on Micah 7 :5
Trust ye not in a friend - These times will be so evil, and the people so wicked, that all bonds will be dissolved; and even the most intimate will betray each other, when they can hope to serve themselves by it.
On this passage, in the year 1798, I find I have written as follows: -
"Trust ye not in a friend. - Several of those whom I have delighted to call by that name have deceived me.
"Put ye not confidence in a guide. - Had I followed some of these I should have gone to perdition.
"Keep the door of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. - My wife alone never deceived me."
It is now twenty-seven years since, and I find no cause to alter what I then wrote.
on Micah 7 :5
Trust ye not in a friend - It is part of the perplexity of crooked ways, that all relationships are put out of joint. Selfishness rends each from the other, and disjoints the whole frame of society. Passions and sin break every band of friendship, kindred, gratitude, nature. "Everyone 'seeketh his own'." Times of trial and of outward harass increase this; so that God's visitations are seasons of the most frightful recklessness as to everything but sell: So had God foretold Deuteronomy 28:53; so it was in the siege of Samaria 2 Kings 6:28, and in that of Jerusalem both by the Chaldeans Lamentations 4:3-16 and by the Romans . When the soul has lost the love of God, all other is but sceming love, since "natural affection" is from Him, and it too dies out, as God gives the soul over to itself Romans 1:28. The words describe partly the inward corruption, partly the outward causes which shall call it forth.
There is no real trust in any, where all are eorrupt. The outward straitness and perplexity, in which they shall be, makes that to crumble and fall to pieces, which was inwardly decayed and severed before. The words deepen, as they go on. First, "the friend", or neighbor, the common band of man and man; then "the guide", (or, as the word also means, one "familiar", united by intimacy, to whom, by continual intercourse, the soul was "used";) then the wife who lay in the bosom, nearest to the secrets of the heart; then those to whom all reverence is due, "father" and "mother". Our Lord said that this should be fulfilled in the hatred of His Gospel. He begins His warning as to it, with a caution like that of the prophet; "Be ye wise as serpents" Matthew 10:16-17, and "beware of men". Then He says, how these words should still be true Matthew 10:21, Matthew 10:35-36. There never were wanting pleas of earthly interest against the truth.
He Himself was "cut off" lest "the Romans should take away their place and nation" John 11:48. The Apostles were accused, that they meant to "bring this Man's Blood upon" the chief priests Acts 5:28; or as "ringleaders of the sect of the Nazarenes, pestilant fallows and movers of sedition, turning the world upside down, setters up of another king; troublers of the city; comanding things unlawful for Romans to practice; setters forth of strange gods; turning away much people" Acts 24:5; Acts 16:20-21; Acts 17:6-7, Acts 17:18; 1 Peter 2:12; endangering not men's craft only, but the honor of their gods; "evil doers". Truth is against the world's ways, so the world is against it. Holy zeal hates sin, so sinners hate it. It troubles them, so they count it, "one which troubleth Israel" 1 Kings 18:17. Tertullian, in a public defense of Christians in the second century, writes, , "Truth set out with being herself hated; as soon as she appeared, she is an enemy. As many as are strangers to it, so many are its foes; and the Jews indeed appropriately from their rivalry, the soldiers from their violence, even they of our own household from nature. Each flay are we beset, each day betrayed; in our very meetings and assemblies are we mostly surprised."
There was no lack of pleas. : "A Christian thou deemest a man guilty of every crime, an encmy of the goals, of the Emperors, of law, of morals, of all nature;" "factious," "authors of all public calamities through the anger of the pagan gods," "impious," "atheists," "disloyal," "public enemies." The Jews, in the largest sense of the word "they of their own household", were ever the deadliest enemies of Christians, the inventors of calumnies, the authors of persecutions. "What other race," says , Tertullian, "is the seed-plot of our calumnies?"
Then the Acts of the Martyrs tell, how Christians were betrayed by near kinsfolk for private interest, or for revenge, because they would not join in things unlawful. Jerome: "So many are the instances in daily life, (of the daughter rising against the mother) that we should rather mourn that they are so many, than seek them out." - "I seek no examples, (of those of a man's own househould being his foes) they are too many, that we should have any need of witness." Dionysius: "Yet ought we not, on account of these and like words of Holy Scripture, to be mistrustful or suspicious, or always to presume the worst, but to be cautious and prudent. For Holy Scripture speaketh with reference to times, causes, persons, places." So John saith, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God" 1 John 4:1.
on Micah 7 :5