temptation and pain come near!

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14. Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself : 15. Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself. 16. And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the Lord. Before the foe, down came all Israel's might; horses, arms, skill,

swiftness, availed them nothing. So in the storms to come will our boasted independence of religious sanctions, our professed reliance on this world's gains, fail when we need it most. O dear Lord, there have been in our own day great revolutions, destroying wars, and these proved what manner of fortitude armed our hearts. When all we leant upon gave way, what Friend but Thee sustained us? (Let faith in Thee be our strong shield, our safe refuge.

CHAPTER III

EAR this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O

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brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,

2. You only

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