Preached on Lord's Day Morning, October 16th, 1842, at Trinity Chapel, Alfred Street, Leicester
"At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel." Isaiah 17:7
We are very much, I think, in the dark as to the historical interpretation of the prophecies of the Old Testament. We are so little acquainted with the various circumstances of the different times and periods, that there must needs be many obscurities connected with the historical interpretation. But I know not whether we are very great losers on this account. There is another interpretation about which we are not so much in the dark, one which is far more suitable to our case as individuals, and, when made known by the Spirit, far more sweet and profitable; I mean the experimental vein that runs through these prophecies.
I shall not attempt, therefore, to explain this morning the historical meaning of this text, though no doubt it has one, but confine myself almost entirely to its spiritual interpretation.
"At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel."
We find mention made in the text of a certain "day." This expression occurs very frequently in Isaiah, and the other prophets of the Old Testament. For instance, in Isa. 26:1, we read, "In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city: salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." So again, 27:1, "In that day the Lord, with His sore and great and strong sword, shall punish leviathan, the piercing serpent," &c. The meaning of this "day," thus emphatically spoken of, we must gather generally from the context. Guided by this clue, we shall sometimes find it to point out a season of great trial, and sometimes one of great joy. It is not a literal day of twenty-four hours, but a certain season, which, whether of joy or trouble, takes place in the hearts of God's people. Which of these days it is generally pretty clear from the context, and therefore we will, with God's blessing, look back a little at the verses immediately preceding the text, in order to discover whether the day of trouble or the day of joy be intended in the passage before us. We will commence with verse 4 of this chapter. "And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean. And it shall be as when the harvest-man gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim. Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive-tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel. At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel." The day spoken of in the text is when "the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean." It cannot therefore be the same day of which we read, Isa. 12:1, where the Church, blessed with a sense of the pardon of her sins, says, "O Lord, I will praise Thee: though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me." But it points to a season of trouble, when the Church is brought down and laid low. The work, then, upon her soul which is carried on in this season is pointed out in the words, "The glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean."
What is this glory of Jacob? It is not the real glory of Jacob, which consisted in their peculiar relationship to God, which glory could not diminish nor fade; but it is anything in which the people of God (who are pointed out by the word "Jacob") may glory naturally--anything in which they may take an idolatrous pleasure, or boast of after the flesh. "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches." Thus some boast in riches, some in strength, some in learning, some in talents; all of us, more or less, have, or think we have, something in which to glory--to boast of--to take pride in. But in the case of the elect family of God, a day comes when this "glory is made thin."
1. The Lord here seems to have taken the figure of a person in a consumption or some such wasting disease, all whose strength and comeliness pine away and decline, and all whose flesh gradually falls away from his bones. "In that day," then, when God puts his hand upon him, when He touches his conscience with His finger, when He lays judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet, when He sets his secret sins before his face, when He gives him a display of His majesty and holiness, when He brings him to book, and holds a solemn court of judgment in his conscience--"in that day the glory of Jacob is made thin, and the fatness of his flesh waxes lean." If he could take pleasure in his property, when he is troubled about his soul, the glory of it waxes thin. If he could rejoice in his strong health and vigorous body, when the pangs of guilt lay hold of him, he can take no pleasure in them. If he could boast of his talents and ability, or of his acquired learning, when the Lord takes him in hand and brings conviction of sin into his soul, the glory of them all waxes thin. Or if pride in him runs in a different channel, and cradled in the religion of the day, he has amassed a heap of righteousness, it is with it in that day as the Lord describes (Haggai 1:9): "Ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it." Or if more subtilly deceived, he glories in the form of godliness without the power; if he is stiffened and buckramed up with a natural knowledge of the doctrines of grace, without a true experience of their savour, "in that day" the glory of all his long profession wastes away. If he prided himself upon his discernment in divine things, in the soundness of his judgment, strength of his memory, depth of his scriptural knowledge, or acuteness in detecting error, his glory in them becomes weakened and worn away. So that, let him look on every side, whatever he gloried in is become wan, whatever he has taken pleasure in wastes away from him, like a man's flesh off his bones in a consumption, and he is unable to gain either satisfaction or pleasure from that in which he once boasted.
2. But we read that not only shall "the glory of Jacob be made thin," but that "the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean." The Scriptures often use the figure of fatness to imply a state without any spiritual trouble. "Their eyes stand out with fatness." "Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked" (Deut. 32:15). "I will destroy the fat and the strong" (Ezek. 34:16). Fatness implies the absence of all disease--of all hard labour--of all anxiety and care; and the presence of all that the flesh lusteth after. Now when the Lord takes a man in hand, when He begins to work on his conscience, and brings eternal realities with weight and power into his soul, this "fatness waxes lean." As we read in Job 32:21, "His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen, stick out." The disease of sin, the labour to make his calling and election sure, and his anxiety lest he miscarry eternally, all conspire to wear his fatness away.
3. But the Holy Ghost employs another figure to throw a light on what takes place in "that day." "And it shall be as when the harvest-man gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim." This verse in its literal meaning seems to point out some desolation to take place which should reduce the number of the people. But viewed spiritually, it appears to refer to a desolation of the individual, for of an individual the text speaks--"In that day shall a man look to his Maker," &c. Under this figure, then, the soul is compared to a field out of which the corn had been reaped. There was once a flourishing crop; the ears stood thick upon the ground; but the harvest-man has been there, and reaped the ears with his arm. So spiritually, in this "valley of Rephaim" (which appears to have been famed for its luxuriant crops) there has grown up an abundant crop of fleshly religion, self-righteousness, and self-esteem; but "in that day," the harvest-man comes with his sickle and cuts down the crop.
4. And yet neither literally nor spiritually should the desolation be full or final. "Gleaning grapes" (that is, the grapes which the gleaner came in search of after the vintage was over, Deut. 24:21) "should be left in it;" a remnant according to the election of grace should remain; and yet so scanty in number that they should be "as the shaking of an olive-tree" (that is, after it had been shaken for its crop), "two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof." And so spiritually, amidst all this shaking of the soul there should be left some few good things towards the Lord God of Israel in the top of the uppermost boughs--the very last place where we should look for them; as, for instance, some reverence and godly fear, some tenderness of conscience, something of the Lord's own implantation in the soul, so that it is not utterly destitute, like the barren fig-tree, of which it was said, "Cut it down--why cumbereth it the ground?"
These things must be taken into consideration in order to enter into the spiritual meaning of the text. "At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel."
I. The fruit, then, and effect of this work upon the soul--of this consumption, of this reaping, of this shaking, is that "in that day," or season of deep necessity, "a man looks to his Maker."
1. The word "Maker" may here mean his Maker naturally--that divine Being who formed him in the womb, and gave him a natural existence. He never looked to the God who made him before; he had no spiritual knowledge of Him; the Lord had not made Himself experimentally known to him. But now, "in that day when the glory of Jacob is made thin, and the fatness of his flesh is waxed lean," when all the crop of natural religion is taken away by the harvest-man, he "looks to his Maker"--that is, he is brought to see and know that there is a God that has created him to live for ever, and given him a soul that can never die. Under this conviction he experiences such feelings as he never knew before; and he is thus made to see that He who has brought him into existence, and preserved him to the present moment, has been mocked and insulted by him during the greater part of his life, and that he has lived without God and without hope in the world. He is brought too to see something of the longsuffering of the Lord in not having cut him down and sent him to a richly-deserved hell.
2. But the words, "his Maker," seem to admit of a further signification. God is not only our Maker naturally, but so far as we are the supernatural work of His hand, He is our Maker spiritually. The new man of grace is therefore called "a creature," or "creation" (2 Cor. 5:17), and said to be "created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 4:24).
When, then, a man is passing through this work, when judgment is laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet, he "looks to his Maker" in a spiritual sense, as to "a faithful Creator" (1 Pe. 4:19). He feels if he is to be anything, to have anything, to know anything aright, God must work in him to will and to do of His own good pleasure. He is brought to see that all his religion from first to last must spring from God's grace in his soul. If he is to possess a grain of faith, it must be wrought in his heart by God. If there is a spark of living hope to keep him from despair, it must be communicated to his soul by the Divine hand. If he has any love for the Lord or for His people, it must be wrought in him. But until his glory was made thin, and the fatness of his flesh waxed lean, he never really looked to his Maker in that way. He took his religion for granted; held it upon trust; received it from the letter of the Word; esteemed himself a Christian and passed as such, without having ever been instructed by God Himself, without having had his religion wrought in the soul by a supernatural power; without having ever been convinced and pierced through and through by a sense of his guilt before God; without any deep-rooted conviction that he was utterly unable to produce one spiritual thought in his own soul. But when the glory of Jacob waxes thin; when he looks upon his limbs, and finds them emaciated--then he is brought from sheer destitution, from the real necessity of the case, from experimental feelings, not from mere doctrinal knowledge, to look upwards to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. And he is taught as a personal thing, an individual reality, to wait upon the Lord who hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and to look for Him (Isa. 8:17).
Now a man may go to the summit of doctrine and of the letter of experience in his judgment, and to the greatest self-denial and consistency in practice, and yet never have been brought thus to look to his Maker. He may have discernment to see who is right and who is wrong, and yet never once have been brought to spread himself out as a guilty sinner before the Lord, or fall down before Him as a ruined wretch. And why so easily and so fatally deceived, but because "the glory of Jacob has not been made thin, nor the fatness of his flesh waxed lean?" The harvest-man has not been and reaped the crop of his natural religion; the gleaner has not swept away the grapes; nor the rod of the olive-gatherer beaten down the olives (Deut. 24:20). But in that day when the Lord takes a man in hand, he will "look to his Maker," and not all the powers of hell, not all the workings of unbelief, not all the opposition of the world, not all the fears that his heart may be exercised with--none of these, though all conspire, no, not the flattery of false friends, nor the persecutions of open enemies, will be able to prevent this tried and tempted man from "looking to his Maker."
If we revert for a few moments to the figure which I spoke of as contained in the fourth verse of this chapter, it seems to throw a light on the way in which these internal exercises sometimes come on. We do not there read of a sudden work, as though there were no other way, but we find the figure of a consumption made use of, that begins slowly and imperceptibly, yet gradually wastes away the flesh, and terminates in death. So spiritually; these internal exercises creep upon some by degrees. Some conviction that they are not right; some secret arrow lodged in the conscience, though they can scarcely tell whence it came; some alarm and terror commencing perhaps almost imperceptibly yet making gradual progress, and slowly wasting all their strength, wisdom, and righteousness away, until it issues in a death to all legal hope. I believe there are many in this state who cannot clearly and precisely trace out how this work began in their souls, and yet when we look at the fruit and result, we cannot doubt the result of the work. We see them brought down into a state of helplessness and condemnation, cut off from all confidence in the flesh, and in sincerity and godly fear looking wholly and solely to their Maker.
II. But we read also that "in that day a man shall not only look to his Maker, but also that his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel."
The Lord Jesus is pointed out in the words, "the Holy One of Israel." It is His peculiar title, and as such is often connected with His other name of "Redeemer." "Thus saith the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" (Isa. 43:14), and with His title of "Saviour"--"I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour" (Isa. 43:3). Even devils acknowledged Him as "the Holy One of God" (Luke 4:34). He is "the Holy One of Israel" as God and man, being holy in underived Deity, and holy in sinless humanity; and He is "the Holy One of Israel" as God-man, the object of Israel's worship and love.
But the text shows that, till a man has experienced more or less of this wasting and consuming work in his soul, he never "has respect to the Holy One of Israel." Jesus is to him as a root out of dry ground; He has no form, nor comeliness, nor beauty that he should desire Him. Go where you will, you will find in this day many bright professors who talk much about Christ. His name is continually in their lips, but their heart is far from Him. They think they know Him, but they do not. They know Him doctrinally, after the flesh, in the letter, not in the manifestation of Himself to their souls. And depend upon it, a man neither will, nor can know anything experimentally of "the Holy One of Israel," until he is brought into circumstances of deep poverty and thorough destitution so as absolutely to need Him. "In that day" then, when the flesh is wasted from his bones, when he looks to his Maker, and sees little but wrath in prospect, and finds no strength nor help in self, "his eyes," under the Spirit's heavenly teaching, begin to have "respect to the Holy One of Israel." The Spirit of God, whose covenant office it is to take of the things of Jesus and show them to the soul, will often in that day shed a sweet, soft, and yet powerful light on the things spoken of Jesus in the Word. He bears testimony to His blood as cleansing from all sin; to His righteousness as a justifying obedience; to His suitability to all a sinner's wants; to His condescension towards the vilest and worst; to the dignity of His glorious Person, and to the efficacy of His finished work. These things, as the Spirit begins to make them known to the soul, and brings a savour and taste of them into the heart, are looked upon with new eyes, heard with new ears, and received with new feelings. The man begins now to look to the Holy One of Israel as he never looked before. When he was "rich and increased with goods," he lacked the spiritual "eye-salve," whereby alone he could see Him. But when guilt is brought home to his conscience in order that Christ's blood may cleanse him, when he is made naked that Christ's righteousness may be his justifying robe, when he is stripped of all creature strength that the Saviour's strength may be made perfect in his weakness, robbed of his wisdom that Christ may be "of God made to him wisdom," as well as "sanctification and redemption;" then the Spirit begins to cast a sweet light into his heart, and to shed a savour of Jesus' name into his soul. He anoints his eyes to see, He opens his ears to hear, and touches his heart to feel. And now "his eyes have respect to the Holy One of Israel." The expression means that his eyes shall look towards this Holy One, as a dependent on His bounty and favour, as we read Ps. 123:2, "Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God." And as this humble dependent looks toward and upon this holy and only Mediator, his faith brings in a sweetness such as he never felt before, hope springs up in the heart, the fears which disturbed him begin to give way, he receives strength to go forward, and in going forward he finds access to the presence of Jehovah. "In that day," then, the man who looks to his Maker, and whose eyes have respect to the Holy One of Israel, receives such a sense, such a taste, such a sight, such a knowledge of the Person, blood, work, grace, and righteousness of Jesus as he never had before the Lord took him in hand, and made "the fatness of his flesh wax lean."
In the very name, "the Holy One of Israel," there is something the sweetness of which melts his heart. For what is he in himself as a fallen child of Adam? A filthy, defiled, polluted wretch, unfit for the presence of God. And what can fit such an unclean, unworthy, deformed sinner for the eternal presence and enjoyment of the Triune Jehovah but such a Saviour as the Holy One of Israel, whose blood, as a holy fountain, cleanseth from all sin? The soul that stands in Him stands complete, without spot or blemish. And must not his heart leap and dance when with a measure of faith he is able to lay hold of this Holy One of Israel? Must it not needs bring relief to the wretch who feels himself nothing but a mass of filth and guilt in the eyes of a just God, to receive the Holy One of Israel with something of sweetness and power into his soul? It is the spiritual belief in, and inward reception of this Holy Mediator, that produces communion with all the three Persons in the Godhead. But this living faith in and spiritual reception of the only Mediator between God and man cannot exist until a man is brought into circumstances in which he needs the Holy One of Israel. Until he is emptied and stripped of all creature strength he cannot truly understand how, nor really desire that the strength of Christ may be made perfect in his weakness. So with Christ's wisdom, so with His righteousness, so with His blood, so with His love, so with His gracious presence--all are mere words, loose and floating ideas, dim, dreary conceptions, until poverty and need lie hard upon the soul, and the blessed Spirit makes known "the unsearchable riches of Christ," as so many experimental realities. It is this gracious discovery which endears to him the Holy One of Israel. And so I might trace it all through, and point out how in this man's experience there was no divine faith, no going out of hope, no flowing of affection toward the Holy One of Israel, till "that day," when he had no one else to look to, no hope in the creature; till all his righteousness failed him, and he felt that he must be saved by free grace, or eternally perish.
The verse immediately following the text is so closely connected with it, and so sweetly shows the fruits and effects of this work upon the soul, that I shall just drop a few remarks upon it before I draw to a conclusion. "And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves or the images."
1. We have here, as I have just hinted, some of the effects spoken of that follow a man's "having respect to the Holy One of Israel." "He shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands." "The altars" here spoken of point to a man's natural religion, which is the work of his hands, erected by creature wisdom and fleshly piety,--not God's workmanship, but manufactured by human industry. He was looking to these altars, the work of his own hands, on which he was daily offering sacrifice, or burning incense. God allowed the children of Israel but one "altar of burnt offering," which was anointed with the holy oil, and was "an altar most holy" (Exod. 40:10), and typical of Jesus, the only true altar (Heb. 13:10), and the only true sacrifice. All the heathen altars were to be utterly destroyed (Exod. 34:13). But fleshly religion is ever building altars, and "looking to them" as propitiating the favour of God, until that consuming and wasting work takes place of which I have spoken. "In that day a man has respect to the Holy One of Israel." Then he can no longer look to the altars, the works of his hands. He can no longer look to those offerings which once he could with pleasure and satisfaction bring before God. His righteousness is become filthy rags, and his prayers stink in his nostrils, his alms-deeds are polluted, and he can no longer thus have confidence in the flesh.
2. "Neither can he have respect to that which his fingers have made." With whatever skill his fingers may have moulded idols, built castles, hewed out cisterns, laid out earthly Edens, painted "pleasant pictures," this work upon his soul brings him from having any respect to them. His own fingers pollute all they touch and render them unclean, so that he can in that day no longer look on them with delight or pleasure.
3. "Nor can he look to the groves," those dark scenes of heathen pollution. "The groves," in ancient times, were the scenes of those pollutions which accompanied the worship of Baal, and of those bloody sacrifices in which parents offered their children to Moloch. God commanded the children of Israel to cut them down and burn them with fire (Deut. 7:5; 12:3). Thus spiritually, "the groves" seem to point to the dark haunts of indulged sin, which always accompany the idolatrous worship of self. Sin and self-righteousness are inseparable companions. But in that day when the altars of self-righteousness are overthrown, and "the eyes have respect to the Holy One of Israel," a man cannot look to these groves with delight, nor practise those secret deeds of iniquity in which he could willingly indulge while he had a name to live but was dead.
4. Neither can he look to "the images," for he must have God Himself. The natural representations of God, the self-imagined shape and form of godliness, the vain and delusive superstitions which the carnal mind bodies forth, the imitations of grace, faith, and godliness--all these "images" which thousands worship, "in that day" a man no more looks to. He can no longer be satisfied with the image; he must have the reality, and that experimentally felt in his own soul.
If this be a correct interpretation of the text and context, we see how it gives a man no reasonable ground to believe he knows anything savingly in his soul, who has not experienced this work upon his heart; who has not seen, more or less, all his creature religion cut down to the very stump; who has not felt all religion taken away except that which stands in the sovereign power and operation of God in the soul, an operation which leaves nature not a single thing of which it can boast; which takes away all creature hope, and does not even leave it a sherd to take water from the pit. Do not the words decisively show that until a man is brought to have "his glory made thin, and the fatness of his flesh to wax lean," he has never yet looked to his Maker, nor his eyes had respect to the Holy One of Israel, that he has never turned his back upon the altars of creature religion, nor cast his idols to the moles and to the bats?
The grand question to be settled is whether our religion tallies and coincides with this divine pattern. This cannot be always measured by the depth and clearness of the experience. A man may experimentally know what I have been attempting to describe, and yet his experience shall seem so confused, he shall be so little able to trace out to his own satisfaction how this work commenced and was carried on, with its present fruits and results; it may have been so much by fits and starts, and there may have been so much carnality and sin, pride and hypocrisy mingled with it all, that he shall be much puzzled to decide that he has really experienced it. And yet when we come to examine the fruits and effects of this experience which so puzzled and perplexed him, we shall see in him a sincerity, a humility, a breathing after communion with God, a crying out for salvation, a sight and sense of his own misery and wretchedness, and, accompanying these things, a faith in, and a hanging upon, the blood and righteousness of the Son of God, which we shall in vain look for among many who speak boldly and confidently of their standing and security. For after all, the point we must come to is this--what are the effects? If we say we are God's people, and profess to believe the doctrines of grace, our profession is idle and vain unless we have come unto the knowledge of truth in a right way; and if so, there will be certain marks of this heavenly teaching. Are these marks to be found in us? Has our glory been made thin? Has the fatness of our flesh waxed lean? Has judgment been carried on in the secret court of conscience? And has the effect been to make us look to our Maker, and cry to Him with sighs and tears, convinced that nothing but His almighty hand can deliver us from the lowest hell? And have we been brought "to have respect to the Holy One of Israel?" To feel there is in Jesus what we never saw before, and to discover in Him a beauty, glory, and preciousness which we never knew before? The way in which these things were made known may at times not seem to be very clear; but was there not a time when you began to feel that much, if not most, of your knowledge was mere head knowledge? your profession mere pretension before men? When thus stripped and wounded you began to seek the Lord as you never sought Him before; did not Jesus begin to show Himself to you as He never did before? Was there not a going out of hope, and a stream of spiritual affection toward Him? And what has been the effect of falling out of conceit with self, and falling in love with Him? Has it not been to forsake the altars you have made; to turn your back upon creature religion; to give up those things God hates; to have no respect to that which your fingers have made; to abandon the dark groves, and all the images you worshipped, that there may be allowedly none but the Lord Jesus?
Here, then, is the pattern to which our religion must be conformable, if we are to see God in glory. If a man cannot lay his religion down side by side with this, what evidence has he that God has been at work in his soul? Wherever the Spirit of God has been at work, there will be more or less conformity to the pattern which God has traced out in the Scriptures. If a man's religion is not conformed to this, he will find it will let him down one day to the lowest hell. The people of God cannot take their religion upon credit; they cannot be satisfied with the endorsement of this or that good man. They must have their religion wrought by God Himself. They are often exercised as to whence their religion came. Do you not find it so, and that your religion costs you many exercises? If, for instance, you are cast down, you are exercised whether it springs from godly sorrow for sin. If you are comforted, you cannot take the comfort for granted; you must have it weighed up in the gospel balance. If you meet with providential deliverances, you cannot take them as so many certain evidences that all is right with your soul. So that every step you take you have to examine, and weigh it whether it be of God. The dead professors, the hypocrites in Zion, never have their religion tried and weighed up in this way. They know nothing of these inward exercises. They take things for granted; they nestle under some good man's wing, or get their religion endorsed by some minister, and are satisfied. But the people of God must have testimonies from the Lord Himself; and they will often be sharply exercised whether they have that work in their souls which will stand in the trying hour. And if in answer to their cries the Lord is pleased to shine into their souls, and raise up clear tokens that it is, it fills their hearts with gratitude, sinks the things of time and sense, and lifts up their affections to that blessed fountain whence these testimonies came down. Thus those very things which seem against them are for them, and they derive their sweetest consolations out of their heaviest afflictions. Their trying path they would not change with all its bitter things for the smooth, flowery path in which they see thousands walk, knowing that a religion without trials and temptations will only lead the soul down into a never-ending hell. Thus at times they feel good can spring out of their exercises, and would rather be all their days a tempted, tried people, and bear those things which God inflicts, than walk in a path which seemeth right in the eyes of a man, and at the end find eternal destruction. They would rather have those chastisements which prove they are children and not bastards, than walk in a flesh-pleasing way of which the end is eternal damnation.