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the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are not of the Father, but of the world." We are to forsake all and follow Christ; to "cleave unto the Lord with full purpose of heart;" as sheep we are to hear His voice, and know it, and follow Him; a stranger we are not to follow, for we are not to know the voice of a stranger. Our eyes and ears are to be closed to all but the Good Shepherd, who will lead all His sheep into safety, and give unto them eternal life.
But we cannot go two roads at once, nor stop at the crossing; we must be one thing or the other-saved or lost; a doubleminded man is unstable in all his ways, let not such a man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." Christ will not have a divided heart; God is a jealous God. He demands our entire and supreme affections, that we should serve Him with all our heart, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Nothing is left for any other service. His glory He will not give to another; it must either be the Lord, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land we dwell; the God of Heaven to open our eyes, or the god of this world to blind them and lead us to destruction. There is no middle course; choose ye which ye will take. Besides that, we have not two roads, but must take one or the other, so we have no time to lose; for,
IV. Fourthly, the decision should be now, while the matter is fairly before us; this day; as soon as we come to years of discretion, and learn the truths of religion, the value of the soul, the claims of the Saviour as our Priest and King. There is no room for delay, since His claim to us is now or never, as much now as ever it will be ; and our chance is now, while God condescends to reason with us, saying, Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; and though they be red as crimson, they shall be as snow;" 66 as far as the east is from the west, so far will He put our transgressions from us;" for "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
"Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." It was at the time of their warning that Joshua sought to bring them to a decision. "Choose ye, this day;" do not wait to another; it is your own concern; the whole matter is laid before you; come now to a deliberate and enlightened decision. What can such a decision be?
V. As the address is independent, throws the responsibility on
the hearer, and as the appeal is to free choice, so in the fifth place our decision should be independent of all other people; since we must answer for ourselves-whatever others do, "I will serve the Lord;" the stream of fashion shall not carry me down the falls of the gulf; I have been fooled by companions and fear of the world long enough; by God's grace, I will now begin to think for myself, fearing only God's frown, but no man's sneers, trembling only before Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, and, seeking, find His favours, who will glorify both soul and body in heaven.
Do not wait for anybody else. Tell them beforehand what you mean, and get them to join you if you can; but join yourself to the Lord in an everlasting covenant, and He will seal it with His own royal signet, and seal you with His own Holy Spirit.
Finally, while you are independent-a man on your own account by the Saviour's side-do not be unfeeling for others; do not let them draw you aside; but bring them with you if you can; and be sure that God will bless all wise attempts to serve Him by saving souls.
Look first to yourself, and then to your house; as for me and my house," said Joshua, we will serve the Lord." He could answer for them. We cannot always do it, but we should always try. Let us ask ourselves as fathers, and as professors of religion, how far our example is the cause of others seeing it "evil to serve the Lord."
If ever any think ill of religion, it is either because they are evil themselves, and therefore naturally dislike what by its very goodness condemns them, or else, because they judge of it by their opinions of those who profess it. We cannot always avoid the ill opinion of censorious men, but we should seek never to deserve it, and, above all, to avoid those defects which tend to throw discredit on religion itself. Men have a right to look, especially, for justice and generosity, uprightness and benevolence, in the professors of religion; but when the most rigid formality is found associated with bitterness, injustice, and meanness, they are apt to take this one bad specimen for all religious people, and to transfer their dislikes to religion itself. This refers to our influence on the world; but, in our own families, with our children, still greater care is required, to avoid moroseness, and the enforcement of what they can neither understand nor appreciate; and, above all, to let them see that religion has an indirect influence on our whole
character, that we may not undo our direct instructions by a spirit that contradicts them, but teach more by deeds than by words.
It is a melancholy circumstance, that good men's families often turn out ill; not that parents are always responsible for this, but, too often, there is a want of wisdom in early management; and God, by His selecting grace, sometimes fetches the brightest saints out of the worst families, to teach us what He would have done in our own, if we had trained our children with due discretion.
Let us, then, look to others as well as to ourselves, that we may say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;" and then we can speak with the greater force to our neighbours and to the world at large. How, then, is it with you? Is your mind made up on this question?
Remember, 1st. That it comes to you in an independent spirit, to throw you on your own responsibility, and leaves the matter with you.
2nd. That it comes to offer you a free choice, and presents abundant reasons to secure your attention.
3rd. That there is no second course; it is either God or the world, heaven or hell.
4th. That if you are not yet decided, it demands a decision now, that you should "choose, this day," what course you will take.
5th. That, as it is independent, and appeals to your duty, you should be independent of all the fashions of the world, and decide for yourself, where only yourself is concerned.
And, finally, that you should imitate Joshua, in seeking so to live and act, as that while you will not join others in sin, they may join you in the way of salvation.
THE CARELESS SINNERS.
"Be troubled, ye careless ones.”—ISAIAH XXxii. 11.
THERE have been careless sinners in all ages of the world, and there are many in the present day; and it is our duty to seek their conversion to God. Noah, Elijah, Jeremiah, the Apostles, and the Son of God preached to such, and preached to many of them in vain; for these
careless ones disbelieved their doctrines, despised their warnings, and refused to repent of their sins and turn to God. There are many careless ones in the world at this moment, notwithstanding all the means employed to save them. These are not confined to those who neglect a
place of worship, violate the laws of their country, and live in open sin; but they are also to be found in our Sabbath schools, in families where God is acknowledged, and in the house of God. There are many who hear the Gospel, who are taught the principles of the Christian religion, and are the objects of godly solicitude, who are manifesting no sincere and earnest concern about their salvation. There are godly parents who have ungodly children, Christian ministers who preach to careless hearers, Sabbath - school teachers, who instruct scholars indifferent to the momentous claims of the Saviour. Persons may be sober, honest, and kind, and attend to the outward forms of religion, yet be careless in reference to their true spiritual condition before God. The cold indifference of the heart to the claims of Christ, is one of the great difficulties in the way of the success of the Gospel. Many manifest no active opposition to the truth as it is in Jesus; they do not persecute those who believe it, they may even pay some outward respect to it, but still they do not love it, their hearts are not affected by it, they live on in a state of heartless indifference to it. Were they as indifferent to their worldly affairs as they are to the spiritual interests of their souls, they would soon be involved in ruin, poverty, and misery. Religion requires the heart, and if this is withheld, God will not accept any of our outward observ
The reader of these lines may be living in a state of indifference to the claims of the Word of God, and, if so, the text utters a friendly ad
monition to you. God says to you, by the mouth of his inspired prophet, "Be troubled, ye careless ones." The sins of the Jews brought great trouble upon them. They found that the way of transgressors is hard. And many have found that sin is a troublesome thing. This is a trouble to nations, families, and individuals. Sin leads to misery in this world, and to still greater in the world to come. The Word of God solemnly declares, "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked." And yet, notwithstanding this warning, many continue to hug their chains, to harbour the viper, and to expose themselves to the wrath of God. Are you, dear reader, of the number? Then now awake from your guilty slumbers, ponder the path of your feet, cast away thy sins, be reconciled to God, and seek the offered mercy. The persons addressed are the careless ones. And who are these? They are persons who are careless about the eternal wellbeing of their souls; careless about the glory of God in the world; careless about the glad tidings of the Gospel. They are in possession of a precious jewel, but are careless about its safety. They are under sentence of death, and may fall into hell at any moment, but they live as easy as if they were innocent men. They may appear before God soon, yet make no serious preparation for their last account. They are indifferent to the knowledge, favour, and will of God. All who neglect His house, His word, His throne, His day, His laws, His truth, His claims, His Son, are careless ones. Though in danger of being lost, and lost for
ever, they are careless, manifest no alarm, live on as if all was well. The vessel is in danger of being wrecked, yet they fear no evil. They may be anxious about their bodies, their families, their business, yet careless about heaven, Christ, the one thing needful. There is a race to run, and one involving eternal consequences; but they are indifferent about it. There is a battle to fight, but they refuse to encounter the foe. There is a journey to pursue to the better land, but they cannot be persuaded to commence it. The Gospel holds out a crown of life to their view, but they will not strive for it. They prefer sin to holiness, slavery to liberty, earth to heaven, error to truth, the pleasures of the world to the pleasures of religion. Here is infatuation!
There are many weighty and solemn reasons why these careless ones should be troubled. The eternal God is displeased with them. He is angry with them every day. They are exposed to eternal misery. They will not be able to escape the punishment due to their disobedience. They will have to do with an omniscient, almighty, and eternal God, and when they meet Him in another world, the door of mercy will be closed; there will be no hope set before them, no encouragement to seek salvation. Then, if you would not be troubled in death, at the bar of God, when you hear the blast of the last trump, be troubled now for your sins, and arise and call upon God to save you. Now try and realise your guilty condition in the sight of a holy God; now review your past
life, think of the future before you, and resolve to live to God. Timely consideration will save you many bitter tears, many piercing thorns, many unavailing regrets. The lost find no relief under their trouble, no way of escape, no hope of mercy. The Scriptures show that the careless ones have occasion for alarm, they live in the midst of awful perils, and they will find earnest attention to the claims of Christ their highest wisdom. He knows the worth of the soul, the realities of eternity, the scenes of the last judgment, the advantages of piety, the greatness of the salvation in Him, and He says, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
The reader of these lines may be troubled for his sins, and may be anxious for salvation; for you there is hope, for the Saviour of the world is mighty to save. There is efficacy in His blood to cleanse you from all the stains of sin. He can free you from all condemnation, and give you a title to the heavenly inheritance. The trouble you feel is intended to make you welcome the glad tidings of the Gospel, for the more we feel the wound, the more we shall value the great Physician. But it may be that you are still a careless one. Perhaps you have never seriously pondered the misery of your present state, you have never made confession of your sinfulness to God, you have never cried in earnest, "Lord, save me." And will you continue to sport on the brink of perdition? Will you never be wise? Will you never turn from the broad road to destruction? Surely, there is much in your circumstances to induce