Abbildungen der Seite

worldly men of integrity? They discover the same worldly propensities, are bent on gain, seek after honours, and, as they prosper, indulge themselves more and more in ease and in worldly modes of living. They converse like the men of the world, adopt their maxims, apparently are influenced by their principles, and assimilated to them in their whole deportment. This deportment is indeed, externally, strictly correct. No blame can be attached to their moral character : but we look in vain for their Christian virtues. Some thus act from fear, others from a mistaken policy; some from a culpable pliancy of temper, others from actual seduction, being surprized into an abandonment of their peculiar duties. Let the reason, however, be what it may, they give just cause to gainsayers to say, “ These “ persons, notwithstanding their high preten“sions to sanctity, love the world as much “ as we do, and seek the things which are in “ it after our manner, and with an avidity

“ equal to ours.” They conduct themselves | as if the practice of the Gospel virtues was

a burden, as if the service of God was wearisome to them,


CONTROVERSY [ser. Iv. Thirdly, When the professed people of God go to the utmost verge of lawful worldly enjoyments, as if hankering after those which are unlawful, they manifest a weariness in his service.

Although they are commanded to deny themselves, and mortify their members which are on earth, yet God has granted unto them the sanctified use of his creatures for their happiness. In these, however, unfortunately they too often seek their chief pleasure, instead of seeking it in him, and in obedience to his most perfect will. Thus they act like the children of Israel in the wilderness, who, when they had manna from heaven for food, lusted after the flesh-pots of Egypt. Forgetting that many things, though lawful, are not expedient at all times, and under all circumstances, they convert their liberty into a plea for indulging in them, further than prudence or propriety will admit. Hence worldly pleasures, innocent in their nature, become criminal in their hands by their abuse of them. This prepares the way for their participation in such as are condemnable in their nature. They first go to the utmost verge-to the extreme boun

dary of those which are lawful; then tamper and dally with those which are doubtful ; casting, in the mean while, a wishful, longing eye upon those that are improper and ruinous, until their offensiveness wears away from the mind, and they become familiar to conscience; when, finally, these professing Christians yield to the temptation which they themselves have invited, and to which by their imprudence they have given resistless power. Soon their example is urged by others, in defence of vain amusements, of sinful chance games, of immoral sports, of feasts where God is not known, and where the operation of his hands is disregarded. What is such conduct but a practical declaration, that they have become disgusted with the ways of the Lord ; that they are weary of his service? · Fourthly, When the professing people of God murmur or fret under adverse providences, they act as if they were weary of his service. .

That consists in suffering as well as doing his will. The statute law of his kingdom in the world is, that through much tribulation we must enter into glory. The

experience of his saints approves this, and with one voice declares, It is good for them to be afflicted. Against this, corrupt nature enters her protest, and would, if possible, make us believe it is unjust, and unnecessary, and cruel. By the aid of Satan and the world, she too frequently prevails, so far as to excite discontent and disaffection towards the government of God, in those who ought to say, under all circumstances, “ The Lord “ reigneth, let the earth rejoice.” What he does, is according to that plan which, with infinite wisdom, he devised in eternity. No one event, however trifling, happens by chance, but by the will of God. Whatever then befals his people, must be just, holy, and good, because a part of his determined counsel and purpose. If they suffer, he has seen fit to apportion out to them that lot ; it is no new thing, no contingency; it is the eternal will of their heavenly Father. To be dissatisfied with affliction, is to be dissatisfied with the government of God: to murmur under its smarts, is to murmur against infinite perfection. The language of such conduct is, “ God ought not to reign ; “ he does not act justly; afflictions are im

“ properly dispensed.” How shocking is this to every person who has any serious impressions of the truth! Truly they who are impatient under the divine rebukes, who are willing to receive good from the Lord, but not to receive evil, act as if they were weary of God's service. They do so,

· Fifthly and lastly, When they relax their diligence in the cause of God in the world ; when they make no attempts, or very feeble ones, to break down the kingdom of Satan ; to arrest ungodly sinners in their mad career; to spread the savour of Christ's name in the circle of their friends; to assist in sending his precious Gospel to the heathen who walk in darkness, and dwell in the land of the shadow of death. | Such are some of the principal ways in which the professing people of God manifest a weariness in his service. They thus bring practical objections against the perfections of God's nature, against the excellency of his law, the wisdom and equity of his providence. These objections he is ready to meet. He challenges his people to substantiate them. “ Testify against me,” he says. And well he may; for such conduct as they display

« ZurückWeiter »