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are content that it should be overthrown: and will be seen farther as a prevailing, a but if deities like these, or of any other constitutional, a besetting, and a most kind, will take a different form, or bear abhorrent ein. For, ah! who hath never another name; if they will take our level, yielded that love, fear, duty, fidelity, preand first stoop, that they may rise, and ference, zeal, and confidence to someserve, that they may henceforth govern; thing earthly, which heaven alone should “ Ephraim, that silly dove,” falls into claim? Shall we, dare we, prevaricato the net of the skilful fowler, and gives with Ephraim, and say, respecting this, them all they ask. Admitted once into “ I am pure from sin ?" the human heart, that temple of the Deity, Ephraim is joined to idols !” and how soon, “when sitting in the place of true it is of many, whether called Israel. God,” are they “worshipped as God !" ites or Christians, in this and every place. Obtaining the citadel, who ever dreams Far be it from us to contend for the seof dispossessing of his stronghold him clusion of the hermit, the rigours of the who ever is to us a strong man armed, anchorite, the superstition of the scribe, or and who keeps his prisoners in what may the formality of the Pharisee. be termed a state of peace, though slum- not at all disposed to be cynical ousbering on destruction's brink ? a peace selves, in principle or practice; weknow, resulting from the absence of thought, too, it is forbidden us to be censorious as the torpor of feeling, and the assistance to the peculiarities and failings of others; received from his auxiliary, the world; and least of all would it become any and which arises from the delusion of its preacher of the gospel to abuse his liberty promises, the delirium of its dreams, the of preaching it, by hurling the thunder of intoxication of its pleasures, and the in- his anathemas on the land in which he is fatuation of its pursuits.
not a subject, but only a stranger priviWithout entering at present into any leged; but no supposed, though mistaken detail as to these several objects to the tenderness to others should render him sight, offerings to the sense, and opiates indifferent or treacherous to his trust. to the mind, it may be sufficient to re- We must be faithful to you, my brethren, mark that, generally speaking, idolatry and to ourselves, though here; ard reis represented in Scripture as being member that we cannot, dare not sink, two-fold, it being outward and inter- commute, transfer, or even lessen, benal, public and retired; and that it does cause we are here, one particle due to our not consist chiefly in acts of religious ho- heavenly King, any more than that we mage. Whether in open or private devo- owe to our earthly sovereign. Reside tion, we are sure that there are idols in we where we may, we are not less Brithe heart; there may be also idols in our tish. Why then, or how, can we be less families, idols in our houses, we had al- Christian ? “We cannot go where God most said idols in our churches; all is not;" and whoever reigns, “we have which are neither of wood, nor iron, nor another king, one Jesus.” Suffer me, brass, nor stone; there are found, too, then, my fellow-christians, and my felidols in our legitimate callings, permit- low-subjects, to ask of you this day, ted relaxations, and enjoyed pursuits. In Who is on the Lord's side, who ?" a word, “ loving and serving” the crea- Whose harness have you girded on, and ture more than the Creator is idolatry, whom is it you serve? Can any thing whatever be the object on which that su- be more palpable (we repeat it) than that 'premacy is placed, and that preference be the multiti follow evil,” or any thing shown. Hence covetousness and sensu- more plain than that we are forbidden so ality (Eph. v. 5. Phil. iii. 19) are classed to do? In proof, what are the societies under the degrading term equally with in which our countrymen, (answering in the genuflection of the body, or the more the text to Ephraim,) yea, so many of abject prostration of the superior faculty them are enrolled? Who are the perof mind.
sons with whom they more intimately It is, then, a present and existing evil, | associate, and where are the places in
which they feel themselves most delight- jest idolatry which either distinguished, ed and at home? We speak not now of Greece, or disgraced Rome, would be. any spot distinguished from the rest : it more acceptable to thousands than the does not become us to select “ Chorazin, pure and self-denying doctrines of the Bethsaida, or Capernaum;" but we might gospel. For though we find no employsay of these, and we may assert of every ment for Demetrius and his craftsmen to metropolis especially, be its meridian that polish the “ silver shrines of the goddess of Judea, or London, or Paris, or Rome, Diana," have we no agents to whom this what a prelate of our own church (Bishop kind of traffic may refer? What, though Watson) observed, (and the thunders of no fanes arise to Jupiter Olympus, nor a Bossuet, and the tears of a Fenelon, do any seek shelter beneath the ægis of would have attended him,) that “every Minerva; yet if we find men saying “ to such great city is the hot-bed of vice, the work of their hands, ye are our and the sepulchre of virtue; the grave of gods;" if we see them turning with disthe noblest feelings, civil, moral, and re- gust from the Scriptural embassage of ligious.”
peace, and scarcely troubling themselves And who, standing on some eminence, to frame an excuse from attending the and but noticing the heat and turmoil of marriage supper of the Lamb;' if they the day, and not least on this most holy | will openly profess they discern no beauday, ordained to be the Christian's rest; ty in the graces of the Spirit, and discowhose spirit but must be “ stirred up,' ver no melody in the praises of Zion; if as was St. Paul's at Athens, at seeing there be contempt poured on all Chrisplaces so populous, so elegant, so exalt- tian mysteries, and they who so strive or ed, so renowned, and sometimes so high- serve are considered as hypocrites, or bi. ly favoured too, almost “ wholly given to gots, or fanatics, or fools, then can we idolatry !" And equally, perhaps, in the doubt that those very men who now drink sight of the omniscient Being with those in the very spirit, adopt the very terms, who erected an altar to the unknown God, and pursue the very vices by which paor to Israel of old, when they “joined ganism was distinguished, would be themselves to Baal Peor, and ate the among the first to agonize for the garland meat-offerings of the dead !"
in the Isthmian games, to seek advice “Ephraim is joined to idols ;” and it is from the Pythian oracle, to water anew the both a natural and captivating sin; we laurels of the god of war, and to listen mean by it one which falls in so easily entranced to the lyre of Apollo? with our inbred and corrupt propensities “ Ephraim is joined to idols ;” and this -"the evil heart of unbelief, and that so is itself a besetting sin, especially in a readily departeth from the living God.” strange and foreign land. In ancient Evidences of what this abomination that times we read that the “sons of God” maketh desolate really is, have been al- were ensnared by “the daughters of the ready given ; we only add, ourselves will land” through which they passed; as, in afford further proof of the witchcraft and after-date, many were “ beguiled by those stubbornness of idolatry, whenever we enchantresses of Midian;" and is there not become at all unchristianized, and un reason to fear that there are those (prochristianized we are if, forgetting our fessed Christians too) who in like manbaptismal vow to "renounce the devil ner " have made shipwreck of faith," and all his works, the pomps and vani- and yielded here to those temptations ties of this wicked wo ld, and all the sin- which heretofore they had the fortitude ful lusts of the flesh," either here or in to resist? Not so much that the temptaany other place, we live not according to tions were really greater, but because the gospel, but forsake the God of our the restraints were fewer, and former fathers, and the sanctuary of our God. assistances were distant and removed. In fact, by so doing, men are already pre- And, ah! (to the younger part of my aupared for every evil work; nor can it, we ditory I more directly address myself) think, be a question but that the gross- if any of you should here throw up the
reins on the neck of your impetuous de- with “the sickness that destroyeth at sires, how bitter will be the regret, even noonday,” gorging even the voracity of should any discipline hereafter reclaim death, and more than peopling" the you! But the more usual result is, that house appointed for all living;" and for the bank being broken down, the inunda- this war hath also depopulated their tion follows, and that you will proceed crowded cities, and desolated the once “adding iniquity to sin!" Thus, if fertile plains, while pale famine, in its Ephraim be joined to idols, after their rear, hath exterminated the small residue idols they will go. So that neither mer- of what “these locusts had spared." cies vouchsafed, nor blessings manifold, All these things happened unto them benor vengeance threatened, nor visitations cause He was wroth; and they were, as dire, nor heights of exaltation, nor low- the psalmist expresses it, “the blasting est depths of wo, have ever aroused them of the breath of his hot displeasure." from their fatal slumber, dissolved the And when these " woes are past," say enchantment on their senses, or burst the ye with the uplifted trumpets, and the fetters on their mind! Rather have not full-charged vials of the Almighty's such shut to the door of their prison-house wrath, (Rev. viii. 2 ; xvi. 1,) is there yet (or, as a late high-priest of fashion more " another wo to come ?" Supposing all elegantly rendered it,* “ have drawn up your visitations over; is it possible for the blinds of their carriage, and deter- us to conceive any thing to exceed the mined to sleep the remainder of the jour- visible and felt judgments of an almighty ney") the better to shroud themselves God? Yes! there is, as to its ultimate in darkness, and shield themselves from effect, a “sorer punishment for sin," a interruptions? or, having "eaten and sadder proof of righteous indignation, and drank, and rose up to play,” have they something more, perhaps, to be deprenot taken “the sackbut and psaltery, and cated than the heaviest inflictions of his sackbut and flute," and issued forth with hand. And what is that? It is the closmodern arts or “antique pomp and pa- ing of his heart, the saying, “Do not geantry,” that, as “at Tophet of old,” strike, alarm, or threaten; chastise him the melody of the strains may overpower not; give him not over into the will of the cries of the expiring victim, and the his enemies; but give him up (which is splendour of the drapery may conceal the worse) give him up to his own heart's deformity of the image.
lusts, and to follow his own desires ;" “ Ephraim is joined to idols ;" and it is give him up to himself. “ Ephraim is a most horrible and destructive sin! All joined to idols : LET HIM ALONE !" sin, indeed, is abhorrent and dangerous; We shall notice, but this has of all others the heaviest II. The JUDGMENT upon Ephraim, or sentence, as it has the least excuse; so the PUNISHMENT of his crime. that the inflictions upon Ephraim for this
is In its primary signification, the text is, one thing form a continued commentary perhaps, to be understood as an admoniof this truth. For this the divine arrows tion to Judah not to hold any familiar have so often been sent abroad; for this intercourse with idolatrous and backslidthe firm earth hath been shaken to its ing Israel, similar to the injunction of centre, hath opened her mouth, and such our Lord to his disciples, respecting the numbers of its inhabitants have gone scribes and Pharisees in his day—“Let down quick into hell, wickedness being them alone; they be blind leaders of the among them; for this “ the floods have blind," &c. lift up their voice, the floods have lift up But it is of most importance to contheir waves," and overwhelmed those who sider the words (what, in fact, they thought they stood beyond its highest eventually proved to be) as a sentence of mark; for this “the pestilence hath osten dereliction, and which still hangs over walked in darkness," and hand in hand this once highly favoured nation. God * Lord Chesterfield. Vide his Letters, ad
hath left them alone, and with an hitherto finem.
impenetrable " veil upon their hearts,"
for a long night, now approaching to Angels! let him alone.
Stand no near two thousand years. As a people longer “in the path of this son of Bozor, they have “dwelt alone, and not been who so loveth the wages of unrighteousnumbered among the nations:" tribes of ness." Let not his foot be crushed “ the wandering foot and weary breast," against the wall, but let him reap the ye have no country, no place to call your harvest that he soweth. Let him pro home! Yet, O Israel, though “thy house ceed " as the ox to the slaughter,” and as be left unto thee desolate," gross as is the fool to the correction of the stocks; thy ignorance, inveterate as is thy pre- let his way be dark and slippery, and let judice, incurable as seems thy blindness, his steps take hold on hell. stubborn as is thy pride, and invincible And thus those sacred watchers heard, thine unbelief, yet thou, even thou, “ wilt and answered, and obeyed, who had not be left alone for ever :" there is hope hitherto attended in the temple at Jeruin thy latter end, and great shall be the salem. The historian of the Jews relates, peace, and high will be the privilege of that a little before its final overthrow by all thy children!
Titus, and while the priests were minisTo ourselves, however, as we are show- tering, who “by night stood in the house ing, the subject has an aspect, and the of the Lord,” that at that solemn midthreatening has a voice no less than to night hour, strange voices were heard the Jews. For, notwithstanding, and within the holiest place, when no forms considered as a nation, so far from leaving were seen, and where no human agency us alone, it cannot be forbidden us to might enter. And that they said, “ Let think or say, God hath not dealt so with us go hence !” intimating that now their any other nation ; sometimes indeed, dis- angelic guard was fled, and Ichabod, ciplining us by afflictions, but far more their glory, was departed." generally following us with mercies, and Providences ! let him alone. Adverse “ drawing us by the cords of love.” Yet and afflictive as ye are esteemed when from these very circumstances, if we often “kind heralds sent in love," ye feel inclined to strengthen ourselves in a shall no longer call him “in the day of false security, we shall but bring upon adversity to consider.” Break not upon ourselves increased punishment, as the the slumber of his soul; let him no more added culture of the vineyard of the Lord be scared by visions, nor disquieted by of hosts appears to be the assigned cause dreams; let no terrors make him afraid, why “its hedge also should be broken nor corrections make him humble, nor down,” and why “the clouds" from disappointments keep him safe. Let him above were forbidden to communicate alone to pull down his barns and build their invigorating influences. (Isaiah v. greater, and interrupt him not in the re3–6.)
quiem he is singing to his soul. Let him LET HIM ALONE! The phrase is evi- alone to "prosper upon the earth, and dently elliptical, and leaves something to gain riches in possession." Let him be supplied. It is addressed to some one alone to riot by day in the palaces of or more, but to whom expressly is not luxury, and repose at night in the pavilion said. It is spoken to intelligences we do of magnificence. Let him alone to “ crown not see, and it is heard and attended to, himself with rose-buds, and chant to the probably, by those of whom we have no sound of the viol, and boast himself, that knowledge-invisible agencies and un- to-morrow shall be as this day, and yet earthly forms! Suppose we stand amidst more abundant." the hallowed circle and obedient hosts, and Ministers of the sanctuary! let him notice only such as we either know or alone. “ Moses and Aaron among his have been instructed to consider or perso- priests, and Samuel among his prophets." nify as the instruments of the Almighty's And to you it hath been so spokenpurpose, hearkening to the word, and “ Pharaoh's heart is hardened;" thereaccomplishing all his will and pleasure ? fore ye may say to him at your last interSuppose it said,
view, “ Thou hast well (or truly) said ; VOL. 1.-54
2 N 2
for I will see thy face no more." And things.” Even for a season we find, that again, “ How long wilt thou mourn for the heart of David, lately so tender, trouSaul, seeing I have rejected him from be- bled and smote him when he offered the ing king of Israel? And Samuel came least indignity to the worthless Saul, no more to see Saul until the day of his only because he had been the Lord's death!”
anointed, now, “ let him alone” for many And though with the prophet, they months under those complicated crimes, cannot cease to mourn for “the ungodly," the remembrance of which so embittered and (not having received an injunction so the remainder of his days. particular and express) we must continue Many other characters or agencies to warn the unruly, to reprove the disobe- might be introduced, had not our time dient, to resist the gainsaying, no less been already much exceeded ; such as afthan to invite the unworthy, and entreat fectionate friends, pious relatives, honoureven the rebellious; yet if the holy and able feelings, &c. We only add, and it blessed Spirit of God shall cease to strive may include the means of grace, with man through these appointed means; Ordinances ! let him alone. Ye mounif God himself deny his aid, though the tains of Zion, and whither the tribes go arrows of conviction should still continue up to worship, and thou little hill Herto be discharged in a rich profusion, and mon or Mizar among the rest, be ye the sword of the Spirit be wielded, and henceforth to this hypocrite in heart as we should still cry, the sword of the the mountains of Gilboa, on which there Lord and Gideon, these weapons will not shall be no dew. Or when it shall copienter between the joints of the harness, ously descend on others, let it be to him as nor penetrate the shield of the mighty! what Gideon saw, that his fleece continues The trumpet of our jubilee may not cease dry! Let the fruitful land become a to sound, but the captive will not be wilderness, and to him let the well of salawakened from his slumber, nor leap to vation be without water, and the cloud lose his chains! The alarm in Zion may that returns have neither refreshment nor still be heard, and the wind that shall rain! Need we seek for instances to shake the mountains, and the fire that illustrate this? We refer, once for all, can rend the rocks, may attend it; but if and beyond all this, to the head-astound. the Lord be not in these, oh, who shall ing and heart-appalling malediction on the make the sinner tremble; what shall sacrifices of Doeg and of Judas—" And bring him from his cave, and covered let his prayer be turned into sin." Ps. with his own confusion," as with a man- cix. 7. tle?
And now, my Christian brethren, with. Especially, when, under circumstances out enlarging further, you cannot, melike these, we suppose the interdiction to thinks, but come to this conclusion, that, be addressed to what is put within the what some seem to have been labouring for man as well as what stands without the all their lives, and others venture only to citadel; for we conceive it spoken, too, desire (for it is the secret wish of many a to what has been aptly termed God's heart) is, that in some way or other, they vicegerent in the breast. It has been could sin decently and yet with more impusaid,
nity; proceed to greater lengths, with feeConscience! let him alone. And the bler checks and fewer fears; that, instead deputy hath heard, and answered, and of this being a consummation devoutly to acquiesced. It hath retired from its be wished, we have proved it to be the post
, it hath demolished its reverberating most dreadful calamity that could possiecho, it hath lost its former voice. Thus bly befall them; and, to adopt the strikFelix found conscience let him alone; for ing words of a modern author, it may often as he heard, it should seem that he eventually be "worse than instant death trembled only once.
and an immediate hell, because the longer Or, like another deputy, henceforth it life, the longer sin; and the longer is “a Gallio, caring for none of these course of sin, the heavier curse!” And