Imatges de pàgina
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excellence and duration. If, where worldly objects alone are concerned, indecision betrays censurable weakness and an absence of ardent and real nobleness and elevation of spirit, how much stronger the proofs of the same defects of character, when the infinitely important concerns of religion-when the claims of our Maker, Benefactor, Sovereign, and Judge-when death, judgment, and eternity cannot rouse to energy and decision!

They, then, who acknowledge the obligations of religion, assent to its excellence, and to the exalted value of its hopes and its consolations-who feel the importance of preparing for the certain event of death, and for the awful scenes which are to succeed it-and yet fail to summon resolution to act consistently with the dictates of their judgment and their feelings, to embrace with supreme devotedness of soul the service of God, to attend on all his ordinances, and to endeavour to obey all his commands-ought seriously to reflect on the severe reproach to which this conduct justly exposes them. From whatever cause it proceeds, whether from that timidity which shrinks at the ridicule and frowns of the world, or from those sordid and sensual passions which plead for indulgence, indecision, when the interests of their immortal souls and the concerns of eternity are at stake when God, their Maker, Benefactor, Sovereign, and Judge, demands the reception of his sacred truths, and obedience to his righteous laws, indecision surely must subject them to the severest censure. Our own sober understandings must so pronounce; our own hearts must secretly condemn the weakness which this indecision discovers. What objects more important than those of religion? What

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motives more powerful than those of eternity? What greater reproach, then, can be incurred, than by indecision, when these objects are at stake, when these motives urge? If, then, consistency of character is an excellence worth preserving-if energy, ardour, and firmness of mind be qualities highly to be valued-if it be desirable to escape the censure of the reflecting portion of our fellow-men, and the poignant consciousness that this censure is merited -let us shake off that irresolution which is continually balancing between God and the world; which to-day is the worshipper of the one, and to-morrow an idolater of the other. Let us come out boldly on the Lord's side, and defy the hosts of temptation which are set in array against us. Let us act consistently in obeying the dictates of our judgments and conscience, and no longer supremely serve the world, when our judgment and our conscience urge us to serve the Lord-no longer live for time, when our judgment and our conscience testify that we should live for eternity. It is this decisive choice of God, and devotion to his service, which only can secure the approbation of our own minds, and save us from the stigma of reproach and the seal of condemnation.

2. For if indecision in religion be reproachful, it is also eminently culpable.

That to act in any way, and on any subjects, contrary to the enlightened dictates of our judgment and our conscience, is culpable, no one will deny. That to act thus contrary to their dictates, in regard to the duties which we owe to that Almighty Being who made us, and on whom we are dependent for life and all its enjoyments and

hopes, stains the soul with the deepest criminality, is too plain to require proof. And what is the case with the character which we are contemplating? Is not the man who is indecisive in religion, perpetually violating the laws of God? Is there any security that his good desires will ever be carried into effect; that his virtue will stand the shock of temptation; or that he will persevere for any time in a consistent profession even of religion? Will not the sneers and scoffs of the thoughtless and ungodly intimidate him, and disarm him of his virtuous purposes? Will not the solicitations of passion and the alluring temptations of the world overpower his best resolutions and his pious desires? Pious desires, virtuous resolutions may rise up momentarily in his soul; but, like transient meteors, they pass away before the first blast of temptation. Virtuous actions may occasionally appear; but these are only feeble rays of light amid the general gloom. And can a heart thus divided between God and the world, and which cherishes so feeble a sense of piety as to be perpetually overpowered by temptation, be acceptable in the sight of that Almighty Being to whom supreme homage is due? Will he pass over violations of his laws and contempt of his authority, because the transgressor will not exert the energy and the resolution which are necessary to a course of consistent piety and uniform virtue? Alas! what pleas can he urge in arrest of the sentence of condemnation, who continues in a course of transgression? Can he plead ignorance of the precepts of religion, or insensibility to their excellence and value? His judgment and his heart will testify against him. Can he plead the want of motives to a religious

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life? But reason confirms the assurances of the word of God, that by such a life only can he fulfil his obligations to the Author of his being, his Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer; and that by such a life only can he attain true felicity here, and everlasting joy hereafter. Can he plead that the strength was wanting which was necessary to enable him to resist temptation? The word of God would testify against him; for this word assures him, that, had he asked, he should have received; had he sought, he should have found; had he knocked, the door should have been opened. This holy word promised to him a grace which should have been sufficient for him, a strength which should have been made perfect in his weakness. Every plea fails. He is convicted at the tribunal of reason and of conscience, of having contemned the authority of God, of having neglected the interests of his immortal soul, through an indecision that was without excuse, and therefore as criminal as it is disgraceful.

They then, who have not summoned resolution to act as the consistent professors of the name of Christ-who permit the business or the cares of the world, or its scoffs and its sinful solicitations, to overpower the dictates of their judgment and their conscience, and to prevent them from taking a decided stand among the servants of God-if the reproach to which this indecision is justly exposed do not affect them, ought to be alarmed at its criminality. To be undecided on concerns so momentous as those of eternity; perpetually to hesitate, and hesitating, to err and to transgress, when God, their Maker, their Sovereign, their Judge, demands obedience, displays a criminality

surely without excuse. Conscience, if they listen

to her voice, must thus pronounce concerning this hesitating, indecisive conduct; and the judgment of the great day will seal its everlasting condemnation before an assembled universe.

In what instance is this criminal and dangerous indecision more strikingly displayed than in regard to the supper of the Lord? The authority of this institution, and the command to receive it, are so explicit; the obligations arising from the divine character and merciful offices of him who instituted it, and which enforce its reception, are so numerous and powerful; the duty of commemorating the love of him who came from heaven, and suffered, and died, to purchase for us eternal life, is so reasonable; and the benefits of an ordinance thus enforced are so numerous pardon, consolation, hope, joy, everlasting felicity; that every professor of the Christian name must be convinced that he cannot abstain from the reception of it without the imputation of inconsistency, ingratitude, and guilt. And yet indecision keeps many from the discharge of this reasonable duty, and burdens their conscience with guilt. Alas! indecision may cheat them of immortal felicity. Resolve then to come, penitent and humble, to the altar of him whose infinite love for you, even unto death, you have so long refused to commemorate.

My brethren, the concerns of religion are of supreme importance-the service of God our highest duty-obedience to his laws our perfection and felicity. Surely it ought to be our fixed determination, that, let others act as they may, we will serve the Lord. Let us imitate the worldly prophet in the virtuous purpose which, amidst his general

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