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Would any man that walks upon this earth, and is in the slightest degree capable of reasoning and reflection, commit interests like these to an uncertain issue?
(2.) Something, perhaps, might be said in vindication of indifference and indecision, if these things were only obscurely revealed: but the fact is, that as we are more interested in the knowledge of salvation, than of all other things, so is the will of God most distinctly made known in respect to it. There is much to be learnt concerning the Supreme Being from the works of nature and the ways of Providence : but our great appeal is to the revelation of light and truth by the Lord Jesus Christ. God deals with us as with reasonable creatures ;
he has given us a revelation, which it has pleased Him to recommend to us by evidences the most convincing and conclusive. Men may easily be found who pay no attention to these evidences. Such is the depravity of the heart that some persons will not come to the light, and therefore do not see the clearest demonstration on religious subjects; but this is no argument against the evidence itself: it may prove that they are blind, but it proves nothing
No reasonable man who has candidly examined the question, can doubt the inspiration of the Scriptures; if he pretend, therefore, to hesitate whether he will follow the God who revealed them by believing in that Saviour whom they announce, and pursuing that holiness which they enjoin, he stands plainly and completely without excuse.
But of this class, I presume that among us very few are to be found. We all believe that religion is of supreme importance, and that the Scriptures are the revelation of God. I would ask then, thirdly, what can be more absurd and unreasonable, than to allow this in principle, yet in practice to deny it?
If we admit the Lord to be God, the necessary consequence should be, that we act upon the persuasion. Many of you are probably conscious of the inconsistency which exists between your creed and your practice; although you endeavour to conceal it as much as possible, even from yourselves. But we press these subjects upon you that they may be fairly brought under consideration; and that you may be led to feel concerning them, as reason and the Scripture would require you to feel. What
should we think of a person, who deliberately tells us that he is responsible to Almighty God for every act of his life, and yet expresses his determination to live as if there were no God? who professes to believe that he must hereafter appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and yet avers that he will live as if there were no day of retribution; no second death to be suffered; no life beyond the grave? Yet what is all this but the practical language of every one among us, who on the great subject of religion is balting between two opinions ?
Permit me in conclusion, to press more distinctly upon you the QUESTION and ADMONITION of the text.
I. THE QUESTION. How long halt ye between two opinions ? How long ? Till you shall have clearer evidence of the truth of revelation and the value of religion? Have you some reason then to be dissatisfied with the kind of evidence adduced ? or is the importance of true religion so doubtful in itself, that you cannot decide upon it? Some, perhaps, are waiting till they shall find a better opportunity; till the troubles of life shall have ceased to harass them, and they shall have obtained leisure for serious
reflection. But is it usual then for cares and troubles to diminish as we increase in years? Every successive period of existence, from youth to old age, has its own disquietudes; and what was in early life only doubt, and indecision, and delay, too frequently terminates in hardness of heart.
And will a wise man defer till to-morrow, in relation to such matters the duty of to-day? Alas! alas ! how delusive are the promises of future years! To convince us of the uncertainty of all earthly enjoyments, and earthly prospects, we have no need to recur to ages which are past: the events which fall under our own observation, proclaim with a voice not to be misunderstood, the vanity of all expectations, which are founded upon the morrow. They warn us as with the sound of a trumpet, Prepare to meet thy God.* This opportunity is your own, another you may not possess : and even if life should be prolonged, what advantage can you reap by the delay? Who shall secure to you hereafter the possibility of repentance? Who can promise that the mercy which has been deliberately slighted, shall not eventually be withheld ? that God will not at length, according to his own awful declaration, laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh ?*
* Amos iv. 12.
II. THE ADMONITION. If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. Think not to unite the pleasures of sin with the hope of the gospel; to be at the same time the servants of righteousness and of iniquity: if it be right that you should take this world for your portion, be at ease in the pursuit of it: let no apprehensions of futurity, no alarms of conscience, check you in your course. But if the Lord be God, let it be your determination to serve him; not with a mixed, and doubtful, and partial obedience, but with the undivided purpose of the heart; honouring him in the means of grace, obeying him in the gospel of his Son, seeking earnestly for the blessings of his Spirit, repentance unto life, the remission of sins, the purifying of the mind, the quickening and effectual power of that grace, which God alone can bestow, and which through faith in Christ Jesus, he is willing to impart to every one who sincerely and diligently seeks it. Do not err, my beloved brethren; do not deceive yourselves by the persuasion that you follow
* Prov. i. 26.