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DIFFERENT DAYS OF DECISION.
to the world, was the Spirit who had spoken in old times by the prophets; that a day was at hand, which nothing but that Spirit could enable any to pass through.
And like days of the Lord, like battles in the valley of decision, have there been between the two kingdoms which are striving together upon this earth, often since that time. We may
not be able to determine who were the combatants on each side. In a thousand cases it may be hard to say these were merely maintaining the evil cause, these were altogether on the side of justice and truth and order.' There is often a strange confusion of banners; names and watchwords are imperfect helps in ascertaining who are doing God's work, who are hindering it. We must be content, yea rejoice, that their judgment is not with us but with the Lord: The old prophets tell us that Samaria was as evil as Tyrus, that there was, not seldom, a worse spirit in Jerusalem than in Moab. They tell us this. It is the main cause of their sorrow and anguish. But it does not lead them to doubt that there is a battle between God and His enemies. It drives them to think of Him firstly and chiefly; because He is light and in Him is no darkness; because all manner of evil in sinners and saints, in those who confess His name or in those who are ignorant of it, must be hateful to Him; and all good wherever it lies scattered must be from Him and must be at last gathered to His side.
Oh brethren, let us learn this great lesson. We know not when the final day of decision is to be. But there is some day of decision in every age, some great battle of truth and falsehood, of righteousness and injustice, of love and self-will, in which we must one and all take part. There is a power of destruction at work in every society, in every heart. Do not fancy that you are less in danger from
HOW TO PREPARE FOR THEM.
it than your forefathers were.
It is nearest to you
when you are least aware of its approaches, when you are least on your watch against it. A day may be very near at hand when the question will be forced upon every one, and when every one must give the answer to it, “ Art thou on the side of self-willed power or of righteousness? Dost thou worship the devil or the father of lights ?” As that great and terrible day approaches, terrible to every man who knows what the treachery of his own heart is, and yet most blessed, because in that day God will cast out the dividing destructive principle on which He has pronounced His sentence, which Christ died to overcome, we must seek a fulfilment of the old promise which has never failed yet. Before any great critical event, any world epoch, there has been vouchsafed to the humble and meek, greater insight into the past, greater foresight of that which is to come. There has been a power of vision, a capacity of looking into the meaning of things, a discovery of the springs which lie beneath the surface, which are only granted when they are desired not for the glory of the seeker, but for the necessities of the Church and of mankind. It is not that there are more young or old men dreaming dreams in the sense which we sometimes give to that phrase; men flying from the facts of the world, dwelling in a region of fancy. The dreams which Joel and St. Peter speak of, indicate a closer contact with realities, a more inward communion with Him who is true, an intolerance of shadows, a longing for substance. Such dreams come not through the multitude of business nor through the listlessness which follows it. They come to earnest spirits struggling for life, wearied with the noise of the world, with the strife of nations and opinions, distrusting themselves, believing in God.
REPENTANCE THE HIGHEST GIFT.
But that we may not receive, instead of this true spirit of wisdom and light, a fanatical spirit which will fill us with conceits, which will divide us from our brethren, which will drive us at last among the world's swine and then down a steep place into the deep, we should remember that the prophet who speaks of seeing visions and dreaming dreams, speaks first of turning to the Lord with all the heart. Repentance is God's choicest and deepest gift; repentance for our habitual dreariness and coldness, for that shallowness of heart which overtakes us when we are surrounded with the tokens of His presence, when we are partakers of the ordinances of His grace; which those very privileges seem to produce in us; from which troubles, individual or national, cannot of themselves deliver us. Divines may have infinite refinements about the mode, degrees and effect of repentance. That one phrase of Scripture, 'turning to God,' contains I think all that we can say of it. "Man, thou art living, moving, having thy being in One whom thou art habitually forgetting. That forgetfulness makes thee forget thy brethren; yea, and in the truest sense, forget thyself. Thou dost not know what thou art, whither thou art tending. All the earth is a riddle to thee. Thy fellow men are hindrances in thy way. Thou art thine own great curse and terror. Recollect from whom come the thoughts and impulses of the mind and will within thee; who can make those thoughts and impulses an order instead of a chaos. Turn round to the light which is ever sending flashes into the midst of thy darkness. Ask that instead of such momentary appearances, from which thou shrinkest as a guilty thing surprised, it may penetrate thee and possess thee, and become thy constant habitation. Open thine eyes and see what witnesses there are of this light all around
194 A PLEDGE OF BLESSINGS TO THE WORLD. [Serm. XI. thee. Every church, every prayer, every season of the year is testifying of it and reminding thee of it. These are visible things, established upon earth, powerless in themselves; but signs of a Kingdom of Heaven; signs of a power which can transform thee and transform the world. When thou yieldest thyself to its transforming energy, thou wilt not bear to see the earth lying crushed under the weight of its sins and oppressions. Thou wilt believe in thy heart and declare with thy lips that in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, in the Church which God has set up, in the people who believe in His love, there is a prophecy of deliverance for the universe.'
THE UNFAITHFUL WIFE.
LINCOLN's Inn, 1st SUNDAY IN LENT.—FEB. 29, 1852.
HOSEA, II. 8.
For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and
oil, and multiplied her silver and gold which they prepared for Baal.
The history of the ten tribes after the death of Jeroboam II., explains and confirms the terrible warnings of Amos. “Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam, reigned over Israel for six months. And Shallum the son of Joash conspired against him and smote him before the people and slew him, and reigned in his stead. Shallum reigned a full month in Samaria, for Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah and came to Samaria and reigned in his stead.” This reign lasted ten years. It is very memorable in the history, for in
, the course of it, Pul the king of Assyria came against the land. “And Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver
. 6 that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand. And he exacted the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So that he turned back, and stayed not there in the land.”—2 Kings, c. xv. Thus