Luk_12:57. Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
IT appears truly wonderful, that any who beheld the miracles of our blessed Lord should be able to resist the evidence which they afforded of his being the true Messiah. Our Lord appealed to them, that they could judge with some degree of certainty about the weather: if they saw a cloud coming from the west (the Mediterranean Sea), they judged it a prognostic of rain: and if the wind blew from the south (the Arabian Desert), they expected that heat would ensue: and in these things their expectations were, for the most part, realized. Yet, though “they could thus discern, with some degree of precision, the face of the sky and of the earth, they could not discern the signs of that time [Note: ver. 54–56.];” which were so clear, that it was scarcely possible to mistake them. Hence he reproved them, in the expostulation before us, “Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?”
Let me, from these words,
Shew that man, though of himself he cannot find what is right, can yet form a good judgment of what is right, when once it is fairly proposed for his consideration—
[Man, doubtless, could not of himself devise a way in which he might obtain reconciliation with God. This it was not within the reach of any finite capacity to conceive — — — Nor could he tell how to render acceptable service to his God. The nature and extent of perfect holiness were far beyond the utmost stretch of his imagination — — —
But when God had revealed a way of salvation for man through the mediation of his only-begotten Son, and through the operation of his blessed Spirit, man, though he could not comprehend such a mystery, must say at once, ‘This, if true, is worthy of God, and fully adequate to the necessities of man:’ and the more deeply he considered it, the more fully would this conviction flash upon his mind. He would say, ‘I can never atone for one sin; but here is a sufficient atonement for the sins of the whole world. I can never work out a righteousness wherein to appear before God; but here, in the obedience of my incarnate God, I see a perfect righteousness, clothed in which, I may stand before God without spot or blemish. I can never restore to my soul that likeness to God, in which it was at first created; but the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity, is able to effect it, and to transform me into the Divine image in righteousness and true holiness. I see then, that, supposing this revelation to be from God, there is in the salvation there proposed, a suitableness, and a sufficiency, that commends it to my judgment, and must for ever endear it to my soul.’
In answer to this, that affirmation of Scripture may be adduced, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [Note: 1Co_2:14.].” But this is not owing to his incapacity to judge, provided he would judge with candour; but to his prejudices and passions, which pervert his judgment: for, of those who believe not, it is said, “The god of this world hath blinded their eyes, through the instrumentality of their own prejudices and passions, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them [Note: 2Co_4:4.].” Hence the rejection of the Gospel is always represented as aggravating the guilt of persons, “who would have had, comparatively, no sin, if they had not heard it [Note: Joh_15:22.].” And hence was that solemn warning given, “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world; and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil [Note: Joh_3:19.].” Light would commend itself to men, if they would but open their eyes to behold it: but they choose to shut their eyes, and therefore are fully responsible for the incapacity which they wantonly and perversely bring upon themselves.]
This point being proved, I will now,
Address to you the expostulation which is founded on that hypothesis—
“Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right,”
In reference to the sentiments ye shall embrace?
[You have heard, times without number, the mystery of redemption set before you: and you are no strangers to the absurd ways of salvation proposed by an ignorant and ungodly world. And can you halt between these two opinions? Can you see in man’s righteousness any thing that can be compared with Christ’s perfect righteousness, so as to doubt on which you shall rely for acceptance with God? Compare the two ways of salvation with the Scriptures of truth: Can you doubt which of the two is revealed there? which of the two appears more suited to the justice and holiness of God? which more suited to the necessities of fallen man? “Why of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” Is it any thing short of madness to reject that which God the Father has devised, and God the Son has wrought, and God the Holy Spirit has revealed; and to rest satisfied with the unauthorized surmises of short-sighted man? — — —]
In reference to the conduct ye shall pursue?
[You are taught to “give up yourselves as living sacrifices to your God,” and to aspire after “perfection” both of heart and life [Note: 2Co_13:9]. On the other hand, the world tells you, that this is all enthusiasm, and that “a mere form of godliness” will suffice. Well: Are ye at a loss to judge which is the better way? Let any one tell you, that you may win a race, or gain a victory, by sitting still; or that, if you take one step forward daily and another backward, you will as certainly arrive at your journey’s end, as if you were pressing forward daily without any intermission: you would find no difficulty in forming a judgment on those subjects. How, then, can you, for a moment, suppose lukewarmness to be the proper frame of a Christian? or that, whilst indulging it, you have any prospect of bearing off the prize of victory, even eternal life? If you can entertain no doubt of what is required for the attainment of temporal things, how can you hesitate in relation to heavenly things? But turn to the Scriptures: see what they prescribe. See what was the course of the holy men of old, Prophets, Apostles, and the primitive saints: or think what you will wish you had done, the very moment you open your eyes in the eternal world. Judge thus; and you cannot hesitate to declare which is right; the advice that urges you to “give yourselves wholly to these things,” or that which teaches you to be satisfied with outward forms and partial attainments — — —]
Those who exercise no judgment at all—
[You will bitterly regret this supineness at last — — —]
Those who act not in accordance with their judgment—
[Your guilt is still more aggravated. “The man who knew his lord’s will, and did it not, will be beaten with many stripes.” Better would it have been for you never to have heard the Gospel at all. The condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrha will be less severe than yours — — —]