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this treacherous habit, and to keep defective, and compromising. It is us firm and immovable in the sim- not an avowed rejection of God, plicity of the Gospel of Christ.
for the sake of mammon, but a I. As to the nature of this inde- coalition between them; a wish to cision in religion.
serve God and mammon at the The expression in the text, same time; a professed acknow“ How long halt ye between two ledgment of God, and yet a pracopinions ?” is strictly a figurative tice inconsistent with that acknowmode of speaking. The idea, in ledgment. the original, is taken from birds If you inquire into their creed, upon a tree moving quickly from you will probably find them, in branch to branch, and never re- general, correct : they are, to a maining settled or at rest. The certain extent, very right in their persons, therefore, whom the pro- opinions, and fail chiefly in not folphet had in view, and to whom we lowing out those opinions in their may fairly apply his language, are practical conclusions. They benot those who insult the majesty lieve, for instance, that there is a of God by a deliberate rejection of God of infinite holiness, majesty, the truth, or who designedly pour and power ; that the world was contempt upon His name: these created by His word, and is gomen are sufficiently decided in their verned by His providence; but as opinions : they have made their to the obligation of loving Him choice. The address of Elijah is with all our heart, and soul, and applicable to those who, with some strength ; of putting our whole knowledge, possess no stedfastness; trust in him ; of presenting ourwho, with some desire to be right, selves, in the way of spiritual obeare easily turned out of the way; dience, a living sacrifice, boly and who with some sense of the ex- acceptable unto God : this falls not cellency of true religion, are un- within their thoughts. Their opihappily drawn aside from the pur.. nions are in favour of some outward suit of it; at one time like the ido- and indefinite obedience: but the laters in the wilderness, when they world has their hearts. exclaimed, on sight of the golden Demand of them, again, what calf, “ These be thy gods, O Israel, they think of the Lord Jesus Christ: which have brought thee up out of they will readily confess him to be the land of Egypt :” at another, like the Son of God: they will admit the Israelites, mentioned in this that he came into the world to save chapter, when they cried, “The sinners; that he led a painful life ; Lord, He is the God!”
suffered the death of the cross ; We shall probably not err very
rose again from the dead, and widely in our estimate, if we re- ascended to the right land of the present such persons, in these days, Majesty on high. But how, then, as generally well-meaning, and, in do they apply all this knowledge ? a worldly view, very respectable Do they look to Christ for the salmen. They offend not, in any no
vation of their own souls? Are torious degree, either against the they desirous to come to Him as precepts of God, or the laws of their Saviour; and do they apply to civilized society. The question with Him for the remission of their sins? them is not so much between dif- Are they anxious to receive Him ferent objects of worship, as be- under the character in which He is tween true religion, and the mere revealed, as the anointed of God, profession of it; between conscience to instruct them, to purify them, and indolence ; between a holy and and to rule in their hearts-as their spiritual obedience, on the one Prophet, their Priest, and their hand, and, on the other hand, that King ? as their “wisdom, righteouskind of submission which is partial, ness, sanctification, and redemp
tion?” It is in these respects that Instead of dwelling longer upon they fail. What is matter of opi- this point, let me request you to nion they will allow : what is prac- pursue these reflections for yourtical and spiritual—the life of faith selves. I would simply ask, before in the soul, the sprinkling of the I pass on, whether some of you heart from an evil conscience, the are not conscious of halting in this imitation of Christ as their example way between two opinions ? - here they halt between two opi- are willing to hear the truth ; you nions ; yet without this they cannot partly approve of it; you do many follow God; without this they can- things which it enjoins : but one not be Christ's disciples.
thing is needful; and without an Inquire yet again concerning their earnest desire for true religion in views of the Holy Ghost ? They the heart, for the love, and faith, will admit that there is such a and obedience of the Gospel, whatperson, and that He is the Spirit ever be your professions, you do not of God: they will allow that from follow God in the way which He Him all holy desires are derived, has commanded; there is a want of and that it is His office to sanctify decision in your character, which the heart, and 10 communicate exposes you to the full force of the every spiritual blessing. But then appeal of Elijah. they do not seek for that Spirit to 11. Let us then consider the grounds cleanse and sanctify their own and causes of this indecision. hearts: they see nothing of the The source of all this evil is the beauty of holiness, and they have deceitfulness of the human heart : no right desire for the possession of among the subordinate causes which it. Their notions are in a great may be adduced, I shall notice measure correct; the evil lies in merely the following: The love of their dispositions and affections; the world, the fear of the world, their hearts are not right with God: and the fashion of the world. they acknowledge generally the 1. The love of the world. The scriptural standard of doctrine and Apostle St. John has left it upon practice; but in every particular record, that this disposition is tocase they follow their own.
tally inconsistent with the love of It is true that they may some God. “Love not the world, neither times appear to be much in earnest: the things that are in the world: if they are visited, perhaps, by some any man love the world, the love affiction, or the apprehension of of the Father is not in him :" and so evil: they are reminded, by some wide is the Apostle's interpretation domestic calamity, of the uncer- of the term world, that he includes tainty of life, and they are softened in it every worldly object, which is under the chastisement of God: suited to gain our affections and some signal Providence calls them to occupy our time : the lust of the to reflection : some awakening ser- flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the mon terrifies their consciences : pride of life. The subject is illusthen, for a season, they appear de- frated by the evangelists in the intermined, whatever others do, to stance of a young man, who came serve the Lord : they search the to Christ and demanded, “Good Scriptures; are diligent in prayer : Master, what good thing shall I do and devout in attendance upon the that I may have eternal life?" Our means of grace; but the impression Lord repeated to him the substance is soon effaced; all th
good pur- of some of the commandments: the poses vanish, like the dew of the young man said to Him, “All these morning, and indecision of cha- things have I kept from my youth racter becomes again predominant, up: what lack Í yet !”
He was both in their principles and in their speaking to one who knew the conduct.
heart, and who detected, under all this show of outward obedience, a “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of gecret principle which was fatal to Christ; for it is the power of God his pretensions. Jesus therefore unto salvation to every one that said unto him, “ If thou wilt be per. believeth.” But this is a lesson not fect, go sell that thou hast, and give easily to be acquired ; and many to the poor, and thou shalt nave who are in a degree persuaded of treasure in heaven ; and come and the value of eternal things, and of follow me. But when the young the necessity of a humble and holy man heard that saying, he went conversation, and of a heart reaway sorrowful, for he had great newed by the operation of God's possessions." He seems to have blessed Spirit, are still so much been in some measure persuaded under the influence of the world's that Christ was the Messiah ; but opinion, and are so much afraid of he did not follow Him: he seems to coming out and being separated have concluded it to be the will of from multitudes around them, that God that he should acknowledge they shrink at the very thought of his Son, but the love of the world singularity: they would wish to was in his heart; and, although follow God, but it is their desire sorrowful, he went away.
How also to obey men: they hope to carefully, and especially would I accomplish both objects; and the say it to those young persons ben consequence is that they fall short fore whom the world is now open- of true religion: they fear men, ing with all its prodigality of pro- when they ought to fear God only. mises,-how carefully should we 3. The fashion of the world, guard against the influence of a Under this term, I include the exworldly spirit! You are not called ample and authority of those with to give up your property, and to whom we are conversant; or to walk, like these ancient disciples, whom it is customary to appeal. after a despised Galilean : but un. With respect to example, we can less you are willing to make every hardly persuade ourselves that so worldly sacrifice, which the spirit many persons, on every side of us, of the Gospel demands, you cherish can be ignorant of the real nature a principle which is destructive of of religion. “Surely,” we are ready true religion : “Know ye not," saith to say, “it is not to be supposed, St. James, “ that the friendship of as the strict letter of Divine revethe world is enmity with God ? " lation would seem to imply, that in
2. The fear of the world. No- a Christian country such multitudes thing is more certain, than that the should be halting between two opidispositions and habits of the great nions. Is it likely that the gate of majority of mankind, even in a heaven should be so strait, and the Christian country, are totally and way so narrow, as to allow only a radically opposed to the precepts small number to enter and walk in of the Gospel; and the world loves it?” And then comes the arguits own : and if any are not of the ment of authority,--an argument world, it beholds them with aver- as old as Christianity itself. The sion. It is true, that in this age, doctrine of the primitive teachthose that will live godly in Christers was in substance, “ Believe in Jesus do not, as in the primitive the Lord Jesus Christ :” the reply times, suffer the violence of perse- was, “ Have any of the rulers, or of cution; yet a real Christian must, the Pharisees believed on Him ? " In doubless, be a man of courage. He conformity with the example of our will be exposed to the obloquy of Lord and his Apostles, the minissome persons, and to the ridicule ters of the Gospel in this day insist of others : and he must be pre- upon the importance of spiritual pared, under any emergency, to religion, and from the express deadopt the language of the Apostle ; ctarations of the holy Scriptures expound and illustrate the doctrine any reasonable man be careless and which is according to godliness : but indifferent about it? would he not how often are they met, as in be very .diligent to become acold times, by an appeal to some quainted with his duty, and very human authority! Let us not be anxious to discharge it? “A son supposed to undervalue such au- honoureth his father," saith Jehovah thority: give to it all the attention by the prophet, “and a servant his which it deserves; but suffer it not master: if then I be a father, where on any account to lower the tone, is mine honour ? and if I be a or to explain away the clear state- master, where is my fear ?" But the ments, of the word of God. “ If the vast importance of the subject is to Lord be God, follow Him : ” if the be seen in the condition of a future Scriptures be a Divine revelation, world. If the soul were doomed to believe them. Many are to be perish with the body, it might be found, who,' under the sanction of comparatively of little moment what some favoured name, are speaking doctrines we believe, and what rule peace to their consciences, while a of conduct we follow : the favour prophet like Elijah would thunder even of God, should it terminate in their ears, “ How long halt ye with this state of existence, might between two opinions ?"
be a matter of inferior consideThese and many similar causes, ration; but how stands the case by drawing the attention from the when we look at futurity; when trụths of the Gospel, or effacing the we know that there shall be a re; impression already produced upon surrection from the dead, both of the mind, lead naturally to that in- the just and of the unjust ; that a decision which was visible in the separation will then take place beIsraelites, and which is so common tween “ him that served God, and in our own day. But although they him that served him not?” That serve to explain how it arises, they whilst the righteous—those who reby no means excuse it. We pro- pented of their sins and were justiceed then to shew,
fied by faith in the Redeemer and III. The unreasonableness of this were sanctified by his Spirit-will principle.
go into life everlasting; the men 1. It is unreasonable, on account who knew not God, nor obeyed him of the great importance of the sub- in the Gospel of bis Son, will be ject.
cast into everlasting fire? Is this In matters of inferior moment a subject to be trifled with ? Would we may be allowed to retain con- any man that is in the slightest desiderable doubt and hesitation, with gree capable of reasoning and reflecout much prejudice to ourselves or tion, commit interests like these to to others : and in some points it an uncertain issue ? is our wisdom to hesitate. But in 2. Something, perhaps, might be this instance, it is folly in the ex- said in vindication of indifference treme. For if the Scriptures be and indecision, if these things were true, if the Christian religion be not only obscurely revealed; but the altogether delusive, the question is fact is, that as we are more inbeyond all human calculation or terested in the knowledge of salvaconception momentous. Take the tion, than of all other things, so is simplest view of Divine truth which the will of God most distinctly can be given, it yet involves the made known in respect to it. There relation between Almighty God and is much to be learnt concerning his accountable creatures. Now, the Supreme Being from the works whatever were the revelation which of nature and the ways of Provi. might be made to us from Heaven, dence: but our great appeal is to and whatever the service required the revelation of light and truth by of us toward our Creator, would the Lord Jesus Christ. God deals
1827.] Family Sermons.—No. CCXXII. On 1 Kings XVIII, 61.
the evidence itself: it may 1. The question: “ How long halt prove that they are blind, but it ye between two opinions ?”
How proves nothing more. No reason- long? Till you shall have clearer able man who has candidly exa- evidence of the truth of revelation mined the question, can doubt the and the value of religion ? Have inspiration of the Scriptures : if he you some reason then to be dispretend, therefore, to hesitate whe- satisfied with the kind of evidence ther he will follow the God who adduced? or is the importance of revealed them by believing in that true religion so doubtful in itself, Saviour whom they announce, and that you cannot decide upon it? pursuing that holiness which they Some, perhaps, are waiting till they enjoin, he stands plainly and com- shall find a better opportunity; till pletely without excuse.
the troubles of life shall have ceased But of this class, I presume that' to harass them, and they shall have among us very few are to be found. obtained leisure for serious reflecWe all believe that religion is of tion.
But is it usual then for çares supreme importance, and that the and troubles to diminish as we inScriptures are the revelation of crease in years ? Every successive God. I would ask then, thirdly, period of existence, from youth to what can be more absurd and un- old age, has its own disquietudes ; reasonable, than to allow this in and what was in early life only principle, yet in practice to deny it? doubt, and indecision, and delay,
If we admit the Lord to be God, too frequently terminates in hardthe necessary consequence should ness of heart. be, that we act upon the persuasion. And will a wise man defer till toMany of you are probably con- morrow, in relation to such matscious of the inconsistency which ters, the duty of to-day? Alas! exists between your creed and your alas ! how delusive are the propractice; although you endeavour mises of future years ! To convince to conceal it as much as possible, us of the uncertainty of all earthly even from yourselves. But we press enjoyments, and earthly prospects, these subjects upon you that they we have no need to recur to ages may be fairly brought under con- which are past : the events which sideration; and that you may be fall under our own observation, proled to feel concerning them, as claim with a voice not to be misunreason and the Scripture would derstood, the vanity of all expectarequire you to feel. What should tions which are founded upon the we think of a person, who delibe- morrow. They warn rately tells us that he is responsible the sound of a strumpet, Prepare to Almighty God for every act of to meet thy God. This opportunity his life, and yet expresses his de- is your own; another you may not termination to live as if there were possess; and even if life should be no God? who professes to believe prolonged, what advantage can you that he must hereafter appear be- reap by the delay ? Who shall