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gouse from whence I came out; and when : Which then of these states will you take? he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and What is your answer? garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with Shall it be the language of the convinced, himself seven other spirits more wicked than penitent, returning Israelites, spoken of by himself, and they enter in and dwell there : the prophet; “Behold, we come unto thee; and the last state of that man is worse than for thou art the Lord our God. Truly in vain the first. Even so shall it be also unto this is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from wicked generation. For it is impossible for the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord those who were once enlightened, and have our God is the salvation of Israel.” ( that tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made this were indeed your reply! To whom can partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted you go but unto him: he has the words of the good word of God, and the powers of the eternal life. He is able, he is willing—to world to come, if they shall fall away, to pardon, to renew, to satisfy, to delight-to renew them again unto repentance; seeing bless you “with all spiritual blessings in heathey crucify to themselves the Son of God venly places in Christ." afresh, and put him to an open shame." Or will you say, with the rebels among Thirdly : however this may be though they the Jews, who, when admonished, “Withhover between truth and error, holiness and hold thy foot from being unshod, and thy sin, the world and the church, heaven and throat from thirst,” said, “There is no hope: hell, through life-this will not be the case no: for I have loved strangers, and after them in death. They will then be developed, and will I go." Ah! think again. Listen not to have their portion with the vile and the pro- the dictates of despair_ There is hope in fligate; with swearers, drunkards, thieves, Israel concerning this thing”-“Come and and murderers; with the devil and his angels. let us reason together, saith the Lærd; though
Ah! says the Saviour to the Laodiceans, your sins were as scarlet, they shall be white “ I know thy works, that thou art neither as snow; though they were red like crimson, cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or they shall be as wool.” The bridge is not yet hot So then because thou art lukewarm, drawn. The door is not yet shut. Think and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee again. Will you turn your back upon such out of my mouth." And yet, oh! how he an opening of deliverance? Can you mean waits to be gracious, and is exalted to what you say? Are you resolved to follow have mercy! Yet, even these characters, your idols, and to forsake the God of love? hateful as their state is, and sure, if continu- How shocking, how dreadful to bid farewell ed in, to bring upon them the utmost destruc- to God! tion, he does not treat with neglect-but Or will you take a middle course, and, counsels them-" Because thou sayest, I am neither actually complying or refusing, say rich, and increased with goods, and have need to the man who importunes you, with Felix; of nothing; and knowest not that thou art“ Go thy way for this time, when I have a wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, convenient season I will call for thee." But and naked : I counsel thee to buy of me gold we cannot admit of this reply; it is evasion, tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; Our commission requires an immediate deand white raiment, that thou mayest be termination: “ To-day, if ye will hear his clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness voice, harden not your hearts.” And does do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with not your safety require the same? Boast not eye-salve, that thou mayest see." I cannot, thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not therefore, conclude without endeavouring, what a day may bring forth. Now is the ac
III. TO BRING YOU TO A DECISION. I there- cepted time; now is the day of salvation." fore address you in the language of Joshua, How long have some of you hesitated already! “Choose you this day whom you will serve:" How wonderful is it that God has borne with or in the words of Elijah, “ How long halt you to this day, when he might justly have ye between two opinions ? if the Lord be God, considered your excuses and delays, ten, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." twenty, forty years ago, as a rejection; and The reason of the address, if you believe the have sworn “in his wrath, that you should Scripture, is obvious : for “no man can serve not enter into his rest." Surely, after this two masters : for either he will hate the one, fresh proposal, God may resolve, consistently and love the other; or else he will hold to with all the riches of his goodness, to address the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot you no more; to order away all the means serve God and mammon." “ Ye adulterers and influences that can benefit your souls, and adulteresses, know ye not that the friend and to say, “He is joined to idols, let him ship of the world is enmity with God? / alone.” It is certain that the longer you whosoever therefore will be a friend of the waver, the more difficult you will find it to world is the enemy of God. Love not the decide; for the world tyrannizes the more it world, neither the things that are in the is obeyed; and the heart is hardened through world. If any man love the world, the love the deceitfulness of sin. And what is it to of the Father is not in him."
determine that you cannot decide at once?
Is there any comparison between the respect- sent: and says he, “ The hand of the Lord ive claimants? Between hell and heaven? was there upon me." This expression always Between the bondage of corruption and the marks an impulse of inspiration. What kind service of God? Between the way of trans- of impression it was that moved them in these gressors, which is hard, and Wisdom's ways, cases we cannot determine; but they knew which are all pleasantness and peace? “ What it to be divine. And we observe here-tat fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye no place can exclude God from approactung are now ashamed? for the end of those things his servants, or holding intercourse with is death. But now, being made free from sin, them. and become servants to God, ye have your But he is a sovereign; and may manifest fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting himself when, and how, and where he pleases, life.”
Yet his sovereignty is never to be eonfounded But the grand prevention is the world— with arbitrariness—He has reasons for his To give up the world !- But you must give conduct; and though all places are alike to it up soon—and who is most likely to resign him, they are not the same with regard to it with ease and pleasure; the man who idol- us. To receive, therefore, the intended conizes it, or he that is weaned from it!—To munication, he is ordered to withdraw. “And give up the world! But how are you required he said unto me, Arise, and go forth into the to give it up? Not as to your station in it, plain, and I will there talk with thee." your business, or your duty; but only as to If we consider Ezekiel as a prophet, the what is evil and injurious to yourselves. Giv- order applies peculiarly to ministers; and ing up the world is not giving up happiness. says to them—“ Appear, but live not in pobDid it ever make you happy? Has it not left lic. Be not too companionable. Retire your heart cold and void; and, even in its much for study and devotion. It is there you best estate, led you to ask, “Who will show will obtain an unction from the Holy One, us any good ?" And who enjoys the world and know all things.” Look ye out, said the most in its lawful pursuits and innocent in- Apostles to the churches, deacons to manage dulgences? The man who is reconciled unto your temporal affairs : but“ we will give cure God by the death of his Son, and renewed in selves unto prayer, and the ministry of the the spirit of his mind. To him the sun shines word.” And to Timothy, Paul said, “ Medifairer, and the rose is more fragrant than tate upon these things; give thyself wbolly before. “OLD THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY; to them; that thy profiting may appear to BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW." all."
But the address will apply to Christians at
| large: and we may derive from it this obserDISCOURSE XCVIJI.
vation--RETIREMENT IS FRIENDLY TO COXMUNION WITH God. Let us consider,
I. THE DUTY—And II. THE PRIVILEGE RETIREMENT. And he said unto me, Arise, go forth in the "- Call me away from flesh and sense :
One sovereign word can draw me thence : plain, and I will there talk with thee.-Ezek.
I would obey the voice Divine, ini. 22.
And all inferior joys resign. The pleasures and advantages of solitude
Be earth, with all her scenes, withdrawn: have been often admired and recommended. Let noise and vanity be goneAll love the world; yet all complain of it: and In secret silence of the mind,
My heaven, and there my God I find." whatever schemes of happiness are devised, the scene is always laid in a withdrawment | I. THE DUTY enjoined—“ And he said unto from it. “It is there,” says the victim of me, Arise, and go forth into the plain." It perfidy and malice, “it is there the wicked may be necessary to premise two things cease from troubling, and there the weary First: The place is indifferent. It matters are at rest.” It is there the warrior feeds his not whether it be a private room, or the open courage, and arranges the materials of vic- field. The thing required is to be alone. tory. It is there the statesman forms and And, Secondly, It is not a state of absolute weighs his plans of policy. There the philo- retirement that God enjoins. Man was made sopher pursues his theories and experiments. for society, as well as solitude: and so is the There the man of genius feels the power of Christian. A great part of our religion rethought and the glow of fancy, and roves in gards our fellow-creatures, and cannot be dis a world of his own creation. « Through de- charged but by intermixture with them: and sire a man, having separated himself, seeketh what our Saviour thought of resigning busiand intermeddleth with all wisdom."
ness, abandoning our connexions, and hiding I have to consider solitude in reference to ourselves in woods and cells, appears obvithe Christian: it has a very interesting con- ously, from the language which he addressed nexion with religion.
to his own disciples; “ Ye are the light of Ezekiel was now by the river Chebar, with the world. A city that is set on a hill canthe captives of Israel, to whom he had been | not be hid. Neither do men light a candle,
and put it under a bushel, but on a candle-, we are not slothful in business, among all our stick; and it giveth light unto all that are in cares, one thing is needful ; and admonishes the house. Let your light so shine before us to choose that good part which shall not men, that they may see your good works, and be taken away from us. It brings us more glorify your Father which is in heaven." It immediately into the presence of God: and is, therefore, possible for a Christian to be gives us an opportunity to examine our alone, when he ought to be abroad; and to be character and our condition. It renews those indulging a favourite inclination, when he pious impressions which our intercourse with should exercise self-denial, in order to meet the things of time and sense is continually the calls of Providence. It may be much wearing off. It is in this view the believer more pleasing often to sit alone, reading or prizes it ; calling the Sabbath a delight, the reflecting, than to be called forth to give ad- holy of the Lord, honourable. vice, or to visit the afflicted-but, as we
“Now from the crowd withdrawn away, “ have opportunity, we must do good unto all
He seems to breathe a diff'rent air; men, especially to them that are of the house
Compos'd and soflen'd by the day,
All things another aspect wear." hold of faith.”
But what our subject demands is, compara- The light he beholds is the Lord's. The tive and occasional secession for moral and ground he treads is sacred. Even the public spiritual purposes. This will be found a worship is a seclusion from the world: it is duty; and God says to you, as he did to the exchange of secular employment for reEzekiel, “Go forth, and I will talk with ligious; of civil society for spiritual; of the thee."
ledger for the Bible; of the shop for the And says he not this by express commands? sanctuary. But it affords him a season for I hope you acknowledge his authority; and the more large and particular exercises of in the true spirit of obedience ask, “ Lord, private devotion—and the return of every what wilt thou have me to do?" And can Saturday evening cries, “ To-morrow is the you be ignorant that he has said, by the mouth rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” of his servant and of his Son, “Stand in awe, “Go forth into the plain, and there will I and sin not: commune with your own heart talk with thee." upon your bed, and be still. 'Enter into thy And says he not this by the dispensations closet; and when thou hast shut thy door, of his Providence ? Affliction often at once pray to thy Father which is in secret, and disinclines us to social circles, and disqualifies thy Father which is in secret shall reward us for them. Sickness separates a man from thee openly.”
the crowd, and confines him on the bed of And says he not this by example? “Isaac languishing, there to ask, “Where is God went out into the field at eventide to medi- my maker, who giveth songs in the night?" tate. Jacob was left alone, and there A reduced condition will diminish your aswrestled with him a man, until the dawning sociates. It will drive off the selfish herd, of the day." “ Then went king David in, who think that a friend is born for prosperity; and sat before the Lord, and he said, Who but it will bring you Christians and minisam I, O Lord God? and what is my house, ters, whose religion teaches them to comfort that thou hast brought me hitherto? And those that are cast down; and they will bring this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O God. “Lover and friend hast thou put far Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy from me, and mine acquaintance into darkservant's house for a great while to come. ness"—is a groan that is, in time, wrung And is this the manner of man, O Lord from every heart. What a solitude-what a God?" Daniel retired three times a day. dreariness does the death of relations for a Peter went up to the house-top to pray about time produce! The death of a child will the sixth hour, and received a Divine com- desolate the world in feeling, if not in fact. munication. Of our Saviour, whose life has “ He sitteth alone, and keepeth silence:" or the force of a law, it is said; “In the morn- sighs, “I watch, and am as a sparrow alone ing, rising up a great while before day, he upon the house-top."--Some have been dewent out, and departed into a solitary place, serted by weakness and perfidy: Job could and there prayed.” At another time " he say, “My brethren have dealt deceitfully as went out into a mountain to pray, and con- a brook, and as the stream of brooks they tinued all night in prayer to God.”
pass away; which are blackish by reason of Says he not this by the institution of the the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: what Sabbath? We are not to consider the ap-time they wax warm, they vanish: when it pointment of the Sabbath as a display of the is hot they are consumed out of their place." Divine prerogative only : “the Sabbath was “ At my first answer," says Paul, “no man made for man.” It has a merciful reference, stood by me, but all men forsook me”—but, even to his body; by conducing to cleanli- adds he, “nevertheless the Lord stood by me, ness, comfort, and health ; but the provision and strengthened me.” For the Christian is principally regards the welfare of the soul. often never less alone than when alone. The Sabbath comes, and tells us, that while When Joseph was sent to prison, and he tells us God sent him there," the Lord was with forth into the fields, let us lodge in the vil Joseph.” When John was banished to the lages." And says God of his people, “Beisle of Patmos, he was indulged with the hold, I will allure her, and bring her into the manifestations of the Almighty. Paul, in wilderness, and there will I speak comforta. prison, wrote many of his Epistles: and therebly unto her.” many others, whose works praise them in the II. Let us consider THE PRIVILEGE Pro gate, composed their most admired and useful mised—“And I will there talk with thee." publications. They were ordered out of the Mark, First—The condescension of the world, that God might talk with them! Speaker. We admire the nobleman that
Says he not this by the influence of his kindly notices a peasant; and the sovereign grace? This agency always produces in its that deigns to converse with one of his poorsubjects certain sentiments and dispositions, est subjects. But who is it that here says which urge and attach them to retirement. Il “There I will talk with thee?" And with will mention four of these.
whom does he hold this converse? It is the The First is a devotional temper. Who Creator talking with the creature. It is the ever delights in prayer will delight in retire-God of heaven and earth, holding communion ment; because it is so favourable to the fre- with man that is a worm, and the son of man quency and freedom of the exercise. There that is a worm. we can divulge what we could not communi- Nor is this all-annexed to our meanness cate in the presence of the dearest earthly are our unworthiness, and our guilt. Here friend. There words are unnecessary—“our is, therefore, the condescension not only of desire is before him; our groaning is not hid goodness, but of mercy and grace. * Lord, from him :" the eye poureth out tears unto what is man, that thou art mindful of him, or God; and he hears the voice of our weeping. the son of man, that thou visitest him?"
The Second is a desire to rise above the Secondly. Observe the happiness of the world. This will induce a man to retire. believer. By what scale can we judge of How often does the Christian lament that his blessedness so rightly as the degree of nearconversation is so little in heaven, and that ness to God, the supreme good, the fountain he is so much governed by things that are of life? In his presence there is fulness of seen and temporal! But where is the world joy, and at his right hand there are pleasures conquered? In a crowd? No: but-alone. for evermore. How blessed, then, is the man In the midst of its active pursuits ? No—but whom God chooses, and causes to approach viewed as an object of solitary contemplation; unto him now. Yet “ such honour hare all viewed in the presence of Jehovah ; viewed his saints.” How would a man be envied if in the remembrances of eternity. Then its the king was to favour him with his presence emptiness appears—Then the fascination is and intimacy! Especially if he was known dissolved——Then we look upward and say, to meet him by appointment, from time to “Now what wait I for? my hope is in thee?" time, alone. Yet is this no more than every
The Third is a wish to obtain self-know-Christian expects and enjoys. He has insured ledge. This will induce a man to withdraw. interviews with the blessed and only PotenIt is only alone that he can examine his slate;tate. Some of us cannot aspire after interthat he can estimate his attainments; that he course with many of our fellow-creatures, by can explore his defects; that he can discern reason of our condition and our talents. We the sources of his past dangers or falls; and may wish to be in their company, yet shrink set a watch against future temptation from their notice: we may long to hear them
The Fourth is love to God.—This will lead talk, yet could not talk with them—we should a man to retire. When we are supremely be swallowed up we should deem it impos attached to a person, his presence is all we sible for them to listen to our weakness want; he will be the chief attraction, even But, whatever be our condition, or our tain company; how desirable then to meet him lents, we have a free and invited access to alone, where he seems wholly ours, and we God- we have boldness to enter into the ho can yield and receive undivided attention, liest by the blood of Jesus-He hears our Friendship deals much in secrecy; kindred praises and complaints and * there," says souls have a thousand things to hear and to he, “ will I talk with thee !" utter that are not for a common ear. This Thirdly. What is the subject of commuis pre-eminently the case with the intimacy nication? It is variously expressed in the subsisting between God and the believer. Scripture. It is called his secret, and his coThere is a peculiarity in every part of the venant: “The secret of the Lord is with Christian's experience. “ The heart knoweth them that fear him, and he will show them his own bitterness, and a stranger intermed- his covenant." It is called judgment, and his dleth not with his joy :" but both his pains way: “ The meek will he guide in judgment, and pleasures bring with then evidence that and the meek will he teach his way." It is they are from God for they dispose the soul peace: “He will speak peace unto his peo to hold communion with him. “Come," says ple." It regards every thing that is importthe Church, “come, my Beloved, let us go ant to their welfare, or interesting to their feelings and hopes. It takes in what he has |couraging unhallowed freedoms, gives a man done for them, what he is doing, and what he such intimate views of the peculiar glory of will do. He speaks concerning them for time God as fill him with godly fear. Thus it and eternity; he gives them exceeding great was with our prophet. It was the same with and precious promises; and adds to his word Jacob, with Moses, with Elijah, with Job, his oath, that " by two immutable things, in with Isaiah, with Peter. which it is impossible for God to lie, they Secondly. It will draw forth unquenchamight have strong consolation who have fled ble desires after additional indulgence. That for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set be- which contents the believer makes him also fore them.”
insatiable. From his intercourse with him Fourthly. What is the mode of address ? he desires no more than God; but he will He does not talk with us in a preternatural desire more of him; and from every fresh manner, as he did sometimes of old with his discovery the prayer will arise, “I beseech people. He carne down and spake with Mo- thee, show me thy glory." ses as a man talketh with his friend. Moses Thirdly. It will produce likeness. “He saw his glory, and heard his voice. But it is that walketh with wise men shall be wise." enthusiasm in us to expect dreams, and vi- We soon acquire the tone and the manner sions, and sudden impulses, and audible sounds. of those who converse much with us, espeThere are no new communications from God cially if they are our superiors, and we very now :I mean, new in themselves, and such highly love or revere them. Some boast of as were not to be found in the Bible before; being much with God; but so censurable for as to us they may be, and will be often are their conduct and temper, that few of new. If a man born blind was to be restored their fellow-creatures would like to be much to sight, the sun, which he never saw before, with them. If you are selfish, and covetous, and would be new to him; but it would not be a censorious, and revengeful, some other being new sun. We may begin to feel truths which has been talking with you: this spirit cometh we never thought of before; yet the truths not from him who calleth you: it is from themselves are as old as the revelation of God beneath; and is earthly, sensual, devilish. to man. But he opens our eyes to see won- “ But the wisdom that is from above is first drous things out of his law. He opens our pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be understandings that we may know the Scrip- entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, tures. He leads us into all truth. He ap- without partiality, and without hypocrisy. plies the doctrines and promises of his word And the fruit of righteousness is sown in by his Spirit; and by enabling us to realize peace of them that make peace.” our own interest in them, he says to our From this subject-Some are to be censouls, I am thy salvation.
sured. Finally. What is the evidence of the fact? Such are those who call themselves ChrisHow shall we know that he does talk with tians, and are regular in their attendance us? Remember the two disciples going to on public ordinances, but are seldom alone. Emmaus. Our Lord joined them as they They who hear much, and reflect little, are journeyed, and inquired after the subject of always found very imperfect characters their conversation and concern. “And be- for it is not what we devour, but what we ginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he digest, that aids health and supports life. expounded to them in all the Scriptures the Others never retire and what is the reathings concerning himself." Yet all this time son ? “O, we have not time; so numerous they took him for a stranger. But at supper and pressing are the cares and avocations of their eyes were opened, and they knew him, life." Have you more engagements than and he vanished out of their sight. And this David, who had to govern a large and diswas the reflection they made on the occur-tracted empire, surrounded with enemies rence; "Did not our heart burn within us yet could he say, “Evening, and morning, while he talked with us by the way, and and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud; and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" As he shall hear my voice. Seven times a day if they had said "Is it not astonishing that do I praise thee, because of thy righteous we did not know him earlier ? That we did judgments." Do you not trifle away more not discover him upon the road-For who time every day of your lives than is required could have conversed with us as he did ? for the purpose of devotion? Could you not, Who could have made such impression on the by order, and diligence, and rising earlier, heart ?"
secure more leisure than you now command ? Determine the Divine converse with you Where there is a will there is a way. Disin the same way. Judge of it by its influ- inclination loves to shelter itself behind difences and effects. Three effects will always ficulties. The slothful cries, “There is a arise from it.
lion in the way;" and so there is; but he First. It will produce a deep and solemn puts it there. Žeal clears the road, and will sense of our vanity and vileness. Commu- often convert hinderances into helps. nion with God, instead of gendering and en- Let me ask whether you do not decline