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gone forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach, has thus cut off his own retreat; he renders it impossible to consult his earthly interests at the expense of piety, without bringing upon himself all the reproaches of his conscience, the ridicule of unbelievers, and the contempt of his companions and of mankind.
Let all young persons, then, bind themselves with the vows of God, and unite themselves to those whom God has touched by his Spirit, and is guiding, under the convoy of the Captain of Salvation, to eternal glory. The church will willingly receive all such as are desirous of uniting themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant, and will say, as Moses did to Hobab : “ Come with us, and we will do you good; we are going to the land of which the Lord our God hath said, I will give it you.”* Are you linked in with society from which you find it difficult to break ? Change your place of abode, make a sacrifice of worldly convenience, nay, relinquish some of the tendernesses of life for the purpose of securing your safety : there is no place so dangerous, none from which you ought to flee with so much rapidity, as that which is the seat of contagion, where, enlinked with vicious associates, you cannot remain without being in the way to perpetuate your confederacy with sinners. Flee from such a place; as you would not “ walk in the counsel of the ungodly;" stand not " in the way of sinners,” lest you
“ sit down in the seat of the scorners." Flee,
* Numb. x. 29.
then, as for your life. These, you know, are different stages in depravity, different degrees of progress in corruption; walking “ in the counsel of the ungodly” is the first; he who does that will next “ stand in the way of sinners,” and that is a ready and proper preparation for sitting down “ in the seat of the scornful.”* Do you wish not to be ashamed of Christ before men ? Go into society which shall not tempt you to that shame; seek those associates before whom you may, without a blush, lift up your heads and avow your attachment to a once crucified, but now glorified, Redeemer.
Let it be remembered, that with those with whom you voluntarily associate here, you shall be associated hereafter by the disposer of all things, for ever: with those persons with whom you choose to spend your time, you must spend your eternity; these are inseparably allied. Those who choose the society of the vicious, those who keep company with the enemies of God in this world by choice and election, will have their portions with such in the regions of everlasting darkness. Eternity is pressing on: ask yourselves, then, with whom would you wish to be associated when the voice of the archangel and the trump of God shall proclaim that “ there shall be time no longer." With whom would you choose to rise ? With whom would you have your everlasting portion ? With patriarchs and prophets? With evangelists and apostles ? With saints and martyrs now shining forth in the glories of celestial radiance ? or with those who, having slighted the warnings and despised the mercies of the Lord, must assuredly “ awake to shame and everlasting contempt."* There are but two societies in the universe, the church and the world; the servants of God and the servants of Satan; the votaries of time and the votaries of eternity: they are each of them claiming your regard, and saying to ingenuous youth, “ Come with us,” and holding out their respective allurements and attractions. One presents “the pleasures of sin for a season,” to be followed by bitter remorse and everlasting despair; the other, the prize of immortality, the society of saints, calm of conscience, quiet of mind, the peace of a self-approving spirit, consolation unutterable, and that only as the earnest of the pleasures to be enjoyed at the right hand of God; that fulness of joy which is for evermore.
* Psalm i. 1.
Recollect, time is pressing on, and we shall soon be that which we shall continue to be for ever. Do not say, I will remain a little longer in the society of wicked persons, I will loiter a little longer in the pursuit of sin, and sensual gratification, in the neglect of God and religion. While you are halting, God may decide for you; he has no sympathy with hesitation, but looks with contempt and abhorrence on the infatuation, and wretched folly and guilt of that mind which prefers the applause of the world, the pleasures of sin, and the gratification of a moment, to the “ exceeding and eternal weight” of his favour and friendship. He has no sympathy with such persons, he abhors them; at least, they are exercising his patience every day. Despise not, then, " the riches of his goodness and long-suffering,” lest, while you are halting between two opinions, God should lift up his hand “ and swear that you shall not see his rest.” “ To-day,” then, I say, to-day, “ if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness."*
* Dan. xii. 3.
Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, “ for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial ? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ?”¥ For you are the temple of the living God, if you are Christians; and to be such I trust every one here is aspiring, as He hath said, “I will dwell with them and walk in them, and I will bless them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Therefore, “ come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord; touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Most High God.”I
* Psalm xcv. 7,
+ 2 Cor. vi. 14-16. I 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.
THE EVILS OF IDOLATRY, AND THE MEANS OF
[PREACHED AT BRISTOL, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE
MISSIONS, NOVEMBER 2, 1826.]
Isaiah i. 18.—“ The idols He shall utterly abolish.” The progress of Christianity in the world has already been so great and wonderful, as to carry evidence of its divine original, and of its promised final triumph over every false religion. Its vast effects have been produced principally by the simple instrument of preaching its doctrines, attended by the promised influence of the Holy Spirit. The same instrument, attended by the same influence, may be reasonably expected to effect the ultimate conversion of all the nations. This most desirable object we are on the present occasion assembled to promote.
It is agreed by expositors, that, in the connexion of the text, the success of the gospel is predicted :—as a remarkable feature by which its success would be distinguished, the destruction of idolatry is mentioned in the words I have selected; in which two things are proposed to our attention; the evil to be abolished, and the means of its abolition.
I. The evil to be abolished. This, as you will observe, is idolatry. It has been commonly and very properly distinguished as of two kinds, literal
* Printed from the notes of the Rev. Thomas Grinfield.