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ed; and ever since this revolt from God, you have been departing more and more from him. 0! what a day was that, when you first left your apartment without prayer! Perhaps you have forgotten it. But, no! How can you forget your hesitation-your strugglings with conscience-the shame and uneasiness you endured, so that you longed and endeavoured as soon as possible to lose the feeling.–And you succeeded. You felt less the day following. At length you obtained a victory over every moral embarrassment. And now you lie down and rise up like the beasts that perish, and feel nothing.
But allow me to ask, Is not this neglect of religious retirement, a proof that the love of God is not in you? You treat men with attention ; but he is not in all your thoughts. You salute your fellow-creatures according to their rank and quality ; but you never give him the glory that is due unto his holy name.
You visit your friends and acquaintances, but you never call upon God, though he is not far from any one of you. And have you nothing to do with Him? Is he not your Creator ? Your Preserver? Your Governor? Your Judge ? Have you nothing to hope from him ? Nothing to fear? In his hand your breath is, and his are all your ways. Men deny the depravity of human nature : but we want no other proof of the mortifying truth, than this alienation of your mind from God. Can this be an innocent state? Could this be the condition of man, when God made him upright ? No! We do not go, we need not go, to the refuse of society in prisons and galleys. Setting aside all immorality and profligacy; when we see creatures shunning their Creator; and beneficiaries hating to retain their Benefactor in their knowledge ; when we see men, instead of loving God with all their heart, banishing him from his own temple, and forbidding him the bosom that was made for himself—we know they must be fallen, and perverted, and guilty creatures ; and without pardon and renovation can never enter into the kingdom of God. And this is your character; your danger. You are living without God. You are enemies to him. In vain you reekon upon your virtue and safety, because you may be free from the iniquities which disgrace others. Sins of omissions expose to condemnation, as well as positive transgressions. They are violations of the same authority. He that forbids, also enjoins. And you show your contempt of God, by neglect, as well as by insult. If two persons living together in the same house were never speak to each other, it would be deemed by all, as much a proof of dislike, as their fighting. Be not therefore deceived. You are wronging your own souls. All they that are far from God shall perish. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God.”
Is not, therefore, another cause of your neglect of the closet, a guilty conscience ? You are afraid to enter into solitude. You know that however cheerful you appear, you are far from being happy in reality. You have your occasional forebodings ; and it is safer not to look into your condition lest they should be confirmed. You surround yourselves with company, lest, being alone, truth should invade your delusion, or you should be haunted by the ghosts of your own thoughts. The value of your amusements does not consist in the pleasure they yield, but in their power to divert you from reflection. And this
power they must soon lose. And its effect at
THE CHRISTIAN, IN THE CLOSET.
present is limited. It is no easy thing to keep out light, where there are so many apertures to blind up; or to sleep on, where stillness is impossible. What a life of constraint and uneasiness are you leading ! 66 There is no peace, saith my God, unto the wicked.”
Another prevention is to be found in creature attraction and worldly cares. You 66 mind earthly things.” Your farm and your merchandise; your rising early, and sitting up late, and compassing sea and land, to carry some temporal interest—these furnish you with excuses ; , these yield you substitutes ; these keep you from seeking those things that are above. We wish not to render you indifferent to your stations in life, or to induce you to undervalue the good things which he gives you to enjoy. But while you are not slothful in business, be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
66 Labour not” only, or principally, “ for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. And if you obtain them not in this subordination, you will find them to be nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit. Your table will become a snare. Your prosperity will destroy you.
We have thus again called you to enter your Closet. And as to many of you, it is probable the application will be again refused. But another call will soon be addressed to you. It will be to die. That call you cannot refuse. You live in a crowd—but you must die alone. You now hate silence--but you are hastening to “ the house appointed for all living;" and
“ Darkness, death, and long despair,
THE CHRISTIAN, IN THE FAMILY.
" Then David returned to bless his household.”_2 Sam. vi. 20.
THE human frame is “a body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working of every part.' There is nothing in it irregular; nothing defective; nothing superfluous. The eye cannot say to the ear, I have no need of thee; nor the hand to the foot, I have no need of thee; the members are all connected with, all dependent upon, all subservient to each other; and were you to separate them, the body, wbich is composed of the whole, would be at once disfigured and destroyed.
It is the same with the system of Christianity, as presented in the Scriptures of truth. By separation, it loses both its beauty and its energy: its beautyfor this consists in the fine adjustment of the parts ; its energy-for this results from the harmonious operation of the whole. What God therefore has joined together, whether it be doctrine and duty, or command and promise, or privilege and service, or hope and fear-let not man put asunder.
The zeal of some professors is not always according to knowledge, or such as to evince a “heart right with God." It is not full of good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." For these are nearly allied. Partiality is always a proof of hypocrisy; for if you are upright before God, and sincerely desirous of pleasing him, you will come to him, not to dictate, but to submit; not to choose, but to say, « Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?”
66 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.”
A Christian is not a perfect character ; but he is a character : he is always the same; every where the same. The same in prosperity and adversity; the same in publick and in private; the same in the dwelling-place, as in the temple; the same in the family, as in the church. If there be any difference, his immediate connexions will have the advantage; and looking towards those who have the best opportunities of knowing and observing his religion, he will be able to say, “Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience; that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” When Whitfield was asked, whether a certain person was a good man, he replied, “ I know not-I never lived with him.” And Philip Henry remarks, that “ Every man, in religion, is really what he is relatively." We have to exhibit the Christian this morning
In the FAMILY. Here it is supposed that he has a family. He is not a poor, illiberal, solitary individual ; preferring vice, or mopishness, or an escape from expense, care, and trouble, to a state which was designed to complete the happiness of Adam in Paradise ; and which