Page images

without the love of GOD! Let none of them be lost-no, not one in this assembly! Let not one sinner in this assembly be cast into hell. Oh, holy Father, grant that not one man or woman in this place may be cast away for ever, through the want of the love of GOD! Oh, who is there of this assembly that shall be cast away? If we were instructed now that some one in this congregation was to be cast away, O GOD, what searching of souls would there be! One would say, "Lord, is it I?"—and another would say, "Lord, is it I?" Father of mercies show us that if we be cast away it is through our hatred of thee, and not through thy unwillingness to receive us that it is because we will not, not because thou wilt not! How often wouldest thou, but we would

not! How often would he, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wing, have given you an opportunity—you, who are constantly turning away from your Father, and ruining yourselves— of enjoying the life-giving power of his own protecting arm, and ye would not! O that the Sun of Righteousness, in sovereign mercy, may smile upon the opportunity thus afforded us of proclaiming his love-and that many, many may have reason to bless his name for ever for the message received this night in his love! May that love produce its genuine fruits in all your souls, so that the first and great commandment of the Lord may be thus written upon your hearts in the reception of the free mercy of the Gospel! GOD, in infinite mercy, grant this, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.

A Sermon


Exodus, xxxii. 26." Who is on the Lord's side."

THE Occasion on which these words were originally spoken, affords a melancholy example of fallen man's proneness to apostatize from God. It shows, also, how little permanent effect the most miraculous displays of his power will produce on those hearts which have not been softened by the Holy Spirit.

unanimously answered: "All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.” Yet, now, before forty days have elapsed, they compel Aaron to make a golden calf, and assemble before it, saying: "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt."

Well might Moses be filled with The children of Israel were yet en- astonishment and indignation, when, camped at the foot of Sinai, on which descending from the Mount, he beholds still rested the cloud that betokened their madness. He casts from his the Divine Presence. They had scarcely hands the tables of stone on which ceased to tremble at the sound of the GOD himself had engraved the comtrumpet, and the awful thunders which mandments forming the basis of his shook the mountain, when from its covenant with Israel. The tables are blazing summit the law of Jehovah broken to signify the dissolution of was proclaimed. His own voice had that covenant; and those who had recommanded them not to make to them-mained faithful are commanded to slay selves any graven image, and they had the chief of these rebels against the

God of heaven, who had condescended which it produced during the earlier

part of the first French Revolution,
are but too well known; and though
the moral volcano appeared to have
exhausted itself during those tre-
mendous convulsions, it may be feared
that we have only been enjoying a
temporary calm, and that the great
earthquake foretold in the Apocalypse
is about to take place.

to declare himself the king of Israel.
Moses, standing in the gate of the
camp, exclaims :
"Who is on the
Lord's side? Let him come unto me.
And all the sons of Levi gathered
themselves together unto him. And
he said unto them: "Thus saith the
Lord God of Israel, put every man his
sword by his side and go in and out
from gate to gate throughout the camp,
and slay every man his brother, and
every man his companion, and every
man his neighbour. And the children
of Levi did according to the word of
Moses, and there fell of the people
that day about three thousand men."
These, doubtless, were some of the
most guilty and impenitent of the of-
fenders. Their punishment was com-
manded by GoD himself, and those
who inflicted it received the testimony
of his approbation.


Having thus briefly adverted to the circumstances which gave occasion to the appeal in the text, I shall not at present make any further application of them, except by remarking that the Lord requires from his servants a decided dedication of themselves to Him, and a determination to let no private affections or interests restrain them from fulfilling his commandments. My object in selecting this passage is to urge you, brethren, to decision of character-that it may clearly appear whose followers you are in these days of lukewarmness, and, I fear, commencing apostacy. With this view I shall endeavour to show, FIRST, HOW

In our country, through the goodness of Providence, a salutary warning was afforded by the calamities which afflicted other nations. The church, which had been lulled into a state of comparitive slumber, was roused to active exertion; the pure doctrines of the Gospel were more generally heard from her pulpits; and many of her lay members, who had been lukewarm and indifferent, became zealous servants of their Redeemer. During the last thirty years unparalleled efforts have been made for the diffusion of Christianity in our own and other lands; and many have been led to indulge the pleasing hope that we should speedily witness its triumphs over heathen darkness, Mahometan imposture, and papal superstition. But the prince of this world does not so easily surrender his dominion. Whilst apparently quiescent, he has been carrying on a most powerful and unsuspected agency. Transforming himself into an angel of light, he has made the principles of toleration and brotherly kindness a pretext for the encouragement of heresy; he has taught Christians, in their aims at more extended usefulness, to form an unhallowed alliance with the deniers of their Saviour's Godhead; and obtained for infidels a considerable influence in guiding the studies of the rising generation. The salutary dread of Popery, which our forefathers entertained, is now treated as a puerile



It has been abundantly proved that a conspiracy existed on the continent during the last century, for the extirpa-apprehension; and, whilst the apostion of Christianity and the subversion tate church is multiplying her chapels of social order. The baneful effects and seminaries throughout the king

[ocr errors]

on its supposed decline. Effects similar to these, which were so successful on the Continent, are now making, not merely for the submission of our venerable church, but for the total destruction of religious principle. Those who seek to destroy the bonds which hold society together, in the hope of profiting by the general ruin, are aware that they cannot succeed whilst Christianity retains its influence.

dom, we are congratulating ourselves | every class, and is fed by periodical publications, especially by Sunday newspapers, as grossly wicked as those which deluged France in the days of jacobinism. Having lived in the neighbourhood of manufacturing establishments, I have had but too much occasion to lament the manner in which the operatives, as they are called, employ their hours of relaxation, espe cially the evenings of the Sabbath. Their neglect of divine worship, their contempt of every civil as well as religious institution, their powerful combinations for the intimidation of their employers, and the destruction of the public peace, but too plainly manifest the effect which has been produced amongst them. As yet, however, I fear that we witness but "the beginning of sorrows:" what results a short time may produce, if no effectual resistance can be made to this overspreading torrent of impiety, it is more easy to apprehend than to calculate.

At first, they contented themselves with declaring war against bigotry and intolerance, complaining of the unequal distribution of ecclesiastical revenues. But they now scruple not openly to avow their designs, and assault the citadel of our faith with the most atrocious blasphemies. Whilst persons, in the lower orders of society, have their minds poisoned by publications adapted to their capacity and flattering to their worst passions; compositions suited to the more refined taste of the higher orders are provided for the diffusion of the venom in a less gross but not less pernicious form. In England, as formerly in France, the fascinations of poetry, the charms of eloquence, the discoveries of science, are perverted for the recommendation of atheistic doctrines, and the reflecting Christian shudders when he hears virtuous females discussing the merits of productions with which they should blush to acknowledge an acquaintance. The impression produced by these machinations of our great enemy are already but too apparent. The speeches which have been recently delivered on various public occasions, sometimes even by ministers of religion, show that true Christianity has of late lost much of its influence, especially in that middle rank of society where it used to have its most strenuous supporters. The spirit, which has long prevailed in our great manufacturing establishments, is diffusing itself amongst workmen of

It is certain, that the enemies of Christ and his Gospel are full of confidence, and scruple not to express their triumphant expectations of the downfall of what they call superstition. In the mean time, what is the conduct of his professed disciples? What are they doing to arrest the progress of wickedness? Where are we to look for the zeal, the love, the unity of spirit, the purity of manners, the devotedness of heart to the cause of truth and righteousness, which the first Christians exhibited, and which ought even to distinguish those who lay claim to that hallowed character ?

Surely, brethren, the present is a time to call upon all sincere friends of religion to stand forward as its strenuous defenders. It is a time to urge the enquiry, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Be assured, there can be no safety now for those who slumber at their post. The careless soldier is but too likely to be surprised by his watch

ful enemy-and the sudden coming of the great Captain of our Salvation, who, from his heavenly throne, observes the condition of every individual amongst us will fill those with consternation who neglect their duty. "Behold," he says, "I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." If the passage in which these words occur has been rightly interpreted, the warning is specially applicable to the present period.

Let us then consider, SECONDLY, WHAT ANSWER CAN BE MADE TO THE "WHO IS ON ENQUIRY OF THE TEXT, THE LORD'S SIDE?" Perhaps many may be ready to say, "Are not we who weekly assemble here to worship before the Lord? Are not we, who have been baptized into his church, and have never deserted her communion?" Remember, brethren, that the worshippers of the golden calf, who perished by the sword of the Levites, had been initiated by circumcision into the covenant of Jehovah, and were members of the church which he had established. We are often warned by the example of those, who, having been delivered from Egyptian bondage through unbelief, perished in the wilderness. As the Apostle of old said, "All are not Israel who are of Israel." So is it now-all who bear the name of Christ are not Christians in heart-smoking flax he quenched not, yet did

to lay down our lives, if necessary,
rather than deny our faith, or dis-
honour our profession? In these days
of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blas-
phemy, do we stand up as strenuous
defenders of the ark of GoD, account-
ing His enemies our enemies, and pre-
pared to resist them to the utmost?
Perhaps such questions may appear to
some to be dictated by that intolerance
which is so abhorrent to the liberal
maxims of this candid age. "What!"
they may be ready to say,
"Do you
wish for the extermination of all who
have not embraced what you call true
Christianity? Must we, like the Le-
vites, gird on our swords and go
through the camp to execute the
Divine vengeance on our brethren?”—
most certainly not-far different is the
spirit of our religion. The kingdom of
Christ is not of this world; nor must
the policy of this world, nor the instru-
ments of this world, be employed for
its defence. "The weapons of our
warfare are not carnal, yet are they
mighty through GOD,' for pulling
down the strong-holds of Satan, and
repelling the assaults of his adherents.
No: it is after the example of our great
Captain that we would maintain the
combat; he did not strive nor cry,
neither did any man hear his voice
lifted up contentiously in the streets;
the bruised reed he broke not, the

all who are members of the visible
church are not followers of the Lamb,
nor distinguished by the marks of his
elect and peculiar people. For what
end were we signed with the sign of
the cross at our baptism? Was it not
that we might be separated from the
world which lieth in wickedness? Was
it not in "token that we should not
be ashamed to confess the faith of
Christ crucified-should manfully fight
under his banner against sin, the
world, and the devil, and continue
Christ's faithful soldiers and servants
unto our life's end?"

he not send forth judgment unto victory. When his disciples wished to call down fire from heaven for the destruction of the Samaritans who refused to receive him, he rebuked them, saying, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of: for the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Even for his murderers he implored forgiveness; and, after his ascension to glory, converted one of the bitterest enemies of his Church into its brightest ornament. In like manner did his first followers combat, and finally vanquish their heathen persecutors. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death." Let us imitate both his and their example:-being reviled, let us not revile again; being persecuted, let us not threaten; but" in meekness instruct them that oppose themselves, if


Now, my brethren, let us seriously ask ourselves, are we really separate from an ungodly world? Are we in no degree enslaved by its fashions, governed by its maxims, afraid of its reproach? Have we refused to partake of sinful pleasures? Are we watchful against every thing which might lead us into temptation? Are we prepared

[ocr errors]

GOD, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth." Still, whilst we disclaim all harshness and intemperance, we must assume a decided character-we must not allow it to be doubtful whether we are on the Lord's side, or on that of his enemies, but contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Let those, then, who possess learning and ability, employ themselves in exposing their sophistries who either openly or covertly assault the truth as it is in Jesus. With respect to the gross blasphemer, who daringly insults the majesty of heaven, argument will indeed be unavailing. It has been questioned whether the civil magistrate should interfere in such cases, because prosecution may render the profane libeller more notorious, and consequently more influential. But, on the other hand, it may be urged, that if the rulers of a nation allow the authority of GOD to be publicly denied, and his name reviled, they are in some sense partakers of the crime, and that it consequently is their duty to restrain by judicial proceedings all open and avowed impiety. But my present admonition more particularly respects such assaults upon our faith as may be opposed by argument, for though the objections brought against it have been repeatedly and most ably answered, it may still be a laudable exercise of literary talent to renew the refutation. New books are read when old ones are forgotten. That which Butler and Paley did in their day may perhaps be done again, in some form more adapted to the taste and temper of the times. In any case it may be shown, that all the ability and learning of the age are not on the side of evil. But besides resisting the assaults made upon the outworks of our faith, we must counteract those who seek to undermine the citadel. We must especially resist the progress of German neology, which seems to be making its way even amongst some who profess to be defenders and expositors of Scripture. We must beware lest the foundations of truth be subverted, especially those which respect the divine and human nature of our blessed Lord, the personality, agency, and gifts of the Holy Spirit; the authority and privileges of the Church, the glorious inheritance of

the saints in the Redeemer's coming kingdom.

It is very needful to controvert the opinion, that the moral amelioration of mankind may be effected by human wisdom or exertions. Such was the doctrine of the French sophists, who taught their disciples to anticipate a philosophical millenium, in which nature was to be subdued by art, and vice to be expelled by argument, whilst universal happiness would be the result of intellectual cultivation. I fear that similar views have been entertained by some benevolent men amongst ourselves, and that the zeal which has of late years been manifested for the diffusion of knowledge amongst the lower orders, has been injurious rather than beneficial, from the neglect of those means which alone can insure the Divine blessing. Whilst we have taught children to read the Bible, have we taught them to love it, to embrace its doctrines, to obey its precepts ? Have they not sometimes become disgusted with that; holy book by our making its perusal a task rather than a privilege? With respect to the knowledge so zealously diffused, has not its tendency been to dazzle rather than enlighten, to inflate with pride rather than to edify by Christian charity? Had our growing population been trained up in the knowledge of themselves and of their GoD and Saviour, learning their true condition as fallen creatures, and their infinite obligations to him who died to redeem them from ruin; had the amazing love of GoD in Christ Jesus been continually presented as a motive to love him supremely, and to love one another for his sake; had they been taught not only to repeat forms of prayer, but to speak for the spirit of prayer and for Divine illumination; had the nature and ob. ligations of the baptismal covenant been fully explained, and their whole training such as became

'The sacramental host of God's elect,' we should not witness the insubordination, the profligacy, the daring impiety, which now alarm us. Let us humble ourselves before God for these our errors, guarding against the repetition of them, imploring his protection against the threatened dangers, and beseeching him to pour forth on our

« PreviousContinue »