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bones waxed old through my roaring | to pass into a state of great dejection. all the day long: for day and night | He uses frequently then the lanzuage thy hand was heavy upon me." of the Psalmist. He will look back to
It is not so with you who have de those spiritual joys he once possessed; parted from God? Can then the the memory of which is so dear when things which you are pursuing deliver they have been once enjoyed, and you from perpetual uneasiness ? Nay, which he knows not how to recover. does not the fear of eternal wrath “ I remembered God, and was troubled. often break in still more severely on I complained and my spirit was overyour pleasure, and tell you, unless you whelmed." Then looking forward to turn to God, not only will the arrow's the future while dismal apprehensions of God some day or other fix deeply mix with that memory, he says, “Will on your consciences, but unless you | the Lord cast off for ever? and will he return, eternal ruin awaits you, that be favourable no more? Is his mercy awaits all that are found in the ways clean gone for ever? doth his promise of guilt and sin, and opposing their fail for evermore?" To his unhappy God and Saviour.
experience it seems so: his hopes have God rightly governs his people by been so often mocked, his efforts so fear or love. If they love him, their often failed, that he again and again relove casts out fear ; but if they cease news this language. “ Hath God forto love him, and follow vain things, gotten to be gracious ? hath he in fear must be the principle that is anger shut up his tender mercies?” brought into salutary exercise : Does my prayer no longer reach his can they retain their ease but must heaven? Has he departed finally? be restless and uneasy until they have Now, my brethren, that disquietude, found rest in the assured favour and that desponding state of mind is not love of a reconciled God in Christ. sanctifying. It has a strong tendency
The second point of instruction to turn the soul still further away which the prophet addressed to these from God. When there is this feeling trembling backsliders was, that THEY accompanied by genuine contrition
also, conjoined with faith, it does, inIN GOD, IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT deed, on many accounts, prove salu
“ Fear not, tary ; but if it comes alone, how can ye have done all this wickedness : yet such a one, discouraged, disconsoturn not aside from following the Lord late, and dreading the Divine Being, with all your heart.” When persons how can he return to him?
He canare surrounded by prosperity, and are not pray, because he dreads his prayer in health and spirits and vigour, no- will not be answered. He cannot mething is apt to alarm them. Perhaps, ditate, because he meditates on the if they are unconverted persons, they idea of an angry God, which is too can venture on any sin without alarm : painful to be dwelt upon. He cannot they can hear any menace from the delight in God, for God is not his God, word of God without being touched and Christ is not his Saviour; and he by it. The most solemn and affecting | looks upon him as a foe, and is obliged events of divine revelation cannot move to turn away his face from him. He their fears : they are incapable of fear : cannot act because he has little hope ; they say in their hearts, “We shall and he thinks he must still be encumnever be moved." This same evil bered with those tormenting temptastate of mind, it is very possible, a tions, the chains of which he has ribeliever may fall into. He also may vetted on his own soul; and he is say in his prosperity, "I never shall conscious he has been the cause of be moved,” forgetting, that by the fa- his own misery, temporal at least, vour of the Lord has his mountain eternal it may be. In such a state, been made strong.” But when a change when he is apprehending the fixed of things occurs, when he is laid on a frown of his heavenly Father, how bed of sickness, when he is bereaved can he return to him ; and when he is of his favourite enjoyments, when any dreading to be vanquished, how can thing fixes the arrow of conviction in he assault the foe? Replant hope in his heart, then he is exceedingly apt his disconsolate basom, and he is im
SHOULD HAVE A FILIAL CONFIDENCE
NOT DEPART FROM HIM.
mediately animated to return; and, / night? What manifestations of the therefore, the Prophet says, “Turn divine goodness he once saw shedding not aside from following the Lord, but their effulgence around him, and all serve the Lord with all your heart; | these he has forsaken.
A God so and turn ye not aside.” Well was it kind-a Saviour so perfect-prospects that he urged them to have confidence so enchanting, he has forgone them in God by which they might be in- all--and why? To prey on the miduced to return. Let them but con- serable substitute for satisfaction which fide in him.” “He is waiting to be a lying, cheating, miserable world will gracious."
be able to afford him. Yes, the While the prophet bids them to heavens may well themselves be called contide in God without apprehension, upon for surprize; for if that starry we must notice that this confidence host we see above our heads could be was not in the least built on any en- | animated with an immortal soul like deavour to efface the recollection of ours, there is not a star that twinkles their fault. It is never necessary that in them but would utter a groan at a backslider should endeavour to ex- such monstrous rebellion against God; tenuate his transgression ; on the con- there is not one which would not retrary, the very spirit of Christian con- fuse to shine or go out in darkness, solation more than any other, con- as though this rebellious world was sists in this, that it is consistent with unworthy to be shone upon by such the full view of truth. That consola- pure flames. My brethren, this, theretion that is built on falsehood is worth fore, should be fixed deeply in the little, but that which is consistent with mind of the backslider, but yet in cona full, calm, clear display of our own nection with filial confidence in the transgression against God, that is va- God to whom he is invited to return. luable indeed. Now this is what the It is a blessed thing when a backslider prophet urged on them ; he says, ye can believe all this, when he is penehave done all this wickedness, he trated with a view of his sins, and yet would not in the least make them feels sweet consolation in the certhink, that their sin on account of re- tainty that God is willing to receive jecting the sovereignty of God, was and bless him. trifling; he would have them fix their This leads us to the Third point of mind on its enormity ; and yet in the instruction addressed by the Prophet very view of that sin, confide in him to the people, namely, the GROUND as a God that would bless you.
So assuredly is it with the back- TO REST. “Turn ye not aside: for then slider. Oh, let him discover how should ye go after vain things, which great his sins have been ; let him re- cannot profit nor deliver, for they are member that the Lord himself, by his vain. For the Lord will not forsake prophet Jeremiah, speaking of his par- his people.” It is a blessed truth, ticular sin, calls on heaven to be deso- with which we are all familiar, that late at the cry, “ Be ye astonished, there is no extent of sin which can O ye heavens at this, and be horribly binder a free and full pardon to the afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the returning penitent. The least sin is Lord. For my people have com- damning while the soul remains immitted two evils : they have forsaken penitent; but if brought by the grace me the fountain of living waters, and of God sincerely to mourn over it, to hewed them out cisterns, broken cis- confess it truly, to cast it at the foot terns, that can hold no water.” Here of the cross, there is no more anger was their sin, that when they knew against the soul. The Lord will not what God had done for them, and forsake his son: he is ready to be what God was himself to them, they gracious to every backslider who recould prefer the miserable sources of turns: he is waiting to be gracious. joy which the ungodly world can fur- There is not to be found in the history nish. Let this basé ingratitude be of human forbearance and forgiveness fixed deeply in the heart of every back- any thing at all comparable to that slider. How much has he once known which is shown continually by a graof God? What sweet and blessed joys cious God to his offending servants. once visited him morning, noon, and “ Who is a God," saith the Prophet
UPON WHICH THEIR CONFIDENCE WAS
Micah, "like unto thee, that par- I like them have obtained the pardon of doneth iniquity, and passeth by the the Lord. What a marvellous list of transgression of the remnant of his sinners is spoken of in the sixth chapter heritage. What being can be found of the First epistle to the Corinthians, like him to pardon? Who has ever been “ Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, so insulted, so rebelled against; and yet nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor so freely, so fully, so willingly for- abusers of themselves with mankind, giveth—and why? “ He retaineth nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunknot his anger for ever, because he de- ards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, lighteth in mercy ?”
shall inherit the kingdom of God. The Lord delights to pardon all | And such were some of you : but ye those whom he can pardon justly. are washed, but ye are sanctified.” But as the merits of our Saviour's Is there any one here who has comcross are fully adequate to atone for mitted these detestable offences, comthe worst transgression, in the same mitted some of them, committed all of way, and to the same extent, that them, he is not worse than those parthey atone for the smallest; therefore, doned Corinthians of whom the Apostle the Lord can as easily pardon with speaks. “Such were some of you : justice, the worst offence, as he can but ye are washed, but ye are sanctithe smallest, the pardon being on the fied.” And if in heaven there are same grounds, and in the same way. some of these transgressors whose The least sin any one commits cannot robes were washed white on earth be forgiven except in this mode ; and by the blood of the Lamb, whose the greatest sin any one commits may spirits were washed clean by the inbe pardoned as easily by the free for fluence of God's grace, then, why giveness of this gracious God. He should not he who is most harassed delights in mercy; therefore let every by temptation, most beset by the vilest penitent backslider take this con- habits feel sure, that there is for him solation to his heart to-night, that a place among the sons of God, that if he returns to God, that if he only there is for him the blessing of the covesubmits and humbles himself, the Lord nant if he will but return to his ofdelights in forgiving him. He de- fended God? lights in forgiving me, may any back- And if this seem hard to believe, we slider here say, all my past offences- have then to bring forward the Fourth I have wandered far—I have sinned point of instruction, which is, The strangely-I am an abomination to
THE LORD THUS DEmyself-could my brethren see what
“For the is within me, they would abhor me as Lord will not forsake his people, for I abhor myself-the Lord sees it all, his great name's sake: because it hath and he delights to pardon. “ Who is pleased the Lord to make you his a God like unto thee, that pardoneth people.” He had chosen them from iniquity, and passeth by the trans- the tribes of the earth most freely gression of the remnant of his herit when there was no other cause than age? he retaineth not his anger for his sovereign pleasure, had brought ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” them into the relation of a favoured
Thus, my brethren, there is no sin people towards himself; had made however great which the backslider them his own, as distinguished from may not bring to God with perfect the other nations of the earth-then confidence that he will pardon and will he not be faithful to the people he forgive. Were it not so, how could hath chosen ? His glory was in a he have visited with mercy that faith. manner involved in their preservation, less disciple Peter : how could he have and this is an argument continually pardoned Solomon endowed so mar- used by the Prophet Moses, when he vellously in early youth, so blessed with urged on the Lord not to destroy heavenly wisdom, and yet he turned wholly his people, because he had unto idolatry, and built in the very made them his. But his by a much neighbourhood of the temple of Jeho- higher relation, his by a far richer purvah altars to the different idols which chase has he made believers in Christ, were around him? Yet they were for- and though they backslide from him, yet given freely ; aye, and many offenders will be never leave nor forsake them
“ for his great name's sake : because member this, that when after his worst it hath pleased the Lord to make them transgression he returns to God, the his people.” He chose them when they Lord Jesus, and not he, is honoured were in ignorance and rebellion, care- by the blessing he receives. It is the ful for nothing; when indulging in merits of the Saviour, and not his the most open and desperate rebellion, merits, which are regarded by God. he made them his. Will he then for. It is the covenant and the counsel of sake them when he sees any such peace between Him and his Almighty backsliders penitent at his footstool ? | Father, the covenant made with Him If any man is impenitent, whatever for sinners which is regarded ; and no has been his profession, that man blessing belongs, by necessity or right, has reason to apprehend that he will to the sinner who is prostrate before be cut off. But when the humble his throne. penitent, whatever has been his trans- But even the sinner has in one sense gression, kneels at the throne of grace acquired a right, even this backslider let him use this argument, “ The Lord guilty as he is, is still a child in diswill not forsake me for his great name's position as well as in his privileges ; sake.” He has chosen me when I was for though he has gone far from God, in a state of rebellion-he hath seen let him look into his experience, sad me humbled for my offences-he will though it be, and most humiliating, let bless me, and take me back to his him see whether he has ever lost wholly favour.
the spirit of a child. I dare to say, And how is it that the Lord's glory that as God is the same to him, so is is involved in the restoration of such he in reality the same towards Godtransgressors? Has he not made a he has offended him, but he is a child covenant with his dear Son, that he still. Did he ever wholly consent to shall build for him a temple of living his sin? Did he ever deliberately stones, a temple of believers in him ? and with full purpose of heart forsake Thus we read in the Prophet Zecha- the way of salvation ? Did he ever riah, “Even he shall build the temple cease, in all his wanderings, to approve of the Lord, and he shall bear the the righteous law of God even when it glory, and shall sit and rule upon his condemned him? Did he not always throne, and he shall be a priest upon love the way of salvation that God had his throne, and the counsel of peace provided for him ? Did he not even in shall be between them both”-be- his worst times lift his eyes often to tween him and his Almighty Father. heaven that he might recover the divine He shall be at once a priest and a favour he had lost ? Was there not king-a priest to offer up spiritual some yearnings in his heart towards sacrifices—a king to possess a spiri- the father he had forsaken? Yes, all tual kingdom-a priest and king at this, which the unconverted never once, bringing his people to himself knew, the real believer whenever he by the sacrifice he made for them. has backslidden farthest has always Thus shall he build the temple of the known. It is this that shows the coLord, and the counsel of peace shall be venant is not broken between him and between him and his Almighty Father. God; and God is, on his part, a father God, therefore, has made with him a still. Frown he will; he ought to covenant that he shall build a church to frown upon us when we offend against his praise ; and is it not for the glory him. It is right that we should be of the Saviour, therefore, when he chastised, that we should learn that blesses those whom the Redeemer has sin is an evil and a bitter thing; but brought to himself? If Christ has never has God forgotten to be gracious. placed a living stone in the temple The backslider who has learned this, which he is to build for God, what as all should learn this in coming back force on earth or in hell shall pluck to God, may submit to that parental that stone hence? It is placed there chastisement, may feel that it is the by Almighty love: it is fixed there by best thing that his heavenly parent Almighty fidelity, and never shall any could assign to him ; that it is better unforeseen calamities pluck it from its far than to be resting without it; and safety and its rest.
that if he still must wait for consolaLet the afflicted backslider then, re- tion, and if still many frowns of Providence should lower upon him, yet | question ; I am not addressing you on may he believe that all is in infinite a controverted, or a disputed topic. All compassion and divine wisdom; a feel- serious persons concur in this, that if ing far different from that dread which you go on in the world's rebellious alienates and takes us away from God. | wicked courses, whoever is saved, you The dread of punishment, the dread of cannot be. Do you not know it, my being cast away, alienates and takes us careless sinful hearers, do you not from God: the dread of siu, the dread know that in your present way of livof guilt, the dread of a father's frown, ing you must come to a wretched end ? when we see our father, thus humbles will you not turn now? Is there any us in the dust, and makes us value that better time than this to seek the favour infinite goodness, by which, again and and friendship of that God whose again, we are reclaimed, and which mercies are set before you? Do not will not let us finally fall away from let the dread of his righteous vengeance him. Thus do we see the instruction alienate vou any longer and make you afforded by these four points; and may wander farther. He is willing to be a gracious God impress them on the gracious to you. He is waiting to parheart of every backslider, and enable don the worst transgressor who may him to apply them to himself.
have found his way into this house of Take care, my brethren, that you prayer to night. And why? The do not pursue your course which tends
same reason may be adduced. Why to apostacy one step further. Be sure did he send his blessed Son if it were that you let not fear alienate you not to reclaim such offenders as you? from God. Be sure that you fix in for “the Lord Jesus Christ came to seek your mind this blessed truth, that and to save that which was lost;” and the Lord is willing to forgive the more than “ lost” it is impossible for greatest, yea, delights in forgiving any of us to be. O, then believe, that he the greatest sinner, as he forgives is willing to pardon you freely, and do the least. Remember that his own not dwell on that miserable and deglory is involved in blessing those structive self-righteousness, that hope whom he has chosen freely, whom he of rendering yourselves more worthy has brought to the Saviour, and to of the divine favour to which you cling whom by converting grace is given after long instruction received from the filial dispositions as well as filial pri- word of God. vileges.
If you will not listen-if there are But if this passage addresses, most worldly and sinful persons here who particularly, those who are brought in know that their course is such that it the relation of children to God, it is must needs be punished, if any are full of instruction for the most careless punished—if you turn away from that sinners too ; and I do beseech any ir- gracious God, I ask you, and seriously religious persons who may be here, I beg you to answer that question to any who are convinced that their your own consciences, are you not own lives cannot be called religious, convinced, that you will richly deserve who cannot think that if they are to whatever miseries your ungodly courses he saved through any mode peculiar to shall eventually bring on you? The the Scriptures, they have found that Lord has declared in the chapter from mode--for there is little which they do which our text is taken, “ If ye shall not share in common with the heathen, still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, except, perhaps, gross idolatry—if there both ye and your king.” Is not this be any such sinners here, let them se- true in every case ? If you will go on riously weigh this passage, for every in the way, that God disapproves, must point of it addresses them in one appli- not those habits lead to your destruccation, as it also most properly ad- tion? Whatever may be the means or dresses backsliders,
Let them also grace you enjoy, whatever may be the remember that they must not pursue hopes you entertain, whatever invitatheir ungodly courses any further, that tions are made to you, so long as you if they would be happy in all the bles- go on in any way of sin, you must be sings of the new covenant, it must be destroyed, no matter what the world's by turning to God.
judgment respecting your sin may be. On this subject there can be no Whoever lives in any known sin,