Obrazy na stronie

side we

ity, and shown that they all exist, with mournful prominence, in the character of irreligions men, the subject will now be closed with three brief reflections. 1. How great is the depravity of the human heart. On every

see immortal beings reasoning and acting like the merest idiots, disbelieving the clearest truths, heedless of their highest good, unappalled by the most awful and threatening evils. If, however, this conduct were the result of any derangement of their natural powers, sad and disastrous as it is, it would not be criminal. But the distemper which produces these effects, is seated, not in the intellect, but in the affections, and springs, not from necessity, but from choice. That this is true, is evident from the fact, that they manifest no want of sagacity in relation to objects with which their inclinations accord. It is with reference to religion alone that all their wisdom is seen to forsake them. Their imbecility upon this subject, therefore, emanates entirely from the voluntary sinfulness of their hearts. It is this which has darkened their understandings, distorted their perceptions, robbed them of their celestial birthright, and rendered them the abject slaves of unhallowed passions. It is this, in short, which has transformed a world, originally the scene of order and beauty, into a moral bedlam, dug deep the pit of hell, and peopled it with millions of undone immortals. Well, then, may inspiration declare, as it does, that “the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart."

2. The final condition of those who die impenitent, will be unutterably dreadful. So great, even in this world, is the power of sin, that it has converted the earth into an arena of violence, where hatred and revenge, oppression and cruelty make happiness an alien; where justice bleeds at every pore, and virtue weeps over her fallen altars. Yet here numerous causes couspire to soften its virulence, and obstruct its operation. The social affections, which still bloom in the waste of our degenerate nature, like lonely flowers upon a mouldering ruin-the force of public opinion—the intercourse and example of the pious--and, above all, the counteracting principles of the gospel--continually exert upon it a repressing and modifying influence. But in the abodes of endless punishment all these restraints will be remov. ed. There the corruption of ungodly men will have free scope; and their passions, which are now comparatively in their infancy, will start up into giant strength, and rage uncontrolled. How terrible, then, must be their state, when they shall be thus abandoned to the unbridled workings of their own depravity! Suppose a company of maniacs, separated from all communion with the sane and rational, contined together in a gloomy cell, and left to the raving impulses of deliriurn,—and you have but a feeble emblem of the bitter execrations, the wild uproar, the raging madness, which will fill the prison of despair, when the wicked, of all ages, and from all quarters of the world, shall be shut up in its bottomless dungeons; and when--shorn of every amiable

quality that adorned them here, exiled from hope, pursued by the furies of remorse, and tortured into phrensy by the view of the far off heaven which they have lost forever--they shall curse themselves and each other, and lift up their eyes, and blaspheme their Maker because of their plagues! From a spectacle so replete with horror, who of us must not turn shuddering away, and kervently implore Almighty God to prevent us, by his grace, from realizing it in our own experience ?

3. How unspeakably precious, viewed in the light of this subject, does the Saviour appear. He alone can heal the insanity of sin, and quench the incipient hell which it has kindled within us. And this he is not only able but willing to do for all who truly apply to him. It is his own declaration, “O, Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.” It is his own invi. tation, “ Look unto me, all ve ends of the earth, and be ye saved." It is his own promise, “ He that believeth in me shall never perish.” As he calmed, with a word, the fury of the demoniac among the tombs, and placed him at his feet, “ clothed, and in his right mind;" so he removes the moral madness of those who seek him by faith, washes them in his blood, and prepares them, by his Spirit, for heaven. To him, therefore, I would most earnestly invite you. Repair, without delay, to the fountain which he has opened, and bathe your distempered hearts in its waters. Hasten, this very hour, to the great Physician, lest, wbile you linger, the malady now preying upon your souls, reach that incurable malignity, which is the sure precurser of the second death. Will you, can you, feel secure in a situation so perilous ? Can you sit still, and hope that all will be well, and cry, “ Yet a little more sleep, a little more slumber," while the leprosy of sin is raging through all your faculties, and the angel of mercylong grieved and resisted-stands ready to take his returnless flight, and leave you to incorrigible impenitence? Shall God command and entreat you in vain ? Shall the Redeemer stoop from heaven, and die for your salvation and yet will you spurn his grace, and trample on his bleeding love?' 0, be persuaded to renounce, at once, this desperate and unnatural conduct. Seek the Lord while he may be found-call upon him while he is near. Listen to the voice of infinite compassion, cast yourselves, in penitent submission, at the feet of the omnipotent Saviour—and he will renew your polluted natures, forgive your aggravated offences, and deliver you from the utter ruin, in wlrich your present course must inevitably terminate.

Followers of the crucified Jesns ! Professed disciples of him who poured out his blood to cure the madness of rebellious men! Is it from such a doom as we have described that his grace has rescued you? What gratitude, then, to the Author of yonr redemption should you feel and exhibit! What intense devotedness—what holy spirituality-what estrangement from the world and its follies-should pervade and influence all your actions ! How should your views, your affections, your purposes, and your whole lives, prove, that you are illuinined by celestial light, and guided by heavenly wisdom. What deep and active solicitude, too, should you cherish for the conversion of the impeni. tent around you. The sight of a world “lving in wicked iess," and rushing to perdition, led the Son of God to exchange a throne for a cross, and drew tears from his eves, and blood from his heart. And if you have aucht of his Spirit, you will follow with your efforts and prayers the perishing inultitudes of your fellow men, till they either find refuge in Christ, or sink, beyond reach of hope, into an undone eternity.





TIIE MANNER OF WORSHIPPING GOD. KEEP thy foot when thon goest to the house of God. and be more ready to hear Chau to give the sacrifice of fools ; for they consider not that they do evil. Be pot rush with thy much, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few." --ECCLESIASTES v. 1, 2,

THE-E words concern the manner of worshipping God. I shall,

I. Mention some reasons whıy we should be exceedingly cautious and watchful over ourselves while engaged in the worship of God: and

II. Make some remarks relating to the manner of worship,

I. Reasons &c. When the Lord descended upon Sinai, and the whole mountain was filled with a cloud and thunderings and lightning, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud "the trump of God;” probably, that which shall waken the dead, and call the world to judgment; the people trembled and removed and stood afar off; and said to Moses, "Speak thou with us, but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

We come into the presence of the same God. We are not indeed come to the mount that burned with fire ; we are come unto mount Sion. But the Lord God is still a jealous God ; he hath not abated ought of his majesty or his holiness. “The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him.” Were the angels to come into the sanctuary, their eyes would behold the King; they would veil their faces and cry, “ Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.” The Lord is here; hating irreverence and presumption as much as when he commanded Moses to go down to charge the people not to come near the mount, or break through to touch it, lest they die. Christ hath opened for us a new and living way within the veil, to the very mercy seat; but we should remember that it is the holy of holies still. The lord is still a holy and jealous God. He seeketh such to worship him as worship in spirit and truth. He

[ocr errors]

searches the heart; he trieth the reins, "The Lord is a great God, and a King above all gods.", " The Lord your God, is God of gods, and Lord of lords ; a great God, a mighty and terrible, which regardeth not persons nor taketh reward.”. “The great, the mighty God, the Lord of Host is his name.” An earthly king will be served in state. Shall we come to worship, and to petition the living God in matters for which he is angry; for which he has sentenced the world to death ; for which he will cause the very earth which has been defiled by our wickedness, to be burned up; shall we, worms of the dust, and ready to perish under bis frown, comeinto his presence, and come thoughtless and irreverent, as though we believed the Lord po God, or as though we were approaching a dumb idol? Shall we come rudely before him, with vapid and empty words ; indulge in slovenly attitudes, and remain in a slovenly frame of mind ; wbile engaged in a work which would fill the bighest angels with awe ? " Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with tremb- . ling.” “God is greatly to be feared, in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh unto me," saith the Lord. How dangerous it was to Uzza to put forth an irreverent hand to the ark, otherwise than God had commanded. Remember how Nadab and Abibu, the sons of Aaron, offered strange fire be. fore the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them; and they died before the Lord." The day of such miraculous interpositions is past; but these are left on record to teach the world forever, hów solemn and reverent it becomes those to be, who appear before the Lord. It should be remembered, too, that we are not holy beings, who come, like the angels, to render liomage to their Creator, who takes pleasure in them. Even they veil their faces when they come into his presence. But we are sinners, altogether unclean. It does not becoine us to be bold, and to offer the sacrifice of fools. It does not become us to be rash with our mouth, or to let our heart be hasty to utter any thing before God. We have another errand before his throne than that of the angels. We are to be reconciled to an oflended God, and to be cleansed from our iniquities, or we are soon to perish froin the way; then how solemn should we be, when we come into the presence of the Lord! Think not, when

you come into the sanctuary with scarcely a thought of God; think not, while you take an apparent part in the worship of God, but with no design of worshipping in spirit and in truth ; think not, while your thoughts are on your business, or meditating sin, or roving with the fool's eyes to the end of the earth, that the Lord is as indifferent and as thoughtless of your conduct as yourself. He searches your heart. He is proving you. Not the least part of your probation is going on; you think little of it; but not so the Lord. He regards that insensibility to truth and duty; he takes notice of that irreverence toward God; that want of fear; that want of faith. He marks the insult. He marks the awful profaning of things sacred. You tread upon holy ground; you stand in an awful place. If you felt it aright, you would say with Jacob, “Behold, God is in this place, and I knew it not. How awful is this place ; this is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Whether you feel it or not, the Lord regards it. Scarcely can you have a more solemn account to render concerning any part of your life, than that which you must render concerning the manner in which you have attended on the worship of God.

II. Particular remarks concerning the manner of Worship.

1st. We should make our attendance upon the house of God a matter of principle. It would be a good thing to worship God, and to give thanks; and praise would be comely, were it not required. But God requires solemn and public worship of all men. He is jealous for his honor. He will be reverenced: he will be obeyed : and more than this he will be worshipped. Doubtless public worship is necessary for maintaining a suitable regard for God among men, and necessary also, for keeping alive among men upon the earth, a knowledge of the great truths of reli gion; and for impressing these truths upon their conciences and their hearts. It is beneficence in the great Creator, not less than jealousy for his own honour, that has required of all men solemn worship, and that they set apart one day in each seven as sacredly devoted to that worship of God, and to the care of their souls. People greatly err, when they think it is left at their option, whether to go up to the house of God and join in public worship or not. Many seem to consider it a matter left entirely to their caprice, where to attend ; how often to attend ; or whether they attend on public worship at all. It is true, that man may not dictate to their consciences in this matter ; but God has required solemn and stated worship; and while God allows not one man to meddle with the conscience of another, he will vindicate his own right to be Lord of the conscience ; and he will hold every man to answer concerning the matter of attendance upon public worship, at his bar of final judgment. It is not, therefore, a matter left to any man's caprice, whether he attend public worship at all. He sins if he neglects it; he wrongs his God ; he wrongs his own soul. The eye of God is upon him as he contemns the sanctuary of the Lord. It is not left to his caprice, how often he attends ; his attendance must be regular, or he sins and wrongs his God and his own soul. The providence of God that disenables him, excuses his attendance ;

but he has no right to disenable himself by previously exhausting his body or his mind. He is not at liberty to give way to an inconvenience, which would not hinder him from attending to his ordinary important business. If he indulges his slothfulness or his caprice, he sins. He contemns the authority of God, and contemns his institutions and his worship; besides fostering his own depravity, cutting himself off from the divine blessing, and

« PoprzedniaDalej »