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ticularly profitable to our souls. These we are commanded to "love fervently;" yet still “ with a pure heart.” But is not this “impossible with man ?" To retain the strength and tenderness of affection, and yet, without any stain to the soul, with unspotted purity? I do not mean only unspotted by lust. I know, this is possible. I know a person may have an unutterable affection for another, without any desire of this kind. But is it without idolatry? Is it not loving the creature more than the Creator ? Is it not putting a man or woman in the place of God? Giving them your heart ? Let this be carefully considered, even by those whor God has joined together; by husbands and wives, parents and children. It cannot be denied, that these ought to love one another tenderly: they are commanded so to do. But they are neither commanded, nor permitted, to love one another idolatrously. Yet how common is this! How frequently is a husband, a wife, a child, put in the place of God! How many that are accounted good Christians, fix their affections on each other, so as to leave no place for God! They seek their happiness in the creature, not in the Creator. truly say to the other,
“ 'I view thee, lord and end of my desires." That is, “I desire nothing more but thee! Thou art the thing that I long for! All my desire is unto thee, and unto the remembrance of thy name.” Now, if this is not flat idolatry, I cannot tell what is.
II. Having largely considered, what those idols are, of which the apostle speaks, I come now to inquire, (which may be done more briefly,) how we may keep ourselves from them?
1. In order to this, I would advise you, first, Be deeply convinced that none of them bring happiness; that no thing, no person under the sun, no, nor the amassment of all together, can give any solid, satisfactory happiness to any child of man. The world, itself, the giddy, thoughtless world, ack:iowledge this unawares, while they allow, nay, vehemently maintain, no man upon earth is contented." same observation was made near two thousand years ago :
Nemo quam sibi sortem
To man, yet none on earth contentei live. And if ro man upon earth is contented, it is certain, no man 15 happy. For whatever station we are in, discontent is incompatible with happiness.
2. Indeed not only the giddy, but the thinking part of the world, allow, that no man is contented: the melancholy proofs of which we see on every side, in high and low, rich and poor. And, generally, the more understanding they have, the more discontented they are. For,
“They know with more distinction to complain,
And have superior sense in feeling pain." It is true, every one has (to use the cant term of the day, and an excellent one it is) his hobby horse! Something that pleases the great boy for a few hours or days, and wherein he hopes to be happy. But though
" Hope blooms eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest.”
Still he is walking in a vain shadow, which will soon vanish away! So that universal experience, both our own, and that of all our friends and acquaintance, clearly proves, that as God made our hearts for himself, so they cannot rest till they rest in him : that till we acquaint ourselves with him, we cannot be at peace. As “ a scorner” of the wisdom of God, “ seeketh wisdom and findeth it not;' so a scorner of happiness in God, seeketh happiness, but findeth none.
3. When you are thoroughly convinced of this, I advise you, secondly, Stand and consider what you are about. Will you be a fool and a madman all your days? Is it not high time to come to your senses ? At length, awake out of sleep, and shake yourself from the dust! Break loose from this miserable idolatry, and“ choose the better part !" Steadily resolve, to seek happiness where it may be found; where it cannot be sought in vain. Resolve to seek it in the true God, the fountain of all blessedness! And cut off all delay. Straightway put in execution what you have resolved ! Seeing “all things are ready,” acquaint thyself now with him, and be at peace.”
4. But do not either resolve or attempt to execute your resolution, trusting in your own strength. If you do, you will be utterly foiled. You are not able to contend with the evil world, much less with your own evil heart; and least of all, with the powers of darkness. Cry, therefore, to the Strong for strength. Under a deep sense of your own weakness and helplessness, trust thou in the Lord Jehovah, in whom is everlasting strength. I advise you to cry to him for repentance in particular, not only for a full consciousness of your own impotence, but for a piercing sense of the exceeding guilt, baseness, and madness of the idolatry that has long swallowed you up. Cry for a thorough knowledge of yourself; of all your sinfulness and guiltiness. Pray that you may be fully discovered to yourself: that you may know yourself as
you are known. When once you are possessed of this genuine conviction, all your idols will lose their charms. And you will wonder how you could so long lean upon those broken reeds, which had so often sunk under you. 5. What should you ask for next?
“ Jesus, now I have lost my all,
Let me upon thy bosom fall!"
“Now stand in all thy wounds confest,
And wrap me in thy crimson vost !" Hast thou not said, " If thou canst believe, thou shalt see the glory of God ?” Lord, I would believe! Help thou mine unbelief. And help me now! Help me now to enter into the rest that remainech for the people of God. For those who give thee their heart, their whole heart Who receive thee as their God, and their all. Oh thou that art fairer than the children of men, full of grace are thy lips! Speak that I may see thee! And as the shadows flee before the sun, so let all my
idols vanish at thy presence!
6. From the moment that you begin to experience this, fight the good fight of faith ; take the kingdom of heaven by violence! Take it as it were by storm! Deny yourself every pleasure that you are not divinely conscious brings you nearer to God. Take up your cross daily: egard no pain, if it lies in your way to him. If you are called thereto
scruple not to pluck out the right eye, and to cast it from you. Nothing is impossible to him that believeth: you can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth you. Do valiantly; and stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free. Yea, go on in his name, and in the power of his inight, till you “know all that love of God that passeth knowledge:" and then you have only to wait till he shail call you into his everlasting kingdom !
SERMON LXXXIV.- On Dissipation.
“ This I speak1 Cor. vii, 35.
-that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction,"
1. Almost in every part of our nation, more especially in the large and populous towns, we hear a general complaint, among sensible per sons, of the still increasing dissipation. It is observed to diffuse itself more and more, in the court, the city, and the country. From the continual mention which is made of this, and the continual declamations against it, one would naturally imagine that a word so commonly used was perfectly understood. Yet it may be doubted whether it be or no. Nay, we may very safely affirm, that few of those who frequently use the term, understand what it means. One reason of this is, that although the thing has been long among us, especially since the time of king Charles the second, (one of the most dissipated mortals that ever breathe ed,) yet the word is not of long standing. It was hardly heard of fifty years ago; and not much before the present reign. So lately has it been imported : and yet it is so in every one's mouth, that it is already worn threadbare ; being one of the cant words of the day.
2. Another reason why it is so little understood, may be, that among the numberles3 writers that swarm about us, there is not one (at least whom I have seen) that has published so much as a sixpenny pamphlet concerning it. We have, indeed, one short essay upon the subject : but exceeding few have seen it, as it stands in the midst of a volume of essays, the author of which is little known in the world.
And even this is so far from going to the bottom of the subject, that it oniy slightly glances over it; and does not so much as give us one definition of dissipation, (which I looked narrowly for,) from the beginning to the end.
3. We are accustomed to speak of dissipation, as having respect chiely, if not wholly, to the outward behaviour ; to the manner of life. But it is within, before it appears without : it is in the heart, before it is seen in the outward conversation. There must be a dissipated spirit, before there is a dissipated manner of life. Bui what is dissipation of spirit! This is the first and the grand inquiry
4. God created all things for himself; more especially all intelligent spirits. (And indeed it seems that intelligence, in some kind or degree, is inseparable from spiritual beings; that intelligence is as essential to spirits, as extension is to matter.) He made those more directly for himself, to know, love, and enjoy him. As the sun is the centre of thie solar system, so (as far as we may compare material things with spiritual) we need not scruple to affirm, that God is the centre of spirits. And as long as they are united to him, created spirits are at rest : they
are at rest so long, and no longer, as they "attend upon the Lord without distraction."
5. This expression of the apostle, (not to encumber ourselves at present with the particular occasion of his speaking.it,) is exceeding peculiar και προς το ευπροσεδρον τω Κυριω. Τhe word which we render, attend upon, literally means, sitting in a good posture for hearing. And therein St. Paul undoubtedly alluded to Mary sitting at the Naster's feet, Luke x, 40. Meantime, Martha was cumbered, with much serving; was distracted, dissipated; Pisa Taro. It is the very expression, from whence St. Paul takes the word which we render, without distraction.
6. And even as much serving dissipated the thoughts of Martha, and distracted her from attending to her Lord's words, so a thousand things which daily occur, are apt to dissipate our thoughts, and distract us from attending to his voice, who is continually speaking to our hearts; I mean, to all that listen to his voice. We are encompassed on all sides with persons and things that tend to draw us from our centre. Indeed every creature, if we are not continually on our guard, will draw us from our Creator. The whole visible world, all we see, hear, or touch, all the objects either of our senses or understanding, have a tendency to dissipate our thoughts from the invisible world, and to distract our minds from attending to him, who is both the Author and End of our being.
7. This is the more easily done, because we are all by nature a si, Atheists in the world : and that in so high a degree, that it requires no less than almighty power to counteract that tendency to dissipation, which is in every human spirit, and restore the capacity of attending to God, and fixing itself on him. For this cannot be done till we are new creatures ; till we are created anew in Christ Jesus; till the same power which made the world, make us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us."
8. But who is he that is thus renewed ? He that believeth in the name of the Son of God. He alone that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ, is thus “ born of God.” It is by this faith alone, that he is "created anew in (or through] Christ Jesus ;" that he is restored to the image of God, wherein he was created, and again centred in God; or, as the apostle expresses it, “joined to the Lord in one spirit.” Yet even then the believer may find in himself, the remains of that car. nal mind, that natural tendency to rest in created good, to acquiesce in visible things, which, without continual care, will press down his soul, and draw him from his Creator. Herein the world, the men that know not God, will never fail to join ; at some times, with design, and at other times, perhaps, without design : for their very spirit is infectious, and insensibly changes ours into its own likeness. And we may well be assured, the prince of this world, the devil, will assist them with all his might. He will labour with all his strength, and what is far more dangerous, with all his subtlety, if, by any means, he may draw us away from our simplicity towards Christ: from our simple adherence to him; from our union with him ; through whom we are also united in one spirit to the Father.
9. But nothing is more certain than this: That though he may tempt the strongest believer to give up his simplicity towards Christ, and scatter his thoughts and desires among worldly objects; yet he cannot
force even the weakest : for the grace of God is still sufficient for him. The same grace which at first united him to God, is able to continue that happy union, in spite of all the rage, and all the strength, and all the subtlety of the enemy. God has never left himself without witness, that he has power to deliver them that trust in him, as out of every temptation that can assault them, so out of this in particular. He has still a little flock, who do, in fact, “attend upon him without distraction :” who, cleaving to him with full purpose, are not dissipated from him, no, not for a moment; but "rejoice evermore, pray without eeasing, and in every thing give thanks."
10. But so far as any one yields to this temptation, so far he is dissipated. The original word properly signifies to disperse, or scatter. So the sun dissipates, that is, scatters the clouds; the wind dissipates, or scatters the dust; and, by an easy metaphor, our thoughts are said to be dissipated, when they are irregularly scattered up and down. In fike manner, our desires are dissipated, when they are unhinged from God, their proper centre, and scattered to and fro among the poor, perishing, unsatisfying things of the world. And, indeed, it may be said of every man that is a stranger to the grace of God, that all his passions are dissipated :
“ Scattered over all the earth abroad,
Immeasurably far from God.” 11. Distraction, in St. Paul's sense, is nearly a!lied to, or rather the same with dissipation : consequently, to attend upon the Lord without distraction, is the same as to attend upon the Lord without dissipation. But whenever the mind is unhinged from God, it is so far dissipated or distracted. Dissipation then, in general, may be defined, the uncentering the soul from God. And whatever uncentres the mind from God does properly dissipate us.
12. Hence we may easily learn, what is the proper direct meaning of that common expression, a dissipated man. He is a man that is separated from God; that is disunited from his centre: whether this be occasioned by hurry of business, by seeking honour or preferment, or by fondness for diversions, for silly pleasures so called ; or for any trifle under the sun. The vulgar, it is true, commonly confine this character to those who are violently attached to women, gaming, drinking; to dancing, balls, races, or the poor childish diversion of “ run. ning foxes and hares out of breath." But it equally belongs to the serious fool, who forgets God, by a close attention to any worldly em ployment, suppose it were of the most elegant, or of the most important kind. A man may be as much dissipated from God, by the study of the mathematics or astronomy, as by fondness for cards or hounds. Whoever is habitually inattentive to the presence and will of his Creator, he is a dissipated man.
13. Hence we may likewise learn, that a dissipated life is not barely that of a powdered beau, of a petit maitre, a gamester, a woman hunter, a play house hunter, a fox hunter, or a shatterbrain of any kind; but the life of an honourable statesman, a gentleman, or a merchant, that is “ without God in the world.” Agreeably to this, a dissipated age, (such as is the present, perhaps beyond all tnat e rer were, at least, that are recorded in history,) is an age wherein Goil is generally forgotten. And u dissipated nation, (such as England is at present, in a Vol. II.