Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - Ezekiel 33:11 - 33:11

Online Resource Library

Return to PrayerRequest.com | Commentary Index | Bible Index | Search | Prayer Request | Download

Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - Ezekiel 33:11 - 33:11


(Show All Books | Show All Chapters)

This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

God and the Sinner

As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?—Eze_33:11.

1. Our text must be viewed in the light of the preceding fact that the prophet, by Divine commandment, had pronounced a judgment on Israel. That judgment had declared that their transgressions were on them, and that they would die in their sins. To this denunciation in the verse preceding the text they reply: “If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?” The answer of the people is an expression of despair and helplessness. But it is more. It charges God with the helplessness and despair of their situation, and seeks to justify themselves. It is as if they had said: “How can you blame us for not living? Who has resisted Gods will? We are powerless to help ourselves! Our death is by Gods imperious, irresistible decree. It is His pleasure that we should die, and we cannot help ourselves.” To this charge, making God responsible for their death, the text replies: “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

2. The people to whom Ezekiels message was addressed were not familiar with the idea of the Divine righteousness, and they could not at once perceive that anger against sin was consistent in God with pity for the sinner and mercy towards the contrite. The task of the prophet was to transform their attitude of sullen impenitence into one of submission and hope, by teaching them the meaning of judgment, the efficacy of repentance, the possibility and the conditions of forgiveness. And this could be taught to them only through a revelation of the free and infinite grace of God.

It is thus that God meets Israels hard thoughts concerning Him. Instead of being provoked to anger by their rebelliousness He answers their suspicious unbelief by a reiteration of His words of grace. How patient, how long-suffering, how condescending! Instead of executing vengeance, He renews the assurances of His unfeigned, loving interest in their welfare. Unmoved by their taunts and charges of insincerity, He approaches them in the posture of a friend; He repeats the declaration of His gracious mind; He adds new, and larger, and fuller asseverations of His unwearied and inexhaustible compassion. God thus, in the most solemn way, declares to us His loving intentions. He has laid bare the inmost thoughts of His heart. He tells us that these thoughts are the very opposite of ours; that His desire is not to destroy, but to save.

I

A Divine Declaration

“As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”

It would seem as if the despair of man won from God His profoundest secret, His most healing revelation. The solemn affirmation with which the text opens means that before we can disprove the benevolent attitude of the Divine mind toward the sinner we must disprove the being of God. “As I live, saith the Lord”; just as certain as I exist, just as certain as I have self-existence, just as certain as that existence is eternal, just as certain is it that God has no pleasure in mens everlasting death.

Is it not wonderful that God should stoop so low as to confirm His promise by an oath? When men do this they always swear by one greater than themselves. God has none greater than Himself, so He swears by His own eternal being, saying, “As surely as I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he should turn unto me and live.” I remember how astonished and touched I was when I first saw this truth. I wept with emotion at the thought of Gods love and His eager desire that I should be saved; and I “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before me.” I saw that His promise and His oath were quite sufficient for me to cling to, and that they could never, never fail.1 [Note: J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, 285.]

1. Among the most subtle devices of sin to keep the soul under its power, and prevent the mans turning to God, is the slandering of the Most High by misrepresenting His character. As dust blinds the eye, so does sin prevent the sinner from seeing God aright. “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God”; but the wicked see only what they think to be God, and that, alas, is an image as unlike to God as possible! They say, for instance, that God is unmerciful, whereas He delighteth in mercy. The unfaithful servant in the parable was quite sure about it, and said most positively, “I knew that thou art an austere man”; whereas the nature of God is as opposite to overbearing and exaction as light is to darkness. When men once get this false idea of God into their minds they become hardened in heart; believing that it is useless to turn to God, they go on in their sins with greater determination. They conceive that God is either implacable, or that He is indifferent to human prayers, or that, if He should hear them, yet He is not in the least likely to grant a favourable answer.

Mercy never bears so grand a look, or moves so majestically, as when she takes counsel of justice. No man is ever so magnificently just as he that can be even tenderly merciful, no man so truly merciful as one that can hold steadily exact the balance of truth and justice. Our highest impressions of Gods justice are obtained when we conceive it as the partly discretionary dispensation of a mind in the tenderness and loving patience of the cross; our highest impressions of His mercy when we conceive it as the wonderful sacrifice to which even His justice allows Him to bend. Little honour then does any one pay to Gods judicial majesty in a scheme of satisfaction that takes away His right of discretion and requires Him to stand for His exact equivalent of pain, according to the count of arithmetic.2 [Note: H. Bushnell, The Vicarious Sacrifice, 236.]

2. When we come to think of God, what is it we must find at the centre of His nature so far as we can conceive of Him in His greatness? Is it not His goodness—is it not that heart of benevolent intentions and desires that leads Him as the great centre to spread His mercies over all His works and to make manifest the loving-kindness of His heart whenever His ways are understood? Beyond all question, good is God, and God is good. God is love, and love properly understood is infinite goodness. In the deep nature where He feels more than all created goodness can feel, and the infinite intensity of that heart of love that constitutes Him God, is there not reason why He should say, and say with emphasis, and confirm it with this oath, as He has written it in the blood of His Son, that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked? “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here is the attitude of Gods mind towards sinners. Here is His yearning over them. Here is His boundless love. Here is the means devised for their redemption. Not even the devil can face that epitome of the gospel and affirm Gods pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Of the three great truths that God is Spirit, is Light, is Love, this last is the chief, for the other two ideas are incomplete without it. If, says Augustine, this one thing only were all we were told by the voice of the Spirit of God, that God is love, nothing more ought we to require. All the Divine attributes are combined in love, as in their centre and vital principle. This unity of the Divine nature is more than a moral union, it is one of essence, it is one of holiness. In the words of Van Oosterzee, God is Holy Love. All His properties must be regarded as the attributes of love. Gods power is thus the power of love; Gods knowledge the intelligence of love; Gods righteousness the righteousness of love.1 [Note: R. F. Weidner, Theologia, or the Doctrine of God, 30.]

The love of God is too great to understand and to grasp, for it is infinite. It would be too great to believe, only He who is the Truth has said it. Let us then wonder and be amazed at it, while we believe in it. This is the feeling God would work in you by it. “Can it be?” might be the question of wondering love at the infinite and unutterable love of God, or it might be doubt. When the question comes, let us thank God that it is, and then the feeling will be, not doubt but admiring love.2 [Note: The Story of Dr. Puseys Life, 361.]

3. The universality of the gospel invitations, their earnestness, their broadness, is an evidence of the truth that a sinners death can never be attributed to Gods pleasure. Gods pleasure runs in another direction. It is further evidenced by the welcome that is extended to the man who accepts the invitation and who returns to God. Read the fifteenth chapter of Luke, in that matchless parable of the prodigal son: “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and … said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.… It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.” In this beautiful image is expressed the attitude of God towards any sinner who turns and repents. The naturalness of it is the force of it. Its power is in the adaptation to our conception. We can understand when a wayward son has run away from home and wasted his substance in riotous living, and yet, when in want, seeks by repentance to return to the fathers house—we can understand that the old mans heart would go out to his erring and wandering boy, and that he would not spurn him from his door; that he would keep the light shining in the windows that he might see it and return, and that he would welcome him with more joy than one who had never been astray. Now one cannot look at a scene of that kind and say that that father had pleasure in the want and in the death of his boy. One could not look at that welcome and say that the reason the boy was in such deplorable condition was that his fathers mind was hostile to him.

And it is when we look to God as He is manifested in Jesus Christ that we can see why God should speak with such earnestness as is expressed in the text before us. Jesus of Nazareth have pleasure in the death of the wicked! Jesus of Nazareth leave men to perish when He could as easily save them as He could move His finger! Jesus of Nazareth, who could not suffer a reproof to a mother bringing to Him her infant that He might lay His hands upon it, and bless it! Jesus of Nazareth, who could not see the widow and her dead son, without His heart being moved and melted with compassion! Jesus of Nazareth, who could not hear the blind man crying to Him for sight without stopping the procession of His triumphal entry, and calling for the man to be brought to Him! Jesus of Nazareth, who, when He felt the bloody sweat drop from His brow, in the terrific agonies of the curse that was wringing His heart, and said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” had love enough for the souls for whom He had died to say, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done”—and who took that cup and held it to His lips until He could say, “It is finished,” and bowed His head, and died. Jesus of Nazareth having pleasure in the death of the wicked! If we take God as He is seen in Christ, and understand Him as He is there seen, we can have no difficulty in perceiving how natural and reasonable it was that He should send a message like this to a people, like the Jews in Ezekiels time, who complained that they could not help themselves, and that God could help them, but did not care to do so.

The battle is virtually won if you come to believe that in Jesus of Nazareth God was manifested in the flesh, and that it is your first and highest duty to bow before Him with penitence for your sin and trust in His mercy. And I can promise you, on the strength of the experience of one who, like yourselves, once saw his early faith covered with a boundless sea of darkness, that if you once reach a firm belief in this fundamental fact, the waters shall some day begin to ebb—shall drain down to the depths whence they came; and, as the flood retires, that solitary truth—the manifestation of God in the person of Christ—shall gradually be surrounded by province after province of Divine revelation, beautiful with fresh verdure and pleasant streams, and rich with yellow harvests; and, hidden deep beneath the soil, there shall be a secret treasure of wisdom and of joy: the gold and the crystal cannot equal it, and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.1 [Note: R. W. Dale, From Doubt to Faith (Exeter Hall Lectures, 1864), 12.]

It is the greatness of Thy love, dear Lord, that we would celebrate

With sevenfold powers.

Our love at best is cold and poor, at best unseemly for Thy state,

This best of ours.

Creatures that die, we yet are such as Thine own hands deigned to create:

We frail as flowers,

We bitter bondslaves ransomed at a price incomparably great

To grace Heavens bowers.

Thou callest: “Come at once”—and still Thou callest us: “Come late, tho late”—

(The moments fly)—

“Come, every one that thirsteth, come”—“Come prove Me, knocking at My gate”—

(Some souls draw nigh!)—

“Come thou who waiting seekest Me”—“Come thou for whom I seek and wait”—

(Why will we die?)—

“Come and repent: come and amend: come joy the joys unsatiate”—

—(Christ passeth by …)—

Lord, pass not by—I come—and I—and I.1 [Note: Christina G. Rossetti, Some Feasts and Fasts.]



II

A Divine Appeal

“Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways.”

The declaration of the text that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked is followed by the converse statement that Gods desire is that the wicked should turn from his way and live. An urgent appeal is then made to the sinner, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways.” This importunity on the part of God proves yet more fully His real desire. It is like one vehemently enforcing an invitation upon an unwilling listener, making a last effort to save the heedless or resisting. He lifts up His voice; He stretches out His hand; He exhorts; He commands; He expostulates; He entreats, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways.” Must not He who thus reasons and remonstrates, repeating and re-repeating His entreaty, enforcing and urging home His message with every kind of loving argument, as well as with every form of solemn appeal,—must not He be truly in earnest in His desire for the salvation of the sinner?

1. What is the turning from our evil ways which is here signified? It is not shedding a few tears of sorrow and remorse. It is not forming a few serious resolutions. It is not leaving off a few bad practices. It is not attending to religious duties more constantly, or more strictly, than formerly. By the expression “turning from our evil ways” is meant a deep and total change of the heart and life, a conversion of the whole soul, a turning from sin to God. The person who is turned from his evil ways is a “new creature”; he has a new heart and a new spirit: “old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new.” He has new desires and dispositions, and these lead him to walk in newness of life; so that henceforth he proves, in a manner which cannot be mistaken, that he has indeed turned out of “the broad road of destruction” into “the narrow way that leadeth unto life.”

A young soldier, who had led a careless life, but had become afterwards a Christian, described very well the change that had been wrought in him when he said—“Jesus Christ said to me, Right about face! And I heard and obeyed Him in my heart.” That is exactly what we call “conversion.” It is a turning-about of the face—from the world to God. But with the face it is a turning also of the heart.1 [Note: 1 C. A. Salmond, For Days of Youth, 42.]

2. The life which forms the termination of the one way is as certain as the death which forms the termination of the other. It is in the way of life that God so earnestly desires to see men walking. However far astray they have gone, and however near the confines of the second death they may have come, He beckons them back with His gracious hand, and beseeches them with His most loving voice, “Come now, and let us reason together.” Nay, more, He commands them to turn. It is not mere liberty to retrace their steps that He gives them; He lays His command upon them; and it is at their peril that they disobey. “Am I at liberty to come to God?” one asks perhaps. At liberty to come! Is that the way to put it? At liberty to obey His direct command! One dare not do otherwise! There is all the obligation that a command can give; there is a necessity laid upon us, an immediate necessity, a necessity from which nothing can loose us, a necessity arising out of the very righteousness of that God who is commanding us to quit our unrighteousness, a necessity springing from the certain doom that awaits us if we turn not.

God perceives His poor creature standing with his back to Him, looking to idols, looking to sinful pleasures, looking towards the city of destruction, and what does God say to him? He says, “Turn!” It is a very plain direction; is it not? “Turn,” or “Right about face!” That is all. “I thought,” saith one, “I was to feel so much anguish and so much agony.” I should not wonder if you do feel it, but all that God says is, “Turn.” You now face the wrong way; “Turn,” and face the right way. That turning is true repentance. A changed life is of the essence of repentance; and that must spring from a changed heart, from a changed desire, from a changed will.1 [Note: C. H. Spurgeon.]

3. When man is posting on to death, God, as it were, follows after him, and, standing in the way before him, He spreads out His hands of entreaty, crying, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways.” God knows the awful fate that awaits the transgressor—a fate to which the transgressor himself is often hastening blindly—and He warns him and pleads with him. He appeals to his reason, to his conscience, to his affections. How deeply affecting is the anxiety of God on mans behalf! Cold is the heart that can resist His tender entreaty. What is the warmest human appeal compared with the appeal of God to man? But powerful as that appeal is, it is an appeal and nothing more. God does not compel the will. His influence upon men is suasive. Heaven persuades; man decrees. The appeal of God is to the free and rational nature of man. Man is not the victim of fate. He is not the creature of circumstances. He can get the better of his environment. The powers of evil which have gotten hold of him may be conquered. It lies with himself to decide whether he will die or live. His power of self-action is here appealed to. “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways.” Why rush on to ruin when you can turn and live? Why perish in sin when the Good Physician is standing near and asking, “Wilt thou be made whole?” The choice of the will is the fiat of destiny.

We talk about the power of the will, but no effort of will can obliterate the life that we have lived, or add a cubit to our stature; we cannot abrogate any law of nature, or destroy a single atom of matter. What it seems that we can do with the will is to make a certain choice, to select a certain line, to combine existing forces, to use them within very small limits. We can oblige ourselves to take a certain course, when every other inclination is reluctant to do it. Any one who will deliberately test his will, will find that it is stronger than he suspects; what often weakens our use of it is that we are so apt to look beyond the immediate difficulty into a long perspective of imagined obstacles, and to say within ourselves, “Yes, I may perhaps achieve this immediate step, but I cannot take step after step—my courage will fail!” Yet if one does make the immediate effort, it is common to find the whole range of obstacles modified by the single act; and thus the first step towards the attainment of serenity of life is to practise cutting off the vista of possible contingencies from our view, and to create a habit of dealing with a case as it occurs.1 [Note: A. C. Benson, Where No Fear Was (1914), 229, 232.]

Amiel is a classical instance of the man in whom culture or knowledge has weakened certain elementary powers, faiths, instincts, in the absence of which, nevertheless, a man ceases to be himself. He will not commit himself in any particular case—he sees so much on the other side and on all sides. He will not apply himself to one thing—there are in this world so many things. Now, if in any urgent matter, either of duty or of faith, a man refuses to act, to make a personal choice, simply because there are so many facts and circumstances in the world which if he only knew them all might lead him to act differently, or refrain from acting altogether, that man is going against the ordinary practice of life in every region.… Just as by an act of your will, if need be, and in order to read this page, you must for the moment neglect the entire world, and confine yourself to the type and to the play of ideas and associations which it awakens in your mind; and by so doing—so far as this present moment is concerned—you live and assert yourself. So, in all personal matters which involve choice, judgment, decision, in matters of life or of faith, what you shall do, how you shall believe, it is necessary, when face to face with your question, to put away things which are obviously extraneous, and, with what wisdom you have, deal with the issue within narrower limits.2 [Note: J. A. Hutton, Pilgrims in the Region of Faith, 47.]

III

A Divine Expostulation

“Why will ye die?”

1. The text concludes with an expostulation. Man as a sinner is in danger of eternal death. To the first man that ever lived the warning was given, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” or, “dying thou shalt die”; that is, the act of disobedience in eating of the forbidden fruit would plant within him the seed of death, and he would become a dying man. Sin and death are cause and effect. As the seed contains the germ of the future flower, sin contains the germ of spiritual death. When once a person has been bitten by a venomous serpent he is a dying man. The surface wound may be very slight, and no danger may be apprehended, but the poison has got into the blood, and it will quickly search its way to the very centre and fountain of life. It is therefore no mere figure of speech to say that any one who is harbouring sin in his soul is a dying man. If the poison of sin is not neutralized it will surely work his eternal ruin. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” It dies by sinning. God has so made it that the wages of its sin are its death. This terrible law permits of no break. It may be met, counteracted, forestalled, arrested; its accumulated curse, gathered through the increasing guilt of the crowded past, may be diverted, transmuted, absorbed, transcended, but the thing that can never be is that it should be denied, abolished, prohibited, suspended. Man has deeply sinned, and, as deeply sinning, he must be subject to the inevitable law which God cannot repudiate without repudiating the reason, and the will, and the love with which He created him.

2. The death here spoken of is not the death of the body, for that is something which is inevitable. “It is appointed unto men once to die.” To the law of death there is no exception. Nothing can keep the earthly house of this tabernacle from breaking up. But there is something more terrible than the death of the body, and that is the death of the soul—the death of goodness, the death of hope, the death of noble aspiration, the death of all desire for a better life. Whittier says:

When faith is lost, when honour dies,

The man is dead.

Now the death of the soul, which the Bible calls the second death, is not inevitable like the death of the body. No man has control over the death of the body, but every man has control over the death of the soul. Sinners die because they will to die; not because God wills their death. Not that they deliberately choose death as an end, but they choose the way that leads to it. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Human nature is corrupt—too sorrowfully and deeply so. What you have first to perceive concerning it is exactly that—namely, that all the evil of it is its corruption, not itself! That our sin is our Death; not our Nature, but the destruction of our Nature. And that through and within all such horror of infected plague, the living soul, holy and strong, yet exists, strong enough with its Makers help to purge and burn itself free, to all practical need, from the body of that death, and rise up in its ancient noblesse, overflowing in strength and zealous of good works.1 [Note: Ruskin, Fors Clavigera (Appendix, No. 24).]

3. The death of the soul is not a necessity, for an antidote has been provided. Those who have within them the sentence of death may feel the quickening touch of Christ and begin to live. It was the mission of Christ to bring life to dying men. “I am come,” He says, “that they might have life.” And Paul, writing to the Christians at Ephesus of the power of Christ, says: “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” When a sick man has an efficacious remedy placed before him there is no reason why he should die. And yet his disease may run to a fatal end if he refuses to take the remedy provided. Sinful men die, not because they are sinners, but because they refuse the remedy which Heaven has provided for sin.

God in Christ does not forget even where a father might forget, or forsake even where a mother might be found forsaking. No, He will defer judgment, He will delay the crisis, He will set Himself to forestall the doom that must work itself out as the issue of sin. God willed that none should perish; He willed that all should be summed up in Christ, and that to be in Christ should have force to rescue, cleanse, renew, and glorify the entire body of mankind, and even if at last there will be found a residue of stubborn defiance in the human will which can hold out against the fullest effort even of Divine pardon, yet that will be only through wilful refusal to suffer the whole will of God to make itself felt. Still it will remain true that the intention, the purpose, the hope of God is that in Christ every soul should be brought to salvation. And if so, we must not sink the scale because the hope seems to us so distant and so broken, we must measure the Fathers actions according to the width and breadth of His perfect scheme.

Austere as we must be against sin, we will still remember that Christ died for sinners; that unless they hear Him they will die; and if, at some darker hour, our hearts sink as we wonder whether anything is achieved, whether it can be worth while to wait and trust, then let us remind ourselves that we have no gauge by which to measure the gains and the losses. We are not in a position to estimate Gods winnings, for we know not yet what we shall be hereafter, we know not what God may have in store; and, in view of that hereafter hidden from our eyes, He may well be gaining more than we think out of this dark, chaotic probation on earth. For God gains, let us remember, if only He can save a soul from the deliberate recoil from holiness which makes the case desperate; He gains, if only He can secure in a soul that its deepest wish, its last core of will, has yet something in it of belief in goodness, of appeal to God, some inner motion at its root which issues at last out of lifes trials into the other world with an upward and not a downward tendency. If only He can win that, then there are at least some possibilities hereafter, there is something secured which the discipline and purging of spiritual penitence can cherish and quicken, and the soul, it may be, may be saved “though as by fire,” though “with many stripes.”

Salvation must be as freely accepted by man as it is offered by God. We find men in this life so defiant of goodness and grace that we cannot assert that final impenitence is impossible. The grace of God in Christ now appears so sufficient, so urgent, so final that we cannot conceive what more God can do to save man. We may desire and hope that all shall be saved, but we cannot assert the salvation of all, and must recognize the possibility of a final impenitence. We must leave the issue of Gods world to Gods wisdom, holiness, and grace.1 [Note: A. E. Garvie, A Handbook of Christian Apologetics, 220.]

If there be a Divine purpose for mankind, its universality must either be something real or something nominal. If nominal only, then the universal offer of benefits that are not intended for all becomes a solemn farce, “inconsistent with the truthfulness and goodness of God,” an impossible creed which no honest man can proclaim to his fellow—men. Both Wesley and Erskine taught that the benefits of grace, as they ought to be fully and freely offered to mankind, are also intended for mankind, and to a certain extent are really and truly bestowed on mankind. “As through one trespass the justification came unto all men to condemnation, so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life.” Erskines interpretation of these words is, that as every man has been born into an order of sin, so every man is born into an order of grace; or, to put it otherwise, as Adam inflicted on the world a sentence of death, so Christ has brought a universal seed of life into the world which is available for all those who do not reject it.2 [Note: H. F. Henderson, Erskine of Linlathen, 57.]

Dr. William Taylor, of America, tells how, when he was a boy, he once heard a sermon on “appropriating faith.” His first question on getting home was, “Father, what is appropriating faith?”—a circumstance not very complimentary to the preacher. His father replied, “My boy, take your Bible and underline all the mes and mys and the mines, and you will soon find out what appropriating faith is.”

If the mes, mys, and mines were underscored in Charles and John Wesleys hymns, it would show better than anything else the intense personal force behind the Great Revival.

And out of the glow of Experience came Evangelism. With the early Methodist it was only one step from “me” to the “world.” With deep and reverent faith he would sing—

Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,

Which at the mercy seat of God,

For ever doth for sinners plead,

For me, even for my soul was shed.

But instantly the mind flings itself out to the uttermost limits of the human race. The gift received is a gift for all, and the missionary spirit of Methodism finds glorious expression in the very next stanza—

Lord, I believe were sinners more

Than sands upon the ocean shore,

Thou hast for all a ransom paid,

For all a full atonement made.1 [Note: W. B. Fitzgerald, The Roots of Methodism, 180.]

God and the Sinner

Literature

Bonar (H.), Family Sermons, 311, 319.

Campbell (J. M.), Bible Questions, 155.

Carroll (B. H.), Sermons and Life Sketch, 149.

Cooper (E.), Fifty-Two Family Sermons, 204.

Farindon (A.), Sermons, i. 497; ii. 1.

Finney (C. G.), The Way of Salvation, 254.

Gibbon (J. M.), Evangelical Heterodoxy, 61.

Gibson (E. C. S.), The Old Testament and its Messages, 194.

Kennedy (J.), in Modern Scottish Pulpit, i. 231.

Kirk (J.), Sermons, 185.

Kuegele (F.), Country Sermons, New Ser., i. 136.

Lewis (H. E.), By the River Chebar, 62.

Oosterzee (J. J. van), The Year of Salvation, ii. 487.

Spencer (I. S.), Sermons, ii. 285.

Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xxx. (1884), No. 1795.

Christian World Pulpit, xxxiii. 17 (H. S. Holland).

Homiletic Review, xvii. 341 (J. D. Freeman).

National Preacher, xiii. 17 (J. Fuller); xvi. 145 (E. Pond).

Plain Sermons by Contributors to “Tracts for the Times,” ii. 233.