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son, his locks shorn, his strength gone, and the Lord departed from him. He may preach on, month by month, and year by year, with the approbation of the multitude, and almost worshiped by the crowd that flock to hear him, while, all the time, Satan, the great and wily Philistine, may be binding him and his hearers with cords of iron, to make them grind in the prison-house of despair.
If my voice could reach the ears of my brethren in the ministry, I would with all affection and tenderness ask :-Is it thus with any of you? Has the power of thy ministry gone, and art thou wondring at the cause ? Perhaps, brother! the Lord, thy life, has withdrawn his Spirit from thee, and thou knowest it not. If so, it is no wonder that thy preaching is so barren—that thou thyself
, though speaking “with the tongues of men and of angels," art “ become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Remember, Lord! the sons of Aaron, and, Oh! take not thy Holy Spirit from them!
Is it a child of God that is thus deserted ? Little does he think, perhaps, of the calamity that has befallen him. Like the lion of the tribe of Dan, he may say, “ I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself,” but he is not as he was before. He seeks his closet, and bows the knee in prayer; but he prays not as he did, nor with the fervor and sweetness and importunity of forme days. The power of prayer is gone. It is mere lip-service. H goes to his Bible, he turns to the melting tale of “Christ and his crucified;" he reads,—but he might almost as well have close the book before he began to read. He neither takes the sense, remembers what he has read. It is gone from him. His heart not in it. His heart is elsewhere. He becomes uneasy, restle and impatient. He is easily fretted. He is often betrayed i sinful passion. He speaks even to some of his best friends as o out of humor. Every thing goes wrong. Every thing is out joint. Nothing suits him. Nothing succeeds with him as forme He goes from ordinance to ordinance, from church to chu from denomination to denomination, but gains no advantage, 1 no relief. Or if any at all,
"'T is but a poor relief he gaios,
To change his place, and keep his pains." He finds fault with his minister, his elders or deacons, his fe Christians, “ the church,”-of all but himself. His soul lan es, his gifts and graces wither, and all the symptoms of a sp consumption are upon him. His religion becomes a cold forn dreary, comfortless and desolate.
All this while, it may be, he knows not what ails him. H ders that he is not as he once was-that he feels not the sa terest in the social meetings of the church, in the spiritual rity of his family and friends and fellow-Christians. Is it tl
thee, ey brotber? Have I described thy caneLuckz poor Sarsotgoing out as before, but alone, unattender as sbte Hc Oae. Is it not thine own condition? W poze las! thar as one should continue in it! The 760.45 JE TA8 200 azn the Lord is departed from him! Le grar" poor backsuier to lay it to heart
, and to cry with Da, aura into me the joys of thy salvation." I la incoarertet sinner that is thus deserted:
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common atters of ion of the the faith, rosses, to h penance tified, and in baptism read in the Protestants verence the receive it, as aled to the und left them way, with no isconceptions alves to sit in le corrections ity in Christ, for sin in the generation by vil, no hell, no
used the means of grace, has put himself in the way of God's blessing, as he thinks, and wonders at his own stupidity. He rouses himself anew to make another effort for securing his soul's salvation, and says,—“I will go out as at other times before, and stir myself up ;" but alas! he finds that he is not now as he was before. He is bound in fetters of brass, and his power is gone. And why? He delayed repentance; he refused to obey the voice of the Lord in “ the accepted time,” he grieved the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is gone. The poor man is left to himself, and he wists not that the Lord is departed from him!” Woeful case, indeed !
indeed! But, my impenitent hearer! is it not your own ? I tremble for
should be this most unhappy state. I pray God that you may never know what it is to be cast entirely away from his presence. Fellow-sinner! I am in great heaviness on your account. I fear that you have thus grieved the blessed Spirit, and put away from you the day of grace. Do you tell me, that you will seek the Lord again, at least on a dyingbed? Do you fancy that your locks will then be grown again, and that you will then have power to burst the bonds of sin and death? Yes, indeed! if you are one of God's dear children. But if not, you have no such encouragement. There is not a single promise to meet your case.
The Lord has departed, and, perhaps, never to return. Then, if he returns not, if he answer not when
you call, if he turn a deaf ear to your intreaty,—then, alas !—and I tremble to record it, my heart bleeds at the very thought,—then the Philistine will bind you in fetters of adamant ; then he will mock your dying agonies, and make sport with your cries and your groans in in the world of woe for ever!
Oh! that I could prevail upon you now to receive the Spirit—to listen to his voice—to welcome him to your heart! That Delilah who has so long beguiled you, and kept you from the Lord, will be your ruin, if you suffer her to put you to sleep, if you listen to her, and not to the Holy Spirit. Break away from the syren.Lose not, I beseech you, your precious soul. I would persuade you, if I can, (and may God help me to prevail with you,) to give all up for Christ, before I leave you. When next we meet, it may be at the judgment-seat. The Lord prepare us now to pass that solemn test, and bring us to see his face in glory.
NOV 20 1907
5 8, 9135 STABILITY IN THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, “Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines." —Heb. xiii. 9. The Gospel was early corrupted with doctrines uncongenial to its nature. While the Apostles were yet living, false teachers insinuated themselves into the churches planted by their care. Judaizing teachers persuaded the disciples that they must be circumcised and obey the law of Moses, or their faith would not save them. It was with particular reference to their teachings, as the subsequent part of the chapter shows, that the Apostle addressed to his brethren of the Hebrews, the exhortation which I have now read. This particular form of doctrine has passed away; but others have taken its place; so that always and everywhere, the exhortation is pertinent; and more especially in this free inquiry, and consequent diversity of religious doctrine.
The duty inculcated is that of stability in the Christian faith : —which it will be my object now to enforce.
“Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines." The allusion is to ships at sea. Like these driven by contrary winds are unestablished minds under the influence of “diverse and strange doctrines." They say you must be circumcised or you cannot be saved. They tell you that you must observe the fasts and feasts of the Jewish ritual or you are heretics and schismatics; without the pale of the church and the blessings of the covenant. Do not hearken to them. You see the effect on those who do. They are tossed to and fro as vessels in a storm. They are driven out of their course and threatened with destruction. They are in doubt as to the truth of what they had believed ; they profess now one thing and now another; and some at last "make shipwreck of the faith and a good conscience.”
The doctrines referred to are described as being “ diverse and strange,"-diverse, as they are inconsistent with each otherand strange, as they are inconsistent with the Gospel-unknown VOL. XIX.-No. iv.
or not received by the church of Christ and its accredited teachers--strange doctrines, as persons coming from a foreign land are strange persons. This is the explanation suggested by the preceding verses. “Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,” that is, the termination of their manner of life—their departure out of this world into the future. The reference probably is to Stephen,James,and perhaps,other holy and inspired men who had been their Christian teachers, and whose martyrdom must have left a deep impression on them. The Apostle would have them adhere to the faith which those men embraced, and which sustained them soʻ honorably in their course of life and carried them so triumphantly above the dread of a cruel and ignominious death, "Jesus Christ,” he adds, “the same yesterday, to day and for ever.” always able, always willing to sustain those who repose themselves on him ; intimating that their faith should in like manner be the same, firmly resting on Him as their eternal rock. Be not carried about with doctrines inconsistent alike with the faith of your spiritual guides and the simplicity of your trust in the Redeemer.
The same explanation is suggested by the words immediately following—"It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." The Gospel is a scheme of grace. By this it is distinguished from every false scheme. Whatever doctrines deny, conceal, or frustrate the grace of God in the salvation of his people—his grace in their effectual calling by the working of his power--his grace in their justification through the redemption of Christ—his
grace in their preservation by his indwelling Spirit unto eternal life ; his grace in their election, before the foundation of the world, as the source of all the blessings of their salvation ; are diverse and strange. It is therefore" good," approved of God, and for the peace and salvation of the soul, “ that the heart be established " in a firm reliance on the grace of God, as here revealed, and not a distinction of meats as clean or unclean, according to an abrogated ritual.
I. That we be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines, then, it is requisite, in the first place, that we take the word of God for the standard of our faith. It is our blessed privilege, my brethren, as it was of the Hebrews to whom Paul wrote, that to us, the Apostles of the Lord, whom he sent into all the world in his name to preach the Gospel to every creature, with the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, have spoken the word of God; whose faith therefore we are to follow. In the writings of the New Testament, which they, by the good providence of God have given to us, and in the