Show us thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us thy salvation. Amen.
Isaiah 29, 10-14. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
When a man resists the Spirit of God, and will not repent, although he hears the word of God, and knows its power; he comes to feel more secure, is more obdurate, sleeps more soundly, and walks more blindly, than do the heathen. I once heard a clergyman say that he had for a time been weighed down by contrition on account of his sins; but that he now regarded this as a species of madness, or as a nervous disease, of which he had been cured! “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.” God sends chastisements, shakes the sinner out of his sleep, and puts the words of repentance into his soul. “Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.” (Job 33, 29. 30). But as man will not repent God pours out upon him the spirit of deep sleep, and closes his eyes, that he can not see those things which are most clear, and can not be rid of his scales by any word of God however full of force; but goes in the happiness of insanity or in the gloom of despair with Saul and Judas to eternal perdition.
As it is with the individual, so it is with the peoples. There is a sort of mutuality of responsibility between members of the same people, as is the case between children and parents. We know that the Lord will rescue the upright out of the destruction of a corrupt people; but we here speak of people in their collective capacity as a nation. When the Lord repeatedly visits a people with a spiritual awakening, and the people each time sink down again into callousness, into a soulless worship of God, into worldliness and unbelief, God will at last abandon them to the hardness of their hearts, take from them the little which remains of their spiritual understanding, and turn their wisdom into foolishness. “They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.” The candlestick is moved away entirely. Heretofore the intercessions of the poor and despised Christians had supported the whole structure; but this is now a thing of the past, and the carcass lies ready for the ravens. As yet our people have not reached this stage, and God grant that they never may! But the spirit of the antichrist is extremely busy among us; and many shut their eyes to the light of truth.
Lord, teach us to know the time of our visitation, and to understand the things which belong unto our peace. Have mercy on us and on our people. Make thy face to shine upon us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Jesus, merciful Redeemer,
Rouse dead souls to hear thy voice;
Wake, oh, wake each idle dreamer
Now to make the eternal choice!
Mark we whither we are wending;
Ponder how we soon must go
To inherit bliss unending,
Or eternity of woe.