Page images
PDF
EPUB

able proof. Nor has the character of the world altered in this respect. There are multitudes yet, who are ready to raise the cry, “away with Him: away with Him: crucify Him. We have no king but Cæsar.” We will acknowledge no supremacy over us, but that of the government.

1. How evincive of enmity are the thoughts and wishés of wicked men in reference to God! How they dislike holiness! They would much rather that God were not so holy. Indeed, they are not to be persuaded, that He is that awfully just, and holy being, which many declare

lim to be. They would have been much more at ease, if He had not spoken, in such decided terms, against selfish and sinful indulgences. They would have been gratified, if He had never commanded them to lead a holy life, to take up their cross, to deny themselves, and to crucify their affections and lusts.

If God could look with indifference upon their conduct, and allow them to lye and curse, and swear and profane His Sabbath, and gratify their malicious, and lascivious, fraudulent, and avaricious desires, they could love Him: but as it is they do not like to retain God in their knowledge.” The God whom they prefer, must let them do as they please; but as for that Holy and Just One, who will damn them eternally, unless they repent, and lead a holy life, they cannot love Him. Such a being they cor· dially hate, and they manifest that hatred, by their abuse of those ministers, and that preaching, which exhibit the holiness and justice of the divine character, and the immutability of His law. Whatever love of God they think they have, it is not of the true and living God; but of an ideal being, one whom they suppose to be God, not of Him who has so solemnly asseverated, “ Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will re

1. John xix, 15.

prove thee, and set (thy sins) in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."1

2. The same thing is also evident, from wicked men's dislike of the word of God, and of those ministers, and professors of religion who are most pungent, and faithful in urging that word upon their consciences. What a task is it for unrenewed men to read the Bible! They dislike to learn that they must be born again,” and love God with all their heart; that they must repent of their sins, and abstain from EVERY appearance of evil. They would much rather, have had a Bible, that would have left their ambition, and covetousness and lusts, and appetites, free from all restraint: that would have said nothing about holiness, nor been so "uncharitable," as' to consign to Hell, all that do not cordially believe on Jesus Christ. If they are at any times, forced to take it into their handsunless that, as men of taste and curiosity; they consult it for its poetry and history--they approach it with as much reluctance, as does the poor slave of superstition, the spot which he has heard is visited by some departed spirit. There is nothing cordial or voluntary in their consultation of its pages.

And, as for that sort of preaching which presses home its truths upon their consciences, they cannot endure it. The ministers of Christ that preach in this style they detest. Gladly would they tarnish their reputation; or excite such suspicions; foment such prejudices, and magnify any such pretext as might neutralize their influence. Their hearts rise up in opposition to those that bring the light into their dark minds, and probing their consciences, make them see, and feel, that they are guilty and accursed in the sight of God. “Every one,” saith the blessed

1. Psalm, 1, 21, 22.

Saviour, “that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God." There is in fact, no class of men, so cordially despised, and hated, by impenitent sinners; and none whose characters they seek more earnestly to vilify and destroy. The whole tribe of blasphemers, liars, drunkards, unclean wretches, and fraudulent persons, receive not half the abuse, nor are half so cordially detested as are the faithful ministers of Christ, who testify against men's sins, and call upon them to REPENT, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. But with such, the blessed Saviour hath identified himself, declaring whoso despiseth you, despiseth me.

3. To these facts, innumerable others might be added, evincive of the same thing, that men are, by nature, enemies of God. We advert to their dislike of serious and fervent prayer, and of religious meditation and conversation. The theatre and ball room, the novel and the play, attract attention, and furnish delight. But nothing in their eyes can be more sickening or disgusting, than a prayer meeting. The exercise of prayer, has nothing attractive to the impenitent sinner. He may read, or recite, or frame a prayer, to keep his conscience at ease, or to relieve the burden of his self-reproach; but the going forth of the heart to God, in secret unrestrained delighted communion with Him, is a thing to which they are utter strangers. No altar is reared in their house. No morning and evening incense is offered at the domestic shrine. The closet is unfrequented. The public prayers of the church are tedious, and the minister who transgresses for fifteen or twenty minutes, in this delightful employment, is sure lo receive censure, and be pronounced a pharisee, or accu

1

sed of having, by such conduct disgusted them with religion, and prevented them, perhaps, from frequenting the house of God. To meet, in some retired spot, for the purpose of social prayer, and spend an hour in christian conference, in the estimation of many, betokens derangement or weakness of mind, or infatuation.

The avocations of business, the interests of the family, and a thousand other things are accounted of far more importance with many;

and they are never at a loss for some excuse, in withdrawing from the fellowship of the saints. “Behold, what a weariness is it,” are they ready to exclaim. Few things seem half so fatiguing and disgusting as the dull monotony of some simple honest soul, that pours out its prayers and praises to God. And why so?-how could there be such aversion from prayer and religious exercises, if the heart was not averse from God !

Prayer ardent opens Heaven, lets down a stream,
Of glory on the consecrated hour

of man, in audience with the Diety. Assuredly if there was not a cordial aversion from Ilim, on the part of men, prayer would minister to their delight. It is their hatred of God and of divine things, that makes religious worship so irksome and disgusting, especially where there is nothing in the outward forms, attractive, or imposing to sense. Why clse, if they did not hate God, would they be so ready to raise the cry of fanaticism and enthusiasm, against those whose hearts are imbued with the spirit of prayer, and whose spiritual conversation shew that they feel the truth and force of what they profess to believe? Why else, would it be, that God is not in all their thoughts?—That they find no delight in the meditating on the glories of his being, and the truths of His word? Why else would their business, their pleasures, their friends, their houses, their lands, their funds, their families, anything and every thing but God, and his Christ, find such a welcome place in their hearts? Why else, should the lustful song, the lewd lascivious jest, and ribaldrous profanity, be more pleasing than a conversation about the state of their souls? Why else should the blessed Jesus stand knocking and pleading in vain to gain admisssion to their hearts? Why else should they reject such a friend, disobey the solemn command of God, take part with all their sins against a dying Saviour, give the lie direct to a God of truth, and crucify afresh the Lord of glory? Ah sinner, the secret is told against you. It can be concealed no longer. Jesus saith of a wicked and impenitent world, “ME IT HATETH.” This resolves all the mystery of your conduct, and this it is which creates all the obstacles in the way of your conversion. Charge not your impenitence on any constitutional depravity, wrought into the substance of your being-nor lay the blame of your rebellion upon the purpose and agency of God. Your sin and depravity lie at your own door. The world and its joys hold your hearts. You bestow on them your affections, purposes and cares, and they are sinking you deeper and deeper in the pit of perdition. You have commenced an inquitous course. Unless you repent, and give to God the thoughts, and affections, and cares, which you now bestow upon the world, cternity shall but sink you deeper and deeper in crime:

Beneath the lowest deep, a lower deep,
Still threatening to devour you, opens wide.

It is in the character of your own mental acts, and exercises, that you are to trace the proofs and workings of your own depravity. As to any thing which lies back of these things, as it is impervious to human view, imperceptible by human sense, beyond the sphere of consciousness, and ut. terly incapable of being subjected to investigation or anal

« PreviousContinue »