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me to a human body yonder, and you tell me it is a corpse. You say, it is breathless. I understand you. It is breathless, lifeless. But yonder is a man dead in trespasses and in sins. He is prayerless. I understand it, if prayerless, graceless. But you tell me there is some hope, for you have just put to the lips of that human body a glass, and you are certain that that glass is dimmed with breath. You have examined the heart, and there is a slight pulsation. There is life where there is breath. And, blessed be God, there is life where there is a praying spirit. Yield to that Spirit which prompts you to pray. You will pray in the Spirit, and with the Spirit; and remember He is the Spirit that helps our infirmities. Mark me, the great work of the Spirit is to bring the sinner to Jesus. The office of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. He takes of the things which are Christ's, and reveals them unto us. You will use what are called the means of grace ; but do understand words, as I have already said, in reference to religion intelligibly. In all other subjects you never confound the means with the end. Alas, that men should do it in religion! They tell me that they have been to the means. I want to know whether they have been to Jesus, to the Saviour, to trust in Him.
Come, then, with whatever sense of guilt there may be in your conscience. Come now in spirit to our God, through the sacrifice of his Son ; and remember He justifies the ungodly.
“ Just as I am, without ono plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
Amen, and God grant it for us all.
BY THE REV. R. W. DIBDIN, M.A.,
"How long halt ye between two opinions ?”—1 Kings xviii. 21. THESE were the words of the prophet Elijah. He lived in the days of that very wicked king, Ahab, King of Israel-a kingdom which was begun when the ten tribes revolted under Jeroboam, in the reign of Rehoboam, King of Judah. They revolted not only from their lawful king, but also from the King of kings; and forsook the service of Jehovah to serve idols, the work of men's hands-yea, to worship devils ! so great was their wickedness, encouraged by Ahab, that very abominable king. Here we notice, my brethren, what it is to have a bad king, and what a blessing it is, like us, to have a good sovereign. Ahab was a wicked man himself, and the cause of wickedness in others; and if you read history, you will find that the wickedness of the people, in different ages and nations, that has brought down the judgments of Almighty God has been, in a great number of cases, owing to the wickedness of their rulers, who have led the way in the path of wickedness, and thus opened the door for the judgments of heaven. It was so in Samaria. Elijah, the prophet of the Most High, was sent, therefore, to declare the judgment of God upon them; and it came in such a form, that there was no mistaking the sapernatural agency of God in the matter. “As the Lord God of Israel liveth," saith he, " before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” Oh, think-especially in such a fervid land as that-of the effect of the withholding of tbe gracious dew of heaven and of the refreshing showers from the earth! For three years, or nearly so, it continued ; and in the third year the prophet Elijah showed himself to Ahab.
It may be well to read the passage in which the context stands. Commencing at the 17th verse you read, It came to pass, wheu Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel ; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim." He picks him out -Thou, and the people who follow you ; therefore you have troubled Israel. You are the troubler, the ringleader in rebellion :-“Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, “ How long halt ye between two opinions ? if the Lord be God, follow him : but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.” It has always been so; the Devil has always had more prophets than the Lord. There have always been false teachers in greater numbers than true teachers. Although in some ages, nations may make a nearer approach to an exception to the general rule, as our own age and nation happily, yet it is true now; taking the teachers together, Satan hath many more than the Lord Jesus Christ. We must not forget that there are the whole of the Popish teachers; these are a large number. And not only these, but also Socinian teachers; not a very small number, I am sorry to say. Then there are other kinds of talse teachersSwedenborgians, Mormonites; to say rothing of those who eat the bread of a Protestant Church, and are doing the work of the Pope and the Devil. Then avowed Infidel teachers; they are many. Shame it should be so! At this very moment when we are gathered together in this sanctuary to worship Jesus, there are in this metropolis thousands gathered together to worship human reason, and
to hear meu get up and say, the Bible is a lie, and Christ is not God! Now, when you add all these false teachers together, you will find now, as it was then, that Satan liath more than Jesus; alas! that it should be so.-"Let them, therefore, give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under. And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord : and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under, And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud : for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” There are some persons who think it wrong to mix anything like irony or sarcasm in religion, especially in preaching; and I think there may be too much of it; but, you see, it is not without inspired authority, that something of the kind may be used on fitting occasions. Certainly, this was a very humorous speech of the Prophet Elijah. What a thing to say to these poor men in their ignorance,-perhaps your god is sleeping, or, it may be, he is talking, and you must speak louder in order to get his attention! There is no harm in a laugh at the right time and in the right place. There is a great deal of wickedness in many men's laughter, such laughter as you sometimes hear with ribaldry and oaths; all such laughter is madness. There is a time to laugh, and there is a time not to laugh. Now, here was a time to ridicule these people. It was no laughing matter with them, though; they were very serious upon the matter, and instead of being amused, as some might be amused, by this taunting speech of the prophet, they took his advice, —" And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.” Very shocking! but at the same time very instructive. These men were in earnest ; a vast deal more so than many Christians are. After all, you see, they meant what they said; they acted according to their profession. We think it, and properly think it, a very foolish thing that men should suppose they please God by cutting themselves with knives, or that they could prevail with him by shedding their blood. At the same time, these men showed their sincerity, and that is not a bad thing in the right place. Let us avoid their superstition; but let us imitate their sincerity and their zeal.
“And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the son of Jacob, unto whom the Word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord : and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, .and laid him on the wood, and said, fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.” What is all that water for ? Not very necessary for a burnt offering, some might think, and rather an unpropitious beginning. It was to show the people that there was no mistake this time, that there was no collusion, no contrivance, no trick. I have no doubt, whatever, that if it had not been for the pouring of these barrels of water, it would have been said among infidels in the present day—“Elijah imposed upon the people. The fact is, he lighted it himself in some way that they did not understand.” But here you see it was actually drenched with water; in order to show what came to pass afterwards, that the fire which descended from heaven “licked up the water," as the expression is. And then, when the people saw that the fire did, indeed, descend from heaven, and that Jehovah was pleased to own his servant Elijah, they cried out with one voice, “ Jehovah, he is God, Jehovah, he is God” The Lord showed his power, and the people ackuowledged it, and they acknowledged his Prophet.
Now, you must notice that in the text the Prophet Elijah, before this miracle was wrought, warns the people against the danger of not profiting by so remarkable a display of Divine power, about to take place before their eyes. He commences, “ How long halt ye between two opinions ?" You are going to see something which ought to decide you, something which ought to make you to a man desert the cause of Baal and of false gods, and to acknowledge Jehovah, the only and the true God. “How long halt ye between two opinions ?” “Will it be much longer ?" “Will you halt after what you will see soon P" Yes ; it was so. They did not use the advantage, notwithstanding they had it afforded them. They said, “Jehovah, he is God ;" but still they went on in their wickedness, and still they served Baal. Some people might think it extraordinary ; but there is a very large class of persons to be found in this metropolis, who are, I am sorry to say, like unto those same Israelites; very like them in this, that they are convinced in their intellects, and in some measure touched and awakened in their consciences, and yet are so “ tied and bound by the chain of their sins," that they will follow the Devil, and the lasts of the flesh, and the world and its vanities. There are many who hear faithful evangelical preaching, who feel and own it to be God's truth, and acknowledge that there is a certain power accompanying it which does not accom. pany other teaching ; yet, the effects soon subside, and though they may, perhaps, have formed some hasty resolutions, they go back, like the sow which has been washed, to the mire, or like the dog to its vomit again.
I preached from this text twenty years ago, and I printed that sermon; and I really do not know that in all those years anything has occurred which should lead me to change the line of thought which I then adopted. I suggested two heads; first, nothing but decided holiness is of any value in religion; and, second, the folly of hope while living a worldly life. Let us endeavour to speak plainly and briefly to these two points.
1. We say, in the first place, that nothing but decided holiness will avail in the matter of religion. Not a little is meant when we say this. It is a strange thing that worldly men--that is, unconverted men--when they are speaking of religious doctrine, almost invariably set themselves against the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. They praise good works; they talk about good works; and they affirm that it is a wrong thing to teach that persons are to be saved and justified before God by the imputed righteousness of another, and that their own works are to have no part whatever in the justification or salvation of the sinner. They say that this is most objectionable. Well, when we examine their doings, we are much surprised to find that, whatever they say about works, they do not take care to have plenty of them. It is a strange thing that a man who says he is no saint, and would not look for salvation by faith alone, but thinks it far better that men should trust in good works—it is strange that men who think so do not take pains to have these good works. Is it the case that men are not particular about doctrine, but rather have a distaste for it, who say, “I do not so much care about faith, and doctrine, and religious ordinances ; I think God is holy, good, and pure, and that he is more pleased with goodness than anything else ?” Is it the case, I ask, that such persons are more given to goodness than other people ? I do not find my experience affirms that. Do we find that rich, worldly-ininded men, spare as much money, as they possibly can, from their large incomes, in order to give to the poor? I do not think the poor find much of their relief comes from that quarter. Is it true that men who cry up good works, as being pleasing to God, will give up their luxuries and wastefui expenditure, in order to have more to expend on good works -as, for instance, the spread of Christianity, the support of hospitals, or such things as contribute to the well-being of the poor ? Why, no; I have not seen much proof of it, but I have seen and heard much to the contrary. So that if it were granted, what they say, that good works do something for the salvation of the soul, they would be no better off, for they have not the works which they praise so much. They would come nearer the truth, if-instead of saying, men will be justified by their works, in part at least-if they were to say, “none but those who do good works will be saved,” we should agree with them exactly, because the Inspired Word of God says the same. It is what we say, in the first head of our discourse, that nothing but decided holiness is of any value in religion. We say, as a matter of doctrine, that no man will be saved from the wrath to come unless bis sins be pardoned through faith in Christ, “whose blood cleanseth from all sin ;" nor his person be justified except through the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is ibe truth-"He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be danned.” Without faith it is impossible a man can be pardoned, or
justified, and therefore saved. With faith any man may be saved ; without faith no man will be saved.
We say farther, wbile we teach faith, we teach works also. By the Holy Ghost's teaching, we learn from the mouth of the Apostle James, “Faith without works is dead, being alone." Where faith is, there works will be too. As soon may you expect to have coldness and darkness where the rays of the sun appear, as to bave no works where there is faith. Both must, and both will come together. As the tree may be known by its fruits, so, as saith our article, may faith be known by its works. We have nothing to say against works; it is the subject in hand, the very thing we are talking about-that men onght to do good works, and that men will be damned if they do not good works. But, at the same time, let them come in their proper place; Faith, first, as the means of salvation ; Works, next, as the proof of faith. We say that, and so saith the Scripture.
There seems, therefore, not the least hope of salvation to any man who is not living a life of holiness. It matters not what a man says he believes, if he does not lead a holy life, he is a dead sinner. It does not matter what he says about election, or justification, or sanctification, or any otber doctrine, if that man is not living a holy life, he is not a saved man, but he is still in his sins. My brethren, the Bible is the only acknowledged source of Divine teaching; and the same Bible that teaches the Antinomian that a man is saved by faith without works, ought to teach him also that if he has faith he hath works. The Bible is to be our guide, and nothing else. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to that Word, it is because there is no light in them." We do not want a church to come and interfere between us and God's inspired Word. Let the church do, as the Church of England does, take the Bible for its guide, and give all its teaching in subserviency and in submission to God's Word. We do not want a concurrent, or co-equal testimony from the church; nothing of the kind. We want God's Word set before us; and if it is to be expounded in any place, we wish it to be expounded in accordance with itself. Not one part set to contradict another, as sometimes is done not one part set to undermine another; but we wish the Bible, the whole Bible to be the foundation of our religion ; it is so in the Church of England. Our sixth article says:-"Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation : so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an Article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the Name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.” I wish every child in Eng. land knew the articles by heart; I wish every man and woman knew them. Now, we say that if a man professes to believe the Gospel, and does not live a holy life, he is either a fanatic or he is a hypocrite, he is either a liar or a fool. A fool you know is the Scripture word for an unconverted sinner. He either thinks that the way of salvation, and in that case he is deluded, and is a fool ; or he knows it is not, and pretends to think it is so, and in that case he is a hypocrite. I say the Bible is to be our guide. When you read the Bible, would you believe a man if he were to tell you that holiness is not to be the test of a Christian Suppose you were on board ship, under the guidance of one who professed to have a chart to the desired haven, what would you think of that man if, when the chart said east, he went west, or, if when the chart said north, he went south? What would you think of that man? One of these things : either this man does not want to go to the place which he is professing to seek, or he does not believe that chart, or else he is a madman. What else could you think? You could not think him honestly desiring to find the place, if he had confidence in the chart, and was in his right senses. Well, there is the picture of every man who, having the Bible in his hand, talks about faith saving him, and yet does not lead a holy life. The Bible is the Christian's chart. He is passing over the waves of this troublesome world, and he hopes to reach the haven of rest. The Bible says, there must be holiness as well as faith, not in order to salvation, but to prove that a man is saved.
Mark, it is not morality that I am speaking about; I am speaking of holinessa very large, comprehensive, full expression; it includes much that is negative, and much that is positive. Look here :-“Whoso forsaketh not father and mother, and hateth not his own life cannot be my disciple." "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” How strong these words are! I might pick out many more like them. Whose words are they? They are the words of Christ himself. See what he says. Religion, if it be