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in? Abused mercies slighted favors--worn-out patience-insulted justice, all cry "cut them down!" Ninevah, Tyre, Babylon, Sodom, Gomorrah, throughout all their ruins—the thousands who perished in the wilderness—spirits in the prison of hell—saintsand angels lift the voice of condemnation, “ Cut them down !" "cut them down !” The trampled blood of a despised Jesus crieth out for vengeance upon their guilty heads; whilst hell itself from be: neath is moved to meet them at their coming. Wherever they go the indignant eye of an incensed God is on them. Turn-in whatever direction they may, all is despair and utter dismay. Having . stepped aside from the only path to heaven, and refused to hear their only Savior, the decree is irrevocably gone forth to exclude them from the final rest. There is no hope for them.
Apply this subject then, my hearers; to yourselves. It is one which interests every one of us as much as it did the Jews of apostolic times. In the main, our circumstances do not differ materially from theirs. We have the same evils to avoid, and the same work to accomplish. The same arguments and exhortations apply to us both. If we pursue a similar course with them, the same consequences will most inevitably ensue. If rejecting the Savior placed them in a condition of utter hopelessness, ours shall be none the less awful from the repetition of the same crime. We have the same God to deal with, the same number of talents for which to account, and the same law by which we are to be judged. Have you then considered the Apostle of our profession? Have you canvassed well in your own minds his claims upon your faith and your obedience? Are you prepared by deliberate reflection, to dismiss him from your hearts and from your hopes? Have you suffered your thoughts to dwell upon his faithfulness--upon the reward which he promises to the believer—and upon the certainty and awfulness of the punishment attending a disregard of his commandments? Have you looked at his supremacy, and at his worthiness to your sincerest homage? Have you become members of his family by an humble obedience to his laivs, and reliance upon him for salvation ? Then in the language of the apostle,“ hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope unto the end.” Maintain a bold and open profession of the truths of the Gospel. Let your hope inspire you with courage and with joy, knowing that in due season you shall reap if you faint not. Let no false confidence that your salvation
is now accomplished prevent you from obtaining your reward. Ever remember that this world is the theatre of conflict, not repose. . Those unfortunate Hebrews who fell in the wilderness all started from Egypt with bright prospects and strong confidence; but having failed by the way, they were cut off from the promise. Rest not satisfied with your present attainments in holiness; but fix your steady gaze upon the crown, and fight until it is won.Never give over the struggle until your faith is changed to sight, and the sorrows of time give place to the bliss of eternity.
Probably however, you have never given your attention to sacred things—never submitted yourselves to the Lord Jesus—and never thought of relying upon him for salvation. “To-day then, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." From this moment determine to remain no longer insensible to the claims of God and your souls- no longer turn a deaf ear to the entreaties of the compassionate Jesus—and no longer slight his calls to penitence and holiness. Be careful—I beseech you, be careful how you deal with sacred things, or tamper with Jehovah. The voice of warning addresses you most solemnly from this subject. And admonished by friendship and the misfortunes of others, conclude at once lo turn your faces Zionward. Let this be the day-nay, the hour from which you shall hereafter date the beginning of the work of your redemption. Delay not; this is the time. The Bible says now—the Spirit says now—Jesus bending from the mercy-seat says now-each moment as it flits by you on rapid wing to eternity says now, nou, now! Do you only say now. Now give your hearts to God. Now let the heavenly stranger in. Now obey your Sayior's call. Now embrace the bleeding Lamb. And an eternity of rest, and love, and peace shall be your fadeless inheritance.
THE SIN OF UNBELIEF.
Heb. iii. 12—19. Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of un
belief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke : howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses, But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness ? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
In the last lecture your attention was called to the apostle's argument upon Christ's superiority to Moses, and to a few remarks growing out of it. In the words just read, the application of that argument and the train of reflections which it excited is still continued. We find here 1st an evil spoken of, and a direction given how to avoid it, and 3d, motive urged for attending to this direction. This will then be the proper order to be observed in studying the import and bearings of the text.
“ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."
Unbelief literally means, a want of confidence. Sometimes it is restricted to a want of confidence in the truth and sufficiency of the Gospel, or å want of trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation. In the case of the Jews alluded to in the text, it consisted in distrust in the verity of Divine promises. It had been declared by Moses, that the Lord had prepared and intended to give to his chosen people a land of rest, upon the conditions that they complied with his commandments. Of the truth and sincerity of these declarations they had the most ample evidences. But in the face of all those stupendous manifestations of Divine power attending their deliverance from the land of bondage, many murmured-distrusted--rebelled-and perished in the wilderness. The cause of their fall was unbelief.
In the present day may be enumerated three classes of unbelievers. The first class comprises all those persons who either parti
ally or entirely reject the Gospel as unworthy of serious attention. Here are to be ranked infidels, who disbelieve the truths of revelation altogether; Jews, who reject the Messiahship of Christ; and all who question the Deity of Christ-deny the atonement of Christ -associate human merit with the righteousness of Christ--or in any way trust to themselves and their own efforts for salvation. All these are represented in the Scriptures, and are to be regarded by us, as unbelievers who have no title to everlasting life.
Another and more numerous class embraces all those persons who give a kind of verbal assent to the truths of Christianity, but who do not consider to what they are assenting, or give themselves any concern as to whether they are influenced or not by the great truths which they apparently admit. The vast majority of those who live in christian countries have a sort of general belief in religion. According to their own way they believe the Gospel. They have no disposition to doubt its Divine authority. They give their assent to all the evidences on which it rests, and are ready to hurl back with indignation any charges of infidelity which might be brought against them. Their only, but their great deficiency is, that they do not embrace it with the proper warmth. They do not ponder its momentous teachings, nor yield obedience to its requirements. They coolly admit it to be the word of God and the only guide to substantial happiness, but manifest no concern as to wbat it contains, and never bring home its sublime doctrines with the urgency of personal application. They esteem religion well enough in its place, or for those disposėd to embrace it, but they are not impressed with the necessity of taking its obligations upon themselves, or of joining in the observance of its sacred rites. All such, though theoretical believers are practical infidels. They have no claim acknowledged by the Scriptures to the blessings of salvation.
A third class consists of such as not only assent to the general truths of revelation, but also profess their faith, assume all the obligations of religion, and go through the formal exercises of christian duty, yet live in constant and habitual indulgence in sin. Such maintain an external decency in the church, but have not the life of true christians. Some even go so far as to study the Bible, they almost speak the language of the holy book, but their conduct and private life come short both of its spirit and its letter. I refer now to hypocrites, formalists, and cold professors, who have a name to live but in reality are dead. Nor is this an inconsiderable class.
They are to be found all over christendom disgracing the church and scandalizing the religion of Jesus. They hang as clogging weights to the wheels of the chariot of the Gospel, and linger in putrid masses about every congregational altar. Whatever may be the pretensions of such, whatever may be their outward sanctimoniousness, they are as whited sepulchres full of corruption and rottenness. Their hearts are unbelieving.
Faith is that exercise of mind by which we warmly embrace the Savior in his several offices of prophet, priest, and king—that peaceful reclining of the soul upon the efficacy of Christ's mediation for salvation. It is something which cannot be induced by a mere mathematical demonstration. Argument can go no farther than to convince of Christ's Messiahship and of our duty to obey and trust him. Faith requires the exercise of will. It is an act of personal appropriation of the merits of Christ which commits us to obedience and makes him our Savior. If it depended upon conviction alone-a mere involuntary assent of the mind to truths which cannot be honestly denied, then we should have but few unbelievers. It is only occasionally that we meet with one so deeply debased as coolly to reject all revealed truth. The evidences which sustain the Divine authority of religion are mighty and overwhelming. The fulfillment of ancient prophecies respecting the genealogy, birth-place, and public life of its great founder—the artless, illiterate, and self-denying character of its first teachers the purity, comprehensiveness, and blessed tendency of the moral system which they taught—the miracles and wondrous prodigies wrought in confirmation of their authority—the perfect harmony of all their doctrines with the discovered laws of nature with various other facts and collateral considerations, urge home the truth with such resistless power as to render it impossible for any candid mind not to believe the Gospel. The giant intellects of such men as Bacon, Newton, Locke, and others who have moved the master wheels of science and philosophy, and whose works still remain to guide the onward march of mind, were made to bow in humble reverence to the truth as thus established and sustained. And but few, if any, who, with all their internal corruption and predisposition to infidelity, can honestly withhold their assent to the leading truths of revelation. Thus far nearly all believe. But a man can conveniently be brought to this point, and still have no affectionate reach