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but first he took offence at some good man, and then he took offence at more good men, and then he took offence at the ways of God themselves. And you know it is said of the disciples, They were offended and went back: and of the false ground, By and by he is offended; he doth not say, By and by they fall away. Why? Because usually falling away and departing begins at being offended. Therefore would
you not depart from the living God, then take heed you take no offence at the good ways of God, or the people of God.
Take heed of walking alone; for you see what follows in the text, saith he, " Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily.” So that the only way to be kept from departing from the living God, is to be exhorting one another. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another.” In evil days exhort one another daily, in declining times take heed of walking alone.
Take heed of remissness in duty: remissness in duty will cause omission of duty, omission of duty will cause commission of evil, and commission of evil will cause a departing from God. I used to say, The slumber of grace is a preparation to sin ; and those that slumber in times of enjoyments, they will fall in suffering times, it is likely. You know how it was with the disciples that slumbered and slept at the mount of transfiguration, afterwards they slept also in suffering time. Well, therefore, if you would not depart from God, the living God, through unbelief, take heed of the slumbers of grace, take heed of remissness in any duty, lest remissness cause omission, omission commission, and commission departing from God.
Take heed that you do not stand poring upon your temptations, whatsoever your temptations be. When the children of Israel were stung by the serpents in the wilderness, they did not stand poring upon the arm that was stung, and crying out, Oh, my arm ! oh, how it is swelled! but they looked up upon the brazen serpent. If they had looked upon their arm, and stood poring upon that, they had never been cured. So now, if in case we be tempted, the way is, not to stand poring upon the temptation, but to look off unto Christ. If, therefore, you would not depart from God in the time of
temptation, take heed of poring upon the temptation, look off
Set the Lord always before your eyes, his all-sufficiency,
Possess your hearts much with the fear of God : fcar is the preserver of innocency: “ I will put my fear into your hearts, saith God, that you shall not depart from me:” if then you would not depart from God, labour to possess your souls with the fear of God.
Take heed how you consult with flesh and blood in the things of God. If Paul had consulted with flesh and blood, he had never believed. And if in the things of God we consult with flesh and blood, we are sure to depart from God, the living God.
Put yourselves often unto this disjunction. Come, O my soul, either there is enough in God alone, or there is not: if there be not enough in God alone, how do they live in heaven? They have no meat, no drink, no clothes, no gold nor silver: as the martyr said, I am going to that country where your gold and silver will not go; when they offered him gold and silver; alas, our gold and silver doth not go there; as leather money will not go here where gold and silver goes : so our gold and silver will not go there : if there be not enough in God alone, how do you think they live in heaven? Surely they live upon God. Therefore there is enough in God : well, if there be enough in God alone, O my soul, why should I depart from God? All departure doth signify an insufficiency. I leave this house, and go to another, because this house is not sufficient. When I am sick I send to my neighbour for beer, why? because my beer do not like me. The bee leaves one flower, and goes to another, because it doth not find enough in that flower : all departing notes an insufficiency. If I depart from God, it notes an insufficiency in God. Is it not because there is no God in Israel that ye are gone down to Baal-zephon? Well, either there is enough in God alone, O my soul, or there is not. If there be not enough in God alone, then how do they live in heaven? If there be enough in God alone, then why should I depart from God through unbelief? Thus put yourselves upon this
dilemma, and it will be a means to keep you from departing from God through your unbelief.
If you would not depart from God, the living God, through unbeliet, then take heed of worldliness. Take heed of covetousness and of worldliness. We cannot serve two masters, God and mammon; you must cleave to the one and forsake the other: Demas hath forsaken me and embraced this present world. A worldly covetous heart will depart from God, and therefore take heed of covetousness, worldliness. Seek not great things for yourselves. Seek ve great things in these times? Seek them not; it is a great matter to have one's life for a prey in evil times.
If you would not depart from God, the living God, through unbelief, then take heed of misbelief; all unbeiief is grounded upon a misbelief.
We do not believe because we misbelieve. We see it in Adam, he was guilty of unbelief. How? Why he believed the devil. “ You shall be like God," said he : and by his misbelieving he came into unbelief. His unbelief was grounded upon a misbelief. God draws by promises and the devil tempts by promises. Why, when the devil tempts by promises, if we believe his promises we shall soon be guilty of unbelief in regard of God's promises ; and therefore if we would not depart from God, the living God, through unbelief, take heed of misbelieving.
If you would not depart from God through unbelief, then look to your judgment in reference to your conversation, and look to your conversation in reference to your judgment; look to your life in reference to your opinion, look to your opinion in reference to your life. Faith and a good opinion doth preserve a good life, a good life doth preserve faith and a good opinion. Faith lies in the bosom of a good conversation. Faith is best preserved by a good conversation, and a good conversation is best preserved by faith. Sometimes men do depart from God, and their departure begins above in the judgment, and like rheum it falls down upon the lungs, it falls down upon the conversation. Sometimes the departing begins below in the conversation, and steams up into the judgment, as some things that are unsavoury in the stomach, they steam up into the head. Sometimes the departure from God begins above, and works downward into the conversation; sometimes it begins below in the conversation, and works upwards into the judg
ment. Therefore look to your judgments in reference to your conversation, and look to your conversation in reference to your judgment. Look to your faith in reference to your life, and look to your life in reference to your faith.
If you would not depart from God, the living God, throug! unbelief, then take heed how you run with the times. Good friends, there is the truth of the times and there is the erro: of the times; there is the grace of the times and there is the sin of the times; seldom that the generality of people hit it, they seldom hit the truth of the times, seldom hit the grace of the times. I say, the generality of people seldom hit it, they are like the dead fish that swims down the water, the living fish swims against the tide; and the living christian swims against the tide of the times. Take heed, if you would not depart from the living God through unbelief, take heed how you fall with the times, for, I say, seldom do the generality of people hit the truth, or the grace of the times.
Know that it is the greatest honour, possess your souls on it, that may be to wait upon the Lord, and the greatest dishonour to depart from God through unbelief; thereby a man proclaims his own folly; thereby he doth put himself out of God's protection ; thereby he casts dirt and reproach in the very face of God: Is it not because there is no God in Israel, that ye go down to Baal-zebub the God of Ekron? God will cast dirt and reproach in their faces, that cast dirt and reproach in his face : it is the greatest honour to wait upon the Lord; it is the greatest dishonour to depart from God.
Be very sensible of your own unbelieving heart, and of all your former departings from God: the best way to keep from new sins, is to be very sensible of old sins; he that is very sensible of his former sins, shall through the grace of God be kept from new sins : have you departed from the Lord, be sensible of your departings from God, be sensible of your own unbelieving heart: there is many that go up and down, and are never sensible of their own unbelieving hearts, twenty thirty, forty years they have lived, and yet not sensible of their unbelieving heart, though it is the greatest evil : well, if you be sensible of your unbelief, and former departings from God, then you shall be kept from departing from the Lord through unbelief.
If you would not depart from God, the living God, through an evil heart of unbelief: be not too confident of your own strength in standing, but commit yourself, and your cause and your way, and your heart unto the Lord : the best swimmers are the soonest drowned: why? because they are the most confident, and the most confident people do the soonest fall and depart from the Lord. But our strength is to commit ourselves unto God, “ Commit thy way unto the Lord,” saith he; and the apostle in evil times, suffering times, calls upon us to do this, to commit ourselves into the hand of God, as into the hands of a faithful Creator. Are the times declining, and do many depart from the Lord ? take heed, be not too confident, he that standeth, standeth by faith ; be not too confident of your own standing, but commit your way, your souls, and your all unto God. He is best kept that the eternal God keeps: and if you cummit yourselves unto him and his keeping he will certainly keep you. And thus have I given unto you these twenty directions, that so you may not through an evil heart of unbelief be drawn to depart from the living God.
A WARNING TO APOSTATES.
“ Remember Lot's wife.”—LUKE XVII, 32. In this chapter our Lord and Saviour Christ tells us how it shall be in the latter day, immediately before his second, or his last coming; which he declares by two similitudes or comparisons.
The first comparison is drawn from the days of Noah ; wherein he observes their security and their punishment.
Security. As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be, also, in the days of the Son of Man: they did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, verses 26 and 27.
Punishment. And the flood came and destroyed them all.
The second comparison is drawn from the days and times of Lot, where you have their security and their punishment: