Imatges de pàgina
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1. That the Lord and idols are suitors for the heart of every man and woman that hears the gospel; and because that idols have the first love, they strive to retain it, and the Lord comes to recover it. Lusts court it, and therefore the gospel teaches to deny them, Tit. ii. 12,“ denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and while it thus teaches, it brings a better offer. The devil, the world, and the corrupt nature, are proxies to agent for our lusts : the Lord's Spirit, his ministers, and conscience, act for the Lord.—Consider,

2. That the sinner's heart is urged with offers and arguments on both hands. God makes his offers, and urges them with the strongest arguments, taken from the certainty of eternal happiness, or misery, of enjoying his unspeakable love, or incurring his dread displeasure : Isa. lv. 2, " Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your souls delight themselves in fatness.” Satan is not behind hand in pains to urge his offers, he plies them with allurements of present profit and pleasure, most suited to the corrupt heart, which naturally gapes for them.—Consider,

3. That there can be no enjoying of both together: Matth. vi. 24, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." The Lord will not deal shares with lusts and idols, the offer is peremptory on other terms, “If ye take me, let these go.” If the matter could be agreed betwixt the Lord and his rival idols, the wavering soul would soon be at a point, and would embrace both. But that cannot be : if the Lord be received, he must have the crown, and the most beloved lusts must be nailed to the cross : Gal. v. 24, “ And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.”Consider,

4. That the matter must be determined by the sinner's free choice: Josh. xxiv. 15, “ Choose ye this day whom yo will serye.” The Lord will not take possession without the sinner's consent, for it is the heart he seeks, and if that be wanting, there is no bargain. And the choice must be an absolute and a final one; there must be a final deciding of this cause, so that thereafter the soul may cleave to the one, with full purpose of heart, and altogether abandon the other.Consider,

Lastly, That the Lord requireth the sinner's decided answer. But here the sinner wavereth; he is neither determined to give up altogether with the Lord, nor to give up wholly with his lusts; sometimes he is almost persuaded, but never altogether. So there comes

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still one off-put on the back of another; and when the singer has been at the advising and deciding this business days and years, he is as far from a point the last day as the first.—I am now to propose some considerations,

II. For confirmation of this point.--consider,

1. That there is no competition here in point of real value. What is the dead idol Baal, in comparison with Jehovah, the living God? What are our filthy lusts, in comparison with Christ? Jer. xxiii. 28, “ The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully : what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.” It is a disgrace on our reason, to put them in the balance together, and argues a fearful blindness with which mankind are seized, once to entertain a doubt which to choose.-Consider,

2. That it is ingratitude of the deepest dye, not readily to fall in with the offer. When the potter is making suit to his own clay, the mighty God to his own creature worm man, to put off his offer, because of the craving of the heart after filthy lusts, these brats of hell, and spawn of the old serpent, is certainly ungrateful. The Lord might have left us with them, to have made the best of them we could, which would have been no better than death ; for what else could have resulted from our drinking that cup of poison ? But now, when he comes to offer us life, how horrible is it to be wavering and undetermined, whether we will accept of the Lord and life, or not 1-Consider,

Lastly, That this warning is on a matter of the utmost weight, and what we have not one to-morrow allowed us to advise upon. Our souls lie at stake, eternal salvation or damnation depend on our choice ; if we make the Lord our choice, we are happy for ever; if ye do not, we are ruined for ever; it is, “ To-day, if ye will hear his voice,” Psalm xcv. 7; so that, if death carry you off undetermined, your eternal destruction is unalterably fixed; and what an abominable thing is it, then, to be still wavering ?-I now proceed,

III. To make some application of the subject. And with this design, I would expostulate with you halters and undetermined sinners, who are not yet come to a point in the matter of your choice betwixt Christ and your lasts, in the words of the text, “ How long halt ye betwixt two opinions ?" How long will it be ere you come to a point how to dispose of that heart of yours? You have had many rich gospel-calls from the Lord, and many communion-calls, and yet you have not freely abandoned your idols, and made choice of the Lord, to this day. Still you are balting, undetermined, and wavering. How long shall it be thus ?-In managing this expostulation, I would ask,

I. Who are the wavering, ondetermined halters betwixt the Lord and their lusts ?--I answer,

(1.) Yo who to this day never found the time to break your covenant with your lusts, and to enter into covenant with God, either in pretence or reality. Are there not some here, who never gave their personal consent to the baptismal covenant, who aro utter strangers to personal covenanting with God in Christ? they have not even expressly in words renewed the covenant made for them in baptism, much less have they ratified it with their own solemn consent before the Lord : they are woeful halters, but without making this choice they can never see heaven : Eph. ii. 12, “ Strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”—Ye are the wavering,

(2.) Who time after time slight the sacrament of the Lord's supper, not preparing yourselves to partake of it. What makes you always and constantly mere spectators and onlookers of the seal of the covenant, and that solemn engagement to be the Lord's, but that you are halters betwixt the Lord and your lusts? Were there a bargain in your offer, of which all the partners were obliged to strike bands with the party that makes it with them, and you stood by, and would not give your hand; would not that prove you not to be determined as yet for the bargain? You would be glad to have the bargain ratified betwixt God and you, if you were really for it; Psalm lxviii. 31, “ Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God.”—To this some may object,

We would fain take the sacrament, but they will not give us tokens of admission.—To tbis I answer,

What hinders your receiving them, but your gross ignorance, or your ungodly and scandalous life, which certainly ought to do it: Matth. vii. 6,“ Give not that which holy unto the dogs.” But why do not ye get the knowledge of God and religion, and reform your lives, that ye may sit down at the Lord's table? And liere lies the matter, you are not so far determined yet as to quit your lusts, for all the communion with God that is to be had in the sacrament. -Such of you are halting,

(3.) Who have had your convictions of sin, and are in so far satisfied, that you should have given up with it, but your hearts were never brought to part with it to this day. Are there not many who are standing undetermined this day on the carcases of their murdered convictions ? Acts xxiv. 25, “ Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time, when I have a more convenient season, I will call for thee.” They have been lashed by their consciences, to drive them to the Lord from their lusts; nay, they had

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much ado to resist these lashings; but, after all, these impressions are worn off, and they are not yet determined.-Such are wavering,

(4.) Who have (often perhaps) been aiming at the covenant, but always stuck at one thing. You have been brought to a point in many things, but one thing you could never yet get over. O miserable halter betwixt God and the idol of jealousy! shall that one thing mar the winning of thy soul? If you be not content with all the articles of the covenant, without exception, you have your choice to make, yet you are not determined ; Mark x. 21, “ Jesus said unto him, One thing thou lackest,” &c.—Such are halting,

(5.) Who are still at fast-and-loose with God, and whom nothing can bind, who do with their vows, as the dog with his collar, that slips it off and on as he pleases : Psalm lxxviii. 36, 37, “ Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his covenant." There are many of our communicants of this sort, who come under the vows of God very lightly, and as lightly soon after slip out from under the tio ; the truth is, they never consider the matter with due seriousness. They make choice of the Lord, but, in very deed, their hearts were never in earnest determined.-Such of you are wavering,

Lastly, And in a word, who have not expressly embraced God and Christ, but cleave to your lusts. Our Lord has often come to you in the gospel, requiring your last answer, but you have neither yet given it, nor will you either plainly say yo will betake yourselves to your lusts and idols for altogether, nor are you come the length of an honest resolve to give over with them for altogether. Ye are undoubtedly woful undetermined halters.

2. I must ask at you, How long will ye halt, and be unâetermined ?

(1.) Have yo not halted long enough already betwixt God and your lusts ? 1 Pet. iv. 3, “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles." Have yo not often enough sent away the Lord in his messengers groaning from you, because ye could not be won yet? (1.) Young halters, may not ye, after ten, fifteen, and twenty years, or more, be at a point whether ye will be the Lord's or not? I assure you, God has been at a point with many one in that time, who never got your length, but their states are determined in another world already, without possibility of alteration. Every seven years ye have been in the world, ye have had an year of Sabbaths, in these Sabbaths many, many a call. And will ye yet be undetermined ? (2.) old halters, may not ye be at a point, after thirty, forty, fifty, or sixty years ye have taken to advise in? will ye halt on, till ye slip into a grave, into hell, undetermined. All the sermons ye have heard, the communions

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have waited on, even all the rods and the mercies ye have met with, have left you where they found you, as undetermined as over, and will ye still go away this day as undetermined as ye came?

2dly, How can you be at ease as long as such a weighty matter is undetermined ? Poor soul! while thou art halting, thou art standing on the brink of the pit, and whether death or life shall be thy lot, whether heaven or hell, is still as to thee undetermined. Till thou determine the point to be the Lord's, and to renounce all thy idols, Satan has the hold of thee, and there is nothing between death and thee but one step, thou hangest over the pit by the longworn thread of divine patience; and whenever that gives way, thon art lost for ever: John iii. 36, “ He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

(3.) Do you not wonder, that God has waited so long upon you, that he has not taken your slights and scorns for your final answer ? Is it not surprising, that he has not recalled his ambassadors, and denounced war against you, to be carried on for ever? Ye must needs wonder that it is not so, when ye consider the infinite greatness of him who makes suit to you, the meanness and vileness of those whom he courts, and the abominable competitors which ye prefer to him.

(4.) Are ye not afraid lest the Lord halt, and proceed no farther in seeking after you? that this may be the last call that ever you may get? Luke xiv. 24," For I say unto you, that none of these men which were bidden, shall taste of my supper.” Sit this call, and who knows but the Lord may from this time leave you to your lusts? Psalm lxxxi. 11, 12, “But my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me. So I gave

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up unto their own hearts' lusts and they walked in their own counsels." Hos. iv. 17, “ Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.” Saying, Cease my Spirit, cease conscience, ministers, ordinances, judgments, mercies; give that man no more disturbance in the embraces of his lusts, let them hang by him, and he by them, till they sink him into hell, and lie there as a mountain of lead on him for ever.

(5.) Do you not know, the longer you halt, it will be the harder to come to a point for God ? the longer ye hold off from the Lord, you will be the more loth to come away; Prov. vi. 10, “ Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep." He that is not fit this day, will be unfitter to-morrow; for lusts, through continuance, grow more and more strong, and the devil, that comes at first alone, afterwards his name is Legion, for they are many. I aver, that it had been telling many of us, that they had

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