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love of the truth,' is to send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie.'
Still we seem 'as those that mock! But, bear with me, Brethren, while I point out to you the real mocker. It is not the Minister, who watches for your souls, and would rouse you to action; but it is one, who, like a strong man armed,' would keep his house and goods in peace. He is the mocker, who is still found repeating his ancient falsehood, Ye shall not surely die.? But, be not deceived: God is not to be "mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He, that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he, that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.'
Up, therefore, get ye out of this state. It is God, who calls you now, as He once did the sons of Lot. Had they attended to his warning, they would have been brought out by the same hand, which rescued their father. But they scorned the warning; and were therefore left without excuse.. Such is your
God hath sent you a message this morning: he hath promised his gracious assistance, if you ask it;
, and therefore leaves you without excuse,
you neglect it: and how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation !
2. One only perished on the plain before Sodom : but I fear the number of those is not small, whose cases resemble hers. Such, then, ÀS ARE TEMPTED TO LOOK BACK, I address as a second class of hearers.
You, to whom I now speak, have, perhaps, not only long attended our ministry, but profess also to honour the Gospel which we preach. You are shocked to hear it despised, and lament that it should be so often misrepresented. “God forbid," say you, “that I should ever be found sitting with the scorner; that I should be negligent in ordinances, or erroneous in doctrines. I have seen the benefit of true religion in others ; and have felt something of its power myself.
Its importance cannot be urged too strongly; for
what would it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?'
Your experience goes, perhaps, still further than this. You could tell of your having joined prayers to your endeavours. You could speak of the conflicts which
have felt between sin and conscience ;-of the efforts which you have made to break with the world, and escape to the mountain ; that you actually set out; that you once outran others.
But say, how is it now ?.If you once ran well, has nothing hindered you ? Are you not looking back to the city, whence you set out ? Has not some temptation made real, vital, practical religion seem a task ? Has not the love of this world left only the mere form of godliness, after it has eaten out the power of it? How many--I speak it with sorrow-how many
— have I noticed, who, while puffed up with the change of opinion, were yet careless about a change of heart ! -eagar to follow a new preacher; but thoughtless of a new state of life!-ready to dispute about free-will or free-grace; but deplorably unmindful that the grace of God, which bringetń salvation, teacheth us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.'
• But if, after men have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. They have not only 'looked back, but
' stand, as it were, already 'a pillar of salt to the wise, and a stumbling-block to the foolish. May every one of you, my dear hearers, be delivered from so fatal an error! Look not behind thee."
But, supposing that you are not thus looking back to the city, do you stay in the plain? that is, do you deem it sufficient that you have departed, in many l'espects, from the habits and maxims of a careless
and corrupt world ? Do you rest in a decent, formal, traditional religion, like that of the Pharisee satisfied with merely PROFITING ABOVE YOUR EQUALS—that you are regular in your devotions, consistent in your character, admired by many, and charitable to all ? Do you boast of a good heart; though you have never yet been taught by the Spirit of God the guilt and deceitfulness of the heart, the spirituality of God's Law, the necessity of repentance, and the only hope of escaping by faith in Christ Jesus? Still worse, do you obstinately resolve to harbour no suspicion of being in danger? do you stand proudly determining to reject all admonition, respecting your state, whether from your Friend or Minister? Alas! you stand indeed; but you stand still: you stand on the plain. Whatever you have left in the city, you have not escaped to the mountain ; I mean to that rest, rock, and hidingplace, which God hath pointed out for safety to perishing sinners. For he shall be for a sanctuary to? the believer; though for a 'stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence' to others. God grant that he may never prove such to any of you!
! If, however, the words of the servant make but a slight impression upon your hearts, Oh may the express words of the Master be duly regarded, when, with reference to the danger of loiterers, he says, REMEMBER LOT's wife!
3. I conclude with addressing the third class of persons, who ARE FULLY RESOLVED TO PROCEED, YET
Who, indeed, among us all, lingers not? However sincere in our profession, however convinced in our judgments, however resolved in our determinations, however injured already by our delay, yet, who among us lingers not? :
The preacher, I am sure, must plead guilty. The thought of standing up before such a congregation as this, is always accompanied with considerable weight on my spirits: but yesterday it was such, as led me to
LINGER ON THE WAY.
say in my family, “I cannot make a sermon for tomorrow: I am too much depressed to attempt it. Besides, I have been turning the Bible over and over for a subject, and cannot find one. I must take some printed discourse : at any rate, I can make none; and their candour will admit of an apology."
Ah! lingering, lazy minister? read a printed sermon! make apologies for sloth! find no subject! What, no subject, when sinners are perishing around you : when faithful witnesses are so scarce, and false witnesses are labouring to root out all remembrance of truth from the earth! No subject! when thy dying
! breath will'soon be in thy nostrils, and the door of thy opportunity soon be shut for ever!
Who does not join his confession to mine, and cry . Oh wretched man!'
Thus admonished by truth and goaded by conscience we slowly make our way. Some of our hindrances are inevitable; but too many are invited, are purchased, -are even boasted of, till, at length, our breath fails, and some one tells a neighbour, “ He is dead.” 5 Dead!" replies the other: “Į did not hear that he was sick! How did he die??? Why careful about many things ;' lingering as to the main thing: he had scarcely time left to set his House in order; God only knows how it was with his Heart.”
If, however, as Christians, we thus meditate upon our weakness and danger, it is not that we may sink under discouragement, but that we may quicken our pace, and to bring forward and exalt our remedy-it is that we may 'exhort one another while it is called to-day, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sinit is in order to our uniting in the cry, “Awake, Awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! With such views and means, we shall be able to say, with the Apostle, When I am weak, then am 1 strong.'
Nor let us stumble, as we are too apt, at the Provi
dence which is often sent to fulfil a Promise. You, to whom I am speaking, certainly pray in Christ's name, that God would deliver you from this evil world—that he would not let you rest in sin--that he would bring you on your way to heaven; and that he would choose the proper means.
But, has he really heard thee; and, in very faithfulness, sent some messenger to deliver thee, but such an one as alarms thy fear? Fear not, it is but an Angel's arm stretched out to conduct thee onward; a voice crying, ' Escape for thy life.'
Recollect, that, whatever be the means, which God employs to break our idolatrous attachments, and bring us on the heavenly way, though others call it a loss or a disappointment, a disease or a death, let us call it an angel's hand-let us call it the voice of Christ, saying, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous, therefore, and repent."
“ See, then, that ye refuse not him, that speaketh; ' nor draw back from him, that layeth hold on thy hand, the ‘Lord being merciful unto thee.' Rather, let us recollect, that though we linger, time lingers notdeath lingers not-judgment lingers not! May every heart be lifted up to God this morning, that the arm of special grace may be stretched out to deliver us from a lingering spirit! Let us depart praying; and forming new resolutions to retire and seek that grace, which alone can seal the admonition of this day upon our hearts.