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once your promise, your vow, if you were

DISCOURSE XCVII.
snat:hed from the jaws of death your-
selves -

RELIGIOUS INDECISION.
« Then will I tell to sinners round
What a dear Saviour I have found;

Ephraim is a cake not turned.-Hosea vii. 8.
I'll point to his atoning blood,
And say, Behold the way to God!"

BAKED on one side only-neither soft nor

hard-neither bread nor dough-disagreeable Pray that this way may be known on earth; 1 —unserviceable. “A very homely comparithis saving health among all nations. Send, son, a very vulgar image," you say. But the where you cannot go yourselves—aid the Bi- sacred penmen are above our fastidiousness ble Society, in diffusing the Scriptures; and They write for the common people; and what Missionary Societies, in sending forth mis- are little delicate allusions, discerned and resionaries.' Employ your personal influence. lished only by a refinement of taste, while Make use of your talents; make use of your they are lost upon the majority of readers! tongue. Let your temper, your conduct, They want something plain, and yet forcible; your life, your character, speak.

something to rouse the conscience, and to Indeed, it will be in vain for you to ap- lodge in the mind. And “ the words of the plaud a remedy that has done you no good. wise," says Solomon, "are as goads, and as When you recommend it, with all the symp- nails;" goads to wound, and nails to fasten. toms and effects of your disorder upon you, If the image be vulgar, it is striking; and if they will naturally say, “ You have an end the comparison be homely, it is much too fiatto answer, regardless of our welfare. You tering for the persons it is intended to express do not believe in the virtue of the medicine, Let us divide our subject into three parts. or you would have used it yourself.” If, I. WE SHALL INQUIRE AFTER THE CENSURED therefore, you are vain, and proud, and re- CHARACTERS. II. WE SHALL EXPOSE THEIR vengeful, and selfish, and covetous; if your CONDUCT AND THEIR CONDITION. III. We family is the scene of discord and strife ; if SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO BRING THEM TO A DEC1your shop is famed for cunning, overreaching, sion; or, as our text would authorize us to and injustice; if, under the profession of say—see if we cannot turn these cakes. Christianity, you have not the honesty of a I. WHO ARE EPHRAJMITES? In answering heathen-you had much better say nothing: this question, as the preacher ought to profor people will immediately judge of your re- ceed with great caution, so you ought to hear ligion by you—And will your conduct impress with peculiar seriousness; and may the God it? Will this endear it?

of the spirits of all flesh empower an inward But, blessed be God, allowing for human monitor to say, as we proceed, " Thou art the infirmities, and imperfections, inseparable man." from the present life; blessed be God, there There are three classes of persons, as far are some who are emphatically the better for as our subject requires us to distinguish them. the Gospel : they are spiritually convalescent; There are real Christians, who are entirely they are other creatures than they once for God. There are the profligate, who make were : they are renewed in the spirit of their no pretensions to religion. And there are minds; they live soberly, righteously, and some who stand between both, and seem to godly in the present world; and they walk partake of each; and these are the characters worthy of the vocation wherewith they are we are in search of. called; they are followers of him who went Few are totally regardless of Divine things about doing good. They are also increasing ; Some, indeed, wear no disguise, and encumand though, as yet, they are few, compared ber themselves with no forms. They never with the world that lieth in wickedness, call upon God's name—unless to profane it; there are enough to show the reality and never observe the sabbath, or hear the word power of the Saviour's grace, and to leave preached; they explicitly avow their ungodlithose without excuse who will not come to ness, always in actions, and often in words: him, that they might have life.

and, “I am for hell," is written in capitals on But oh! what, what will it be when all, their forehead. But these are not the mass: “out of every kindred, and nation, and peo there are not many who can shake off all reple, and tongue"-all that he has ever saved, ligious concern. Their education, their relashall be assembled together, as the trophies tions, reason, conscience, reputation, even of his cross—while he, engaging every eye, their worldly interest-all these induce them and enrapturing every heart, shall hear from to pay some attention to religion. But the the countless throng; “Unto him that loved lamentation is, that they are only formal, exus, and washed us from our sins in his own ternal, partial—at best, but half-hearted, in blood, and hath made us kings and priests their regards. “ Ephraim is a cake not unto God, and his Father; be glory and do- turned.” minion for ever and ever!!"

Who then are the characters intended? If

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we look into the Scripture, we shall find some of the profane? free from gross vices, and yet of them represented by the successors of Is- indulging in graceless tempers ? wearing “a rael. When the king of Assyria had carried form of godliness, but denying the power away the ten tribes from Judea, he "brought thereof? having a name to live, and yet men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from dead ?" Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, Some of these characters are to be met and placed them in the cities of Samaria in- with in connexion with the more evangelical stead of the children of Israel: and they pos- modes of religion. Such persons will attend sessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities there only on the preaching of the Gospel. They of. And so it was at the beginning of their are orthodox in their views. With their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: mouth, they show much love. Their feelings therefore the Lord sent lions among them, are sometimes powerfully excited. They rewhich slew some of them. Wherefore they ceive the word with joy. They have another spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The na- heart; but not a new one. tions which thou hast removed, and placed in We have read of a bishop, formerly in Spain, the cities of Samaria, know not the manner whose clergy had long been carrying on a of the God of the land: therefore he liath sent controversy, concerning the condition of So. lions among them, and, behold, they slay lomon: some pleading for his salvation, and them, because they know not the manner of others for his perdition. To accommodate the God of the land. Then the king of As- both parties, the good bishop ordered a represyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one sentation of him to be drawn on the walls of of the priests whom he brought from thence; his chapel, half in hell, and half in heaven. and let them go and dwell there, and let him And what better could a moral painter do teach them the manner of the God of the with numbers in our day? We know not land." And so they did; and, with a mon- whether to set them down as children of grel devotion, they served both Jehovah and wrath, or heirs of glory. Their inconsistentheir idols; the one from affection, and the cies are such, that each side seems to disown other for fear of the lions : “ They feared the them; and they continue to agitate both the Lord, and served their own gods, after the hopes and fears of those who have any regard manner of the nations whom they carried for their eternal welfare. But our fears must away from thence.” We shall find some of prevail: and we proceed, them in a Balaam-unable to go beyond the II. TO EXPOSE THEIR CONDUCT, AND THEIR word of the Lord; and yet loving the wages CONDITION. And this may be done, by observof unrighteousness; delighting in what he ing Four things. declined; sacrificing his conscience to his First. This indecision is unreasonable. fame; blessing Israel, and showing how to What is there that will not convince you of curse them; praying, “ Let me die the death the truth of this remark !-Think of God. Is of the righteous, and let my last end be like he such a friend, such a father, such a master, his,” and perishing in battle against them. such a sovereign, as to deserve only a languid We shall find some of them in a young man, devotion, a divided heart? “Cursed be the so promising, so wise, so humble, as to inquire deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and after eternal life, kneeling; and so amiable, voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a coras to engage the affection of the Saviour; but rupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the who went away sorrowful, because he could Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among not resign an earthly possession at the com- the heathen.”—Look at the Saviour of sinmand of Him, who would more than have re- ners. How did he engage in the work of paid the sacrifice. We shall find some of your deliverance? Did indifference bring him them in a Herod, who “heard John gladly, from heaven to earth; and induce him, who and feared him, and did many things,” but was rich, for your sake to become poor; and retained his Herodias, and murdered his ad- die, that you might live? He loved us, and mired preacher, for the sake of an unlawful gave himself for us: and one feeling only can: passion. We shall find some of them in an correspond with his infinite kindness, a feeling Agrippa, who, pressed by the eloquence and of universal consecration: truth of the Apostle's reasoning, exclaimed,

“ Were the whole realm of nature mine,
"Almost thou persuadest me to be a Chris- That were a present far too small;
tian."

Love so amazing, so divine,
And cannot we find, nearer home, indivi-

Demands my soul, my life, my all !" duals, alternately in the temple and the Look at the hell you have to escape ; the tavern? now in the house of prayer, and now glory you have to obtain; the brevity and in the place of dissipation ? repairing to the uncertainty of the time allowed you for sucone from conviction, and to the other from in- cess. Does a state of slumber become the clination ? refusing to the passions what may awfulness of your situation and prospects ? trouble the conscience, and to conscience what “ Escape for thy life : look not behind thee; may trouble the passions? equally remote neither stay thou in all the plain; escape from the ardours of the pious, and the excesses to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”

“ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it opposite ? What but distraction, confusion, with thy might; for there is no work, nor and drudgery, and strife must ensue? These device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the half Christians, owing to the light they have grave, whither thou goest.” Look at religion. in the understanding, and the checks of cooIs there any medium between the truth, and science, cannot enjoy the vanities of the importance of the subject? If you do not world and the pleasures of sin : while relibelieve this Book to be true, you are an in- gion, as regarded by them, is no source of fidel; if you do, and disregard its contents, joy; they do not enter into the spirit of it, you are worse. Can lukewarmness ever and, therefore, cannot relish its satisfactions. perform the duties of religion? Is prayer The real believer enjoys the light of God's only the bending of the knee? Is praise countenance, the comforts of the Holy Ghost, only “a solemn sound upon a thoughtless and has meat to eat which others know not tongue ?" Can lukewarmness ever conquer of; and the professed votary of sin and the the difficulties of religion ? Will this enable world enjoys the delights which arise from you to run the race that is set before you, or time and sense: but the character before to fight the good fight of faith ?—Look at us enjoys neither. Ile gives up the creature your fellow-creatures. They rise up early, for God, and God for the creature. He lases and sit up late, and compass sea and land, to heaven for the sake of earth, and earth for gain a little shining dust, or the smile of the the sake of heaven; and is of all men the great; and yet, what a disparity is there be- most miserable. tween your zeal and their zeal, their sacri- Fourthly. Such indecision is dangerous. fices and your sacrifices ?-Look at the use- I wish to be understood to mean-peculiarly lessness of all your half measures. Have dangerous. Observe, in the first place: you suffered so much in vain, if it be yet in such characters are not easily converted. vain? Are ye so foolish, having begun in For though they have not religion enough to the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the ensure their safety, they have sufficient to flesh? If the course in which you have make them insensible of their danger. Though been engaged is not worthy of your regard, they have not enough to keep them awake, why did you go so far? if it be, why not they have sufficient to lull them to sleep. go further? If resolved to perish, could you Conscience has nothing very criminal, in not have perished without resisting any sin; their view, to reproach them with. Their without performing any duty ?

exemption from immorality gives them conSecondly. This indecision is dishonoura- fidence and peace. Their attention to the ble. Such a man is never regarded. In exterior of piety, and the decency of their vain you say,

Why, he is the very man general demeanour, attract from men the the people of the world approve”-and sup- praise which is due to real godliness; and this pose he was-Are they to be our judges? flatters and confirms the good opinion they He that judges us is the Lord. But you are entertain of themselves. Their satisfaction mistaken. The people of the world may like with themselves is also strengthened by co

consuch a temporizer so far as by resemblance trasts with the character and conduct of he justifies them; but as to real veneration others, who are outwardly and openly wicked. and respect for him, they have none—nor Their very convictions, too, in time are can they have any. No; such a man is altered; their practice has bribed their judgnever regarded. He is no character. He ment; and what formerly appeared wrong is has neither the value, nor solidity of gold: now deemed a vain scruple, the effect of lead is his image-worthless, and easily re-education, or a contracted mind. Secondly: ceptive of any impression. • Unstable as they are not very likely to continue always water, thou shalt not excel.” Uprightness in this state. Duties never relished, in time and consistency are always admired. The disgust. Prayer never performed in earnest, possessor after a while lives down reproach, may be wholly given up. Doctrines never and enthrones himself in the judgment and known in their vital influence, may be disesteem of his fellow-creatures. “ Well,” carded as speculations. Errors more consay they, “ he is sincere and honest; he is genial with their present feelings, and neces. all of a piece.” But base is the man who sary to justify the course they take, may be changes with the times; varies with his situa- adopted. God may withdraw his restraining tions; conforms to the company he is in; is and assisting grace, and leave them to their always worldly with the worldly, and sancti- own lusts. The principles of sin, being unfied with the saints—Who likes “ a cake mortified, may gather strength by having been not turned ?"

so long repressed, and may break forth with Thirdly. Such indecision is wretched. Can greater violence. And when such persons any thing be more miserable than to have as these fall, they generally become despisers, two businesses to carry on at the same time; revilers, persecutors.

6. When the unclean two parties to consult in every action and in spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh every look; two masters to serve who hate through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth each other, and whose designs are perfectly none. Then he saith, I will return into my

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house from whence 1 came out; and when Which then of these states will you take? he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and What is

your answer? garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with Shall it be the language of the convinced, himself seven other spirits more wicked than penitent, returning Israelites, spoken of by himself, and they enter in and dwell there: the prophet; “Behold, we come unto thee; and the last state of that man is worse than for thou art the Lord our God. Truly in vain the first. Even so shall it be also unto this is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from wicked generation. For it is impossible for the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord those who were once enlightened, and have our God is the salvation of Israel." O that tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made this were indeed your reply! To whom can partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted you go but unto him: he has the words of the good word of God, and the powers of the eternal life. He is able, he is willing—to world to come, if they shall fall away, to pardon, to renew, to satisfy, to delight-to renew them again unto repentance; seeing bless you “with all spiritual blessings in heathey crucify to themselves the Son of God venly places in Christ.” afresh, and put him to an open shame." Or will you say, with the rebels among Thirdly : however this may be-though they the Jews, who, when admonished, “Withhover between truth and error, holiness and hold thy foot from being unshod, and thy sin, the world and the church, heaven and throat from thirst,” said, “There is no hope: hell, through life-this will not be the case no: for I have loved strangers, and after them in death. They will then be developed, and will I go.” Ah! think again. Listen not to have their portion with the vile and the pro- the dictates of despair-There is hope in fligate ; with swearers, drunkards, thieves, Israel concerning this thing”- -“Come and and murderers; with the devil and his angels. let us reason together, saith the Lærd; though

Ah! says the Saviour to the Laodiceans, your sins were as scarlet, they shall be white " I know thy works, that thou art neither as snow; though they were red like crimson, cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or they shall be as wool.” The bridge is not yet hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, drawn. The door is not yet shut. Think and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee again. Will you turn your back upon such out of my mouth." And yet, oh! how he an opening of deliverance? Can you mean waits to be gracious, and is exalted to what you say? Are you resolved to follow have mercy! Yet, even these characters, your idols, and to forsake the God of love? hateful as their state is, and sure, if continu- How shocking, how dreadful-to bid farewell ed in, to bring upon them the utmost destruc- to God! tion, he does not treat with neglect-but Or will you take a middle course, and, counsels them" Because thou sayest, I am neither actually complying or refusing, say rich, and increased with goods, and have need to the man who importunes you, with Felix'; of nothing; and knowest not that thou art "Go thy way for this time, when I have a wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, convenient season I will call for thee.” But and naked : I counsel thee to buy of me gold we cannot admit of this reply; it is evasion. tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; Our commission requires an immediate deand white raiment, that thou mayest be termination : “ To-day, if ye will hear his clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness voice, harden not your hearts." And does do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with not your safety require the same? Boast not eye-salve, that thou mayest see." I cannot, thyself of tomorrow; thou knowest not therefore, conclude without endeavouring, what a day may bring forth. Now is the ac

III. TO BRING YOU TO A DECISION. I there- cepted time; now is the day of salvation." fore address you in the language of Joshua, How long have some of you hesitated already! “Choose you this day whom you will serve:" How wonderful is it that God has borne with or in the words of Elijah, “ How long halt you to this day, when he might justly have ye between two opinions ? if the Lord be God, considered your excuses and delays, ten, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” twenty, forty years ago, as a rejection; and The reason of the address, if you believe the have sworn" in his wrath, that you should Scripture, is obvious : for “no man can serve not enter into his rest.” Surely, after this two masters : for either he will hate the one, fresh proposal, God may resolve, consistently and love the other; or else he will hold to with all the riches of his goodness, to address the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot you no more; to order away all the means serve God and mammon.' “ Ye adulterers and influences that can benefit your souls, and adulteresses, know ye not that the friend- and to say, “He is joined to idols, let him ship of the world is enmity with God? alone.” It is certain that the longer you whosoever therefore will be a friend of the waver, the more difficult you will find it to world is the enemy of God. Love not the decide; for the world tyrannizes the more it world, neither the things that are in the is obeyed; and the heart is hardened through world. If any man love the world, the love the deceitfulness of sin. And what is it to of the Father is not in him."

determine that you cannot decide at once ? Is there any comparison between the respect- sent: and says he, “ The hand of the Lord ive claimants ? Between hell and heaven? was there upon me.” This expression always Between the bondage of corruption and the marks an impulse of inspiration. What kind service of God? Between the way of trans- of impression it was that moved them in these gressors, which is hard, and Wisdom's ways, cases we cannot determine; but they knew which are all pleasantness and peace ? " What it to be divine. And we observe here that fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye no place can exclude God from approaching are now ashamed? for the end of those things his servants, or holding intercourse with is death.

now, being made from sin, them. and become servants to God, ye have your But he is a sovereign; and may manifest fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting himself when, and how, and where he pleases. life.”

Yet his sovereignty is never to be confounded But the grand prevention is the world— with arbitrariness—He has reasons for his To give up the world !—But you must give conduct; and though all places are alike to it up soon—and who is most likely to resign him, they are not the same with regard to it with ease and pleasure; the man who idol- us. To receive, therefore, the intended comizes it, or he that is weaned from it!—To munication, he is ordered to wilhdraw. - And give up the world ! But how are you required he said unto me, Arise, and go forth into the to give it up? Not as to your station in it, plain, and I will there talk with thee." your business, or your duty; but only as to If we consider Ezekiel as a prophet, tbe what is evil and injurious to yourselves. Giv- order applies peculiarly to ministers: and ing up the world is not giving up happiness. says to them—“ Appear, but live not in pubDid it ever make you happy ? Has it not left lic. Be not too companionable. Retire your heart cold and void; and, even in its much for study and devotion. It is there you best estate, led you to ask, “Who will show will obtain an unction from the Holy One, us any good ?" And who enjoys the world and know all things.”. Look ye out, said the most in its lawful pursuits and innocent in- Apostles to the churches, deacons to manage dulgences ? The man who is reconciled unto your temporal affairs : but " we will give ourGod by the death of his Son, and renewed in selves unto prayer, and the ministry of the the spirit of his mind. To him the sun shines word.” And to Timothy, Paul said, “ Medifairer, and the rose is more fragrant than tate upon these things; give thyself wholly before. “OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY; to them; that thy profiting may appear to BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW." all."

But the address will apply to Christians at

large: and we may derive from it this obserDISCOURSE XCVIJI. vation--RETIREMENT IS FRIENDLY TO CON

MUNION WItu God. Let us consider,

I. THE DUTY—And II. THE PRIVILEGE RETIREMENT. And he said unto me, Arise, go forth in the “_ Call me away from flesh and sense ; plain, and I will there talk with thee.-Ezek.

One sovereign word can draw me thence :

I would obey the voice Divine, iii. 22.

And all interior joys resign. The pleasures and advantages of solitude

Be earth, with all her scenes, withdrawn; have been often admired and recommended. Let noise and vanity be goneAll love the world; yet all complain of it: and In secret silence of the mind, whatever schemes of happiness are devised,

My heaven, and there my God I find." the scene is always laid in a withdrawment I. THE DUTY enjoined" And he said unto from it. “It is there,” says the victim of me, Arise, and go forth into the plain.” It perfidy and malice, “it is there the wicked may be necessary to premise two things. cease from troubling, and there the weary First: The place is indifferent. It matters are at rest." It is there the warrior feeds his not whether it be a private room, or the open courage, and arranges the materials of vic- field. The thing required is to be alone. tory. It is there the statesman forms and And, Secondly, It is not a state of absolute weighs his plans of policy. There the philo- retirement that God enjoins. Man was made sopher pursues his theories and experiments. for society, as well as solitude: and so is the There the man of genius feels the power of Christian. A great part of our religion rethought and the glow of fancy, and roves in gards our fellow-creatures, and cannot be dis a world of his own creation. * Through de charged but by intermixture with them: and sire a man, having separated himself, seeketh what our Saviour thought of resigning busiand intermeddleth with all wisdom." ness, abandoning our connexions, and hiding

I have to consider solitude in reference to ourselves in woods and cells, appears obvithe Christian: it has a very interesting con- ously, from the language which he addressed nexion with religion.

to his own disciples; “Ye are the light of Ezekiel was now by the river Chebar, with the world. A city that is set on a hill canthe captives of Israel, to whom he had been not be hid. Neither do men light a candle,

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