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governed by His Providence: but as to the obligation of loving Him with all our heart, and soul, and strength ; of putting our whole trust in Him; of presenting ourselves, in the way of spiritual obedience, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God :* this falls. not within their thoughts. Their opinions are in favour of some outward and indefinite obedience: but the world has their hearts.
Demand of them again, What they think of the LORD JESUS Christ? They will readily confess Him to be the Son of God; they will admit that He came into the world to save sinners; that He led a painful life; suffered the death of the cross; rose again from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high. But how, then, do they apply all this knowledge ? Do they look to Christ for the salvation of their own souls ? Are they desirous to come to Him as their Saviour, and do they apply to Him for the remission of their sins ? Are they anxious to receive Him under the character in which He is revealed, as the anointed of God, to instruct them, to purify them, and to rule in their hearts -as their Prophet, their Priest, and their King? as their Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption ? * It is in these respects that they fail. What is matter of opinion they will allow: what is practical and spiritual—the life of faith in the soul, the sprinkling of the heart from an evil conscience,t the imitation of Christ as their example-here they halt between two opinions; yet without this they cannot follow God; without this they cannot be Christ's disciples.
* Rom. xii. l.
Inquire yet again concerning their views of the Holy Ghost? They will admit that there is such a Person, and that He is the Spirit of God: they will allow that from Him all holy desires are derived, and that it is His office to sanctify the heart, and to communicate every spiritual blessing. But then they do not seek for that Spirit to cleanse and sanctify their own hearts: they see nothing of the beauty of holiness, and they have no right desire for the possession of it. Their notions are in a great measure correct; the evil lies in their dispositions and affections; their hearts are not right with God : they acknowledge generally the scriptural standard of doctrine and practice; but in every particular case they follow their own.
It is true that they may sometimes appear to be much in earnest: they are visited, perhaps,
* 1 Cor. i. 30.
+ Heb. x. 22.
by some affliction, or the apprehension of evil : they are reminded, by some domestic calamity, of the uncertainty of life, and they are softened under the chastisement of God: some signal Providence calls them to reflection : some awakening sermon terrifies their consciences : then, for a season, they appear determined, whatever others do, to serve the Lord: they search the Scriptures; are diligent in prayer; and devout in attendance upon the means of grace; but the impression is soon effaced; all their good purposes vanish, like the dew of the morning, and indecision of character becomes again predominant, both in their principles and in their conduct.
Instead of dwelling longer upon this point let me request you to pursue these reflections for yourselves. I would simply ask, before I pass on, whether some of you are not conscious of halting in this way, between two opinions ? You are willing to hear the truth; you partly approve of it; you do many things which it enjoins ; but one thing is needful ; and without an earnest desire for true religion in the heart, for the love, and faith, and obedience of the gospel, whatever be your professions, you do not follow God in the way which He has commanded; there is a want of decision in your
character, which exposes you to the full force of the appeal of Elijah.
II. Let us then consider the GROUNDS AND
CAUSES OF THIS INDECISION.
The source of all this evil is the deceitfulness of the human heart: among the subordinate causes which may be adduced, I shall notice merely the following: the love of the world, the fear of the world, and the fashion of the world.
(1.) The love of the world. The apostle St. John has left it upon record, that this disposition is totally inconsistent with the love 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 :* and so wide is the apostle's interpretation of the term world, that he includes in it every worldly object, which is suited to gain our affections and to occupy our time: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The subject is illustrated by the evangelists in the instance of a young man, who came to Christ and demanded, Good Master', what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? Our Lord repeated to him the substance of some of the commandments : the young man said to Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up : what lack I yet! He was speaking to one who knew the heart, and who detected under all this show of outward obedience a secret principle which was fatal to his pretensions. Jesus therefore said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. He seems to have been in some measure persuaded that Christ was the Messiah; but he did not follow Him: he seems to have concluded it to be the will of God that he should acknowledge his Son, but the love of the world was in his heart; and, although sorrowful, he went away. How carefully, my brethren, and especially would I say it to those young persons, before whom the world is now opening with all its prodigality of promises ;how carefully should we guard against the influence of a worldly spirit! You are not called to give up your property, and to walk, like these ancient disciples, after a despised Galilean: but unless you are willing to make every worldly sacrifice, which the spirit of the gospel
* 1 John ii. 15.