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sors most probably devoted us in baptism to the service of God; and the vows then made for us, most reasonable and conducive to the perfection of our nature, we are bound to discharge. And have we not assumed these vows in the ordinance of confirmation, or at the supper of the Lord? Christians, we are solemnly pledged to the service of God: take heed lest we forsake him. Tremendous is the guilt of violating the vows of our Christian vocation, and thus putting him to an open shame who died for us, and grieving that Holy Spirit of God whereby we were sealed unto the day of redemption. Glaring is the impiety which can renounce the service of the God of goodness, and enlist under the banner of the prince of darkness-which can forsake those paths that lead to peace and to the glories of heaven, and pursue the way that leads to misery, to the chambers of hell. Tremendous the presumption, which can brave the power, the justice, the vengeance of the living God.
II. For not less conspicuous than the guilt, are the folly and danger of forsaking the service of the Lord.
1. We shall thus incur the reproaches of our own minds;
2. We shall lose the esteem of the pious; and, 3. We shall forfeit the favour and incur the just displeasure of God.
1. If we forsake the service of God, we shall incur the reproaches of our own minds.
God has stamped on his laws such traits of excellence, and has so fitted them to the powers
and affections of the human mind, and they are so fruitful of peace, and joy, and felicity, that reason must approve of them, and conscience, enlightened and uncorrupted, must delight in them. The language of the inspired psalmist concerning the law of God, is the language of reason and conscience" The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, and giveth wisdom unto the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, and rejoice the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, and giveth light unto the eyes. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and the honey-comb."
What reproaches of conscience then must they encounter, who cast off laws thus reasonable and full of consolation! The remorse and misery inseparably connected with transgression, must be aggravated by the constant recollection of those pure and holy joys which they have forfeited. Conscience, reminding them of a God insulted, of a Saviour contemned, of vows violated, of immortal felicity rejected, will perpetually excite the emotions of shame, of regret, of fearful apprehension. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
2. They who forsake the service of God, forfeit the esteem and confidence of the pious.
Man is impelled by every principle of his nature to intercourse with his fellow-men; and in this social intercourse he would be miserable, were he denied a place in the affections of those with whom he associates, and pointed at by the finger of scorn. Behold in this principle the folly of those who renounce their allegiance to their God. While ranged in the ranks of the pious, they took counsel toge
ther as friends; and, however forsaken by the world, or pursued by its reproaches and persecutions, the servant of God would find consolation in the sympathy and support of those with whom he was united by the ties of Christian esteem and confidence. The world with its sorrows and calamities need not intimidate or depress him while supported by the friendship and affection of the righteous, those excellent of the earth for whom God governs all the events of time, and for whom he is preparing the glories of eternity.
But when the servant of God leaves his heavenly Master, he separates from those whose confidence and support constituted his honour and his consolation. How can he meet the condemning countenances of those who, once witnessing his plighted vows to their God, now witness those vows broken and contemned? What shame and what remorse will their reproaches, which conscience will suggest, and which conscience will sanction, convey to his soul! Faithless Christian, in forsaking thy God, thou hast forsaken the best of masters, the most tender of parents, the most faithful of friends -thou hast trampled under foot the Saviour who wrought thy redemption by his tears and by his blood, and hast lied to that Holy Ghost whom thou didst often invoke to seal and to strengthen thy pious vows-thou hast blotted out thy name from the book of life, and hast cast from thee thy title to thy heavenly inheritance-alas! to the crimes of the basest ingratitude and of perjury to thy Maker, thou hast added the grossest folly. False to thy God, thou canst not escape the censures of the pious, the reproaches of conscience, and the vengeance of thy eternal Judge.
It is this last consideration which most strikingly displays the FOLLY and the DANGER of the conduct of those who forsake the Lord.
3. They forfeit the favour, they incur the wrath of the Almighty Sovereign and Judge of the world. "They who forsake the Lord shall be consumed." Alas! what can the faithless, the apostatizing Christian interpose against the sentence of destruction! He had solemnly vowed allegiance to God, and wilfully violates his engagements; the comforts and joys of the divine favour he deliberately renounces; the blood of that Saviour which cleanseth from sin, and which spoke peace to his conscience, he tramples under foot; and prefers, to the light and joy arising from the promises of the word of God, and from the prospect of the glories of the world to come, the service of sin and the bondage of Satan. Perdition surely is his due -it is his choice-and how dreadful that perdition, the judgment of the last day will disclose.
Brethren, there are none among us, I trust, who have not assumed the name and the obligations of Christians; and yet are there not some who live in the habitual neglect of their Christian obligations-who, by a life of thoughtless gaiety, of sensual pleasure, of sinful indulgence, dishonour that holy name wherewith they are called? Alas! they are of the number of those who are forsaking the Lord, who are drawing back unto perdition. From walking in the counsel of the ungodly, and standing in the way of sinners, they will soon fearlessly sit in the seat of the scornful. Brethren, if we are thus forsaking that service to which reason, conscience, and the word of God call us, and to which the most solemn obligations bind us, before the
sentence of destruction is executed upon us, let us repent and turn unto the Lord. The day of our probation is not yet terminated-justice has not yet closed against us the door of mercy: the miseries of hell may yet be shunned-the glories of heaven may yet be secured. God is yet waiting to be gracious unto us: let us return unto him, lest he shut up his mercies in everlasting displeasure; for "they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed."
But there are those of whom better things are hoped there are those who, satisfied of the reasonableness and excellence of their Christian obligations, and impressed with the supreme importance of securing the salvation of their souls, are desirous to serve their God and Saviour; and who, not ashamed of the cross of Christ, have confessed him before men, and in the ordinances of his church renewed their vows of devotion to their Lord and Redeemer. Disciples of Christ, to you the solemn caution applies-" Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." And you also should bear in mind the awful denunciation"They that forsake the Lord shall be consumed" -"they who draw back, draw back unto perdition." You are satisfied that the service of God is a reasonable service-your duty, your privilege, and your felicity. You are impressed with the solemn conviction that the business of your salvation is of supreme importance, and that every other concern should be subordinate to the most interesting object of making your Christian calling and election sure. To gain the whole world and lose your own soul would, in your estimation, be the extreme of folly; and your own experience confirms the conclusions