« PreviousContinue »
adds to the difficulty of your choice. I say this moment, because there is nothing so urgent: nothing that can equally claim, or reward your attention.
Should you be induced to neglect this great salvation, what will be your reflections in a dying hour, and before the bar of God? What will you think in endless misery of those follies and vanities for which you sacrificed eternal life?" What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
He who approved and applauded Mary's choice, is here present to witness yours. He sees you, he hears you-he is waiting to be gracious, and is exalted to have mercy upon you. You must sit at his feet as a disciple, or be made his footstool as an enemy What is the choice you intend to make? I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
GOD ABANDONS THE INCORRIGIBLE. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.-Hos. iv. 17.
NOTHING Seems so absurd as idolatry. How surprising is it that a man should make a figure
with his own hands, and then fall down and adore it! How wonderful it that a being endued with reason, should worship reptiles, and even vegetables! Nevertheless, this was the case for ages. "They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts, and creeping things they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever."
Let us rejoice that the darkness is past, and that the true light now shineth. It is our privilege to live in a land of vision; where we are informed of a Being who made all things by the word of his power; possesses unbounded excellencies; and deserves our supreme devotion. We know God; but alas! we do not glorify him as God. Why every unregenerate sinner is a little Pagan world in himself: he has his gods, his temples, his altars, his sacrifices. And as the Jews of old were more criminal in their idolatry than the heathens, because they were favoured with a revelation of the only living and true God
-so it is with those who call themselves Christians: their sin is increased by the means they possess of knowing and serving him.
What, would you prove Christians to be idolaters? Why not?-What is idolatry? Is it not the transferring to the creature, the homage due to the Creator? If, therefore, we love or fear any thing more than God; if we make it our portion, and depend upon it for happiness, we are chargeable with idolatry.
What do you think of the man who is more ambitious to obtain the applause of dying worms,
than the honour that cometh from God only?— He is an idolater.
What do you think of the man who devotes himself to the lower gratifications of sense, or the more refined dissipations of fashion, and loves pleasure more than God?-he is an idolater.
What do you think of the man whose thoughts and affections daily encircle the throne of mammon: whose earth-born soul cannot pass by a particle of shining dust without kneeling and praying; who to acquire it, rises, and grinds the faces of the poor, and transgresses the laws of God; whose highest aim, and whose only business is to amass his thousands?-Why, such a man, to use the words of Job, "Says to gold, Thou art my hope, and to fine gold, Thou art my. confidence. His wealth, (says Solomon,) is his strong city, and as a high wall in his own conceit. He trusts, (says the apostle,) in uncertain riches." The covetous man, therefore, is expressly called an idolater, and stands in this book excluded from the kingdom of God.
Nations who depend for their protection and prosperity upon navies, armies, commerce, and forget God; they are idolaters. And families are idolaters who suspend their subsistence and welfare upon one individual, and suppose that if he were removed, their eye could no more see good.
All this is trusting in man, and making flesh our arm; and in proportion as we do this, the heart departeth from the Lord. And this is the essence of man's apostacy: something besides God has his admiration and attachment, his hope and dependence-and whatever this be, whether an image or an angel, it is, in the language of scripture, an idol.
Men may pretend to regard God and to adore their idols too; but this is pronounced to be impossible."No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
They may not adore the same idols with others -for their dispositions and circumstances are various: and they may sometimes change their idols. But while any thing detains the heart from God, the man is in a state of perdition. And such is the infatuation of the sinner, that, though always deceived and often confounded, he still goes on; he holds fast deceit; and refuses to return-till God, rising in displeasure, resolves to abandon him-and cries-"He is joined to idols -let him alone."
There is something in this declaration uncommonly dreadful-And this will appear, first, if you distinguish this desertion from another which may befall even the subjects of divine grace; and of which God speaks when he says, "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence and seek my face: in their affliction, they will seek me early." Thus, God sometimes leaves his people, when they are becoming high-minded, to convince them of their dependence upon him. He leaves them to their own strength, to show them their weakness; and to
their own wisdom, to make them sensible of their ignorance. By their embarrassments, they are soon made to feel how unable they are to manage their own affairs, and after this no longer exercise themselves in great matters, or in things too high for them. Thus, to convince the child, who is regardless of your counsel, that it is not safe for him to go without your guiding and sustaining hand, you leave him where the danger is not great, or where you could seize him as he fallsthough you would not say, Let him alone, if you saw him climbing up a ladder, or crossing a deep river on a narrow plank.
Thus, God may leave his people-but this differs exceedingly from the abandoning of the incorrigible. The one is from love, the other is from wrath. The one is the trial of wisdom, varying its means; the other is the decision of justice, after means have been used in vain. The one is to reform, the other is to destroy. The one is partial; and always leaves something of God behind, which will urge us to seek after him: the other is total and final.
Consider, secondly, that this leaving of the sinner, is a withdrawing from him of every thing that has a tendency to do him good.-Let him alone. -Ministers! Let him alone. He has complained of your fidelity. He has called you the troublers of Israel. Disturb him no more.
Saints! Let him alone. Withdraw your intercourse, and drop your reproofs.
Thou all quickening word! Let him alone. Pise not up in his remembrance. Place before him no promises to invite, or threatenings to alarm.
Conscience, thou internal monitor! Let him