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the particulars are numberless. The character agrees either,
1. To sin, that is, to sinsul ways, courses, or practices. And while there is a God in heaven to avenge the affront, no man shall mend his condition in this way. You will not, indeed, want an invitation to turn aside, and go in at this door; but know for a certain that it will ruin you, for "the dead are there, and her guests are in the depths of hell," Prov. ix. 18. Sin is the way in which you will never sind rest to your fouls; on the contrary, it will produce a sting to your conscience, a constant restlessness to your heart, and eternal ruin to the whole man, if mercy recover you not, and bring you back to God.—Or the .character agrees,
2. To the creature, to which, when men are turning aside from God,theyturn to seek their happiness. This comprehends all created comsorts whatsoever. Of them we have two things to say.
(i.) They are all uncertain, a person can never get a sure hold of them: Prov. xxiii. 5. "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings, they flee away as an eagle towards heaven." Unchangeableness is an essential property of that which makes truly happy and sully satissies, for otherwise the very sear of losing the thing mars the sull rest of the heart in it. But where is this to be found but in God? The creature is so uncertain, that there is not one moment in which we may not either be taken from it, or it from us; so that a person may rest as well on the top of a wheel, as on any creature. And turning aside from God to it, is burning from the fountain to a cistern, which, in that very moment when a person goes to drink out of it, may run dry.
- (2.) They are utterly insufsicient. It is not in them to answer the cravings of the human heart, of an immortal foul. Hence it is said, Isa. lv. 2. "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satissieth not?" [1.] There is no suitableness in them to the foul, for they are not commensurate to the desires- of it; Cod only is so, being an insinite good. Wherefore, wherever you goto make your bed among them, you will sind it shorter than you can stretch yourself upon. [2.] They have no divine appointment for that end, without which grass would be no more satisfying to the slocks than sand. God has kept the satisfying of the foul to himself, as his peculiar prerogative.— Therefore the turning aside to such emptiness can.
never make a man happy Here, however, may
be stated this
Objection,. What! does not every body know; that there is a goodness in the creature? Answer, But every body should likewrse know that it is uncertain and insufsicient, and. therefore not worth the turning aside to from a good God. Besides, know this sarther, that no creature can be to thee more than this God, from whom thou turnest aside, makes it to be. . So thou mayest get it, and at.the same time there may come a withering curse with it,- that thou ihalt sind no more sap in it than Haman in his riches, samily, honours, which, by his own consession, availed him nothing, Esther, v. 13. Yea, thy ruin may rise from it, as Achan's from the golden. wedge.
Secondly, For evincing the truth of this weighty point, consider what a person turns aside from, when turning aside from God. He turns from an upmaking portion; Psal. huiii. 25. "Whom
'have have I in heaven but thee? and there is none uptm earth that I desire besides thee." Cleave to the Lord, turn not aside from him: For,
1. Thou art enriched for time": i Tim. iv. 8. "Godliness is prositable unto all things, having the promise of the lise that now is, and of that which is to come." The everlasting covenant secures all that thou needest. Thy provision is sure: Psal. xxxvii. 3. "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be sed." Isa. xxxiii. 16. "He shall dwell on high, his place of desence shall be the munition of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure." Thou shalt not want lodging: Psal. xc. 1. "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in nil generations." Fear not want of cloathing: Matth. vi. 30. "For if God fo cloathe the grass of the sield, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more cloathe you, O ye cf little saith?" What want ye more, then? Why, some would have land also. Then cleave to Christ as thy Lord and Husband. He is Lord cf all the land in the world; the earth lhall be thine in the right of thy Husband: Mat. v. 5. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." But what will a person do for money? Why, cleave to the Lord: Job, xxii. 24. 25. "Then shalt thou lay up gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. Yea, the Almighty shall be thy desence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver."—Here some may propose this
Objection, These are sine words, but what will they bring into our mouth, or on our back, what will they bring into the coffers? Answer, They are God's words, and his words are better than all the world's good deeds. Some to whom God
has has no special love, he gives them their portion in their hand, and sets them off; others, who are his dear children, he gives them the good words of a promise, and keeps them at home with himself. Say now, which of these have the best of it? The following words determine it: Matth. xxv. 34. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right-hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." God approves not of those men who say to the needy, "Depart in peace, be ye warmed, and be ye silled; notwithstanding, they give them not those things which are needsul to the body," Jam. ii. 16. And will He himself treat his people so? No, no. Many a saint has trusted to these words, when they had nothing else to trust to, and they have all been made out to them: Psal. xxxiv. 8. 9. "O taste and see that the Lord is good! blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O sear the Lord, ye his saints! for there is no want to them that fear him." The unbeliever's mistake is, that God's bond cannot be paid, but in giving the very thing itself. Even this is often done, but he also gives his people more frequently what is as good. Moses, wanting meat forty days, had no reason to complain, when God in those days took away his stomach, and satissied him otherwise than by meat. Adam lived well when the heavens were the roof of his house, and God was his God. And the enjoyment of God still will abundantly compensate the want of all these things.
2. Cleave unto the Lord, turn not aside from him, and thus thou art enriched for eternity, 1 Tim. iv. 8. quoted above. Come death when it will, what then? thou shalt be carried where thy happiness shall be completed: John, xiv. 2. " In my
Father's Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you." The law cannot debar thee from this happiness, it is satissied; justice has nothing to say against thee, for the debt is paid: God is thy God; and the tongue of men, nor of angels, cannot sully express this privilege.
Thirdly, The truth of this weighty point in the text will sarther appear, by inspecting the pretended gain which is acquired by turning aside from the Lord. —It may all be summed up in these two particulars.
1. It is nothing: Prov. xxiii. 5. (quoted above). All the gain is but children's gain, which they have won off their sellows, of which grown persons make no account; and as little will a spiritual heart account of gain got by turning aside from the Lord. It is a poor trade where a person is not gaining for his soul; and no person will gain for this by turning aside from God.
2. It is worse than nothing. "Whatsoever thou thinkest thou gainest by turning aside from the Lord, a thousand times more is going to destruction in the mean time. Count what thou givest out, as well as what thou gettest in, and thou wilt "soon see the gain worse than nothing: Matth. xvi.
26. "For what is a man prosited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own foul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his foul?"
From all which it is evident, that no man shall - better his condition, but ruin it, by turning aside from the Lord, let him turn to what hand soever he will.—I now proceed,
III. To make some improvement of this subject, in an use of information. — Hence,