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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 11 - Acts 4:25 - The World's Treason Against its King Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


This quotation by the apostle gives us the inspired key to the second Psalm. That which Herod and Pilate, with the Jewish multitude and Gentile soldiery, did at Jerusalem against Christ, was the beginning of that great fulfillment of the second Psalm which has in different ways been going on ever since, and will go on until the Lord come the second time to destroy his enemies. They "hated" Him, and raged against Him, and slew Him, saying, "This is the heir, come let us kill Him." But He rose again; and by His resurrection was declared to be the only begotten of the Father.

David here seems to be looking round him on Jerusalem and the whole earth. He hears tumultuous sounds, "Crucify Him," begun at Golgotha, and prolonged through all lands and ages. It is the raging of Jew and Gentile against Messiah: "We will not have this man to reign over us." They "set themselves" (king and people), and "take counsel together against Jehovah and His Messiah," trying to burst their bonds, and castaway their cords. The whole history of earth for these eighteen centuries has been the history of its hatred of Jesus, and its rage against the Father. This feeling has been modified, disguised, subdued at different times, but never quenched. It is shewing itself in the infidelity of our day, and will yet shew itself more extensively and awfully. Modern laxity, or "liberalism," or "indifference," or "free thinking" is another phase of it. Hatred of the Christ of God is the root and source of modern lawlessness and scepticism.

The prophet asks, "Why do," or "why have the heathen raged, and the people (Israel) imagined a vain thing?" Let us study his question. It will lead us beneath the surface of modern society, modern thought, modern progress, modern politics.

The fact. The world, Jew and Gentile, does rage, and has been raging. We have Christ's own testimony to this, "They hated me;" "His citizens hated Him." More or less this hatred has spoken out. It speaks out in all unbelief, for all unbelief is hatred of the Son of God. It spoke out in the early persecutions, in the later ones under Popery. It spoke out at the French revolution, and is gathering strength to speak out again. It speaks out in man's hatred of the cross, and the blood, and the gospel. It speaks out in our ungodly literature. It speaks out in our worldliness. It speaks out in the elevation of the church, or the priest, or the intellect, or the "verifying faculty" into the place of the Son of God. Its words are smooth as butter, yet are they drawn swords. It uses the holiest words for its own purposes, so as to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. One of the great characteristics of the whole interval between Christ's first and second coming is the world's rage, secret and open, against the Father and the Son.

II. The impotence of their rage. It is very useless anger. It accomplishes nothing. It is like an angry child striking a huge rock with its fist. It is the mere display of impotent hatred, or the temporary gratification of their dislike of God, and their rejection of His purpose regarding His Son. For, mark,

(1.) It won't alter the purpose of God. That purpose shall stand. It is from eternity to eternity. It specially centers on Messiah and His kingdom. The "decree" is "declared,"—thou art my Son! I have set thee on Zion as King. Earth is thine inheritance.

(2.) It won't make Him afraid. "Are we stronger than He," asks the apostle. "Hast thou an arm like God," asked Job. No! all the rage of earth, the power of its nations, the resistance of man's will and intellect, will not make God afraid. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh."

(3.) It won't shake the eternal throne. That throne is forever. It stands in heaven like the steadfast stars, which clouds blot out for a day, but cannot dim. It stands on earth like the ocean-rock on which the waves dash themselves to pieces.

(4.) It won't change truth into error or error into truth. It tries to do this. But in vain. It wages war against truth, it holds fellowship with error and falsehood, but it effects nothing. It calls light darkness, and darkness light; good evil, and evil good; but the light and the darkness, the good and evil, still remain as they were. All the enlightenment of the age, all the appliances of modern progress, are impotent against God and His Christ, against His truth, and His church, and His word.

III. The reason of their rage. The root of this we find thus stated, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman." This is God's key to the antagonism between the world and the church. They rage,

(1.) Because they hate God Himself. This we have already noticed. Man's natural heart is enmity to God.

(2.) They hate His government. They hate His law, His authority, His whole rule. They hate His Sabbath and His sanctuary. They refuse to be controlled. They claim liberty and independence for themselves. "Who is Lord over us." "We are lords, we will come no more unto thee." Socialism, self-dependence, self-will are the indications of their hatred.

(3.) They hate His Son. The Christ of God is the object of their special hatred, as He Himself tells us, "They have hated me." They hate Him as the Son of God; as God's prophet; God's priest; God's king. They hate His person, His work, His cross, His gospel, His claims on their allegiance and love.

(4.) They hate His Bible. A God-written book is offensive to them. It trammels them. It humbles their intellect. It leaves no scope for speculation. It regulates and circumscribes thought. It is authoritative. An uninspired or half inspired book they would listen to; a "man-inspired," a "genius-inspired" book they would admire; but a book whose words are the very words of God they cannot away with.

IV. God's reasons for allowing this. Why not arrest the blasphemy? Why suffer all this dishonour, and opposition, and sin?

(1.) To shew what the evil of sin is. One, of God's great lessons to men and angels is sin's evil, "the exceeding sinfulness of sin."

(2.) To shew the abysses of' the human heart. What a breadth and length, what a depth and height of evil does it contain! What a hell is the heart of man!

(3.) To shew His power and grace. Great as is the evil, it is not too powerful for Him. He can say, "Thus far, and no farther." And then He can shew that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. There is salvation to the uttermost; pardon for the chief of sinners; restoration and cleansing for such an earth as ours.

V. God's time for interposing; The close of the Psalm shews that He will interfere at length. He is not slack concerning His promises and threats. And the time for interposition is the coming of His own Son. That is the day of wrath and vengeance. Then His tolerance of evil will be done. Man in his ideas of "toleration" seems to think that God will be as tolerant of sin as he is; that He will not take vengeance; that He will not be so intolerant as to cast any creature into hell! But the day will declare it. Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment! Oh, kiss the Son! The long-suffering of our God is salvation!