« EelmineJätka »
privately, and who when any of their friends and relatives become really in earnest about religion, do ali they can to quench the flame of zeal and love, and to hinder their progress. They who thus act against the Gospel, manifestly enough do much worse than negle it. We would more particularly look at the case o those who have hitherto made light of salvation, and felt little or no concern about it. They see not the evil of sin, and have little confidence in God's word; they dis cern not their want of salvation, and hence, they do nơ earnestly and perseveringly desire it; at least, they do not diligently seek it in the use of the means which God has appointed; such as hearing, reading, and meditating on the word of God; prayer, watchfulness. self-denial, and taking up the daily cross. If thes attend external means, it is from various inferior motives. They do not personally, heartily, and gladly receive the Gospel in its various parts. They do not come to Christ, seek his salvation, and rely on him as the only sure foundation of hope, and the complete Deliverer of all who trust in him. Their earnestness is about worldly, and not about spiritual things.
But let us pass from individual instances of neglect, to notice one peculiar national sin of our own highlyfavoured land--neglect of the word of God. Dr. Chalmers speaks of millions within the limits of Christendom, nay, within the sight of Christian temples, and the sound of Sabbath bells, yet who never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He says, "They live to manhood and to old age, deplorably ignorant of the way of sal vation, and in ignorance, too, not the less deplorab that it is wilful. It is this which so fearfully aggravates their guilt, that, on the very confines of light, they remain in darkness; and therefore prove that it is a
darkness which they love, and which they persist in. Thus it will be found more tolerable for the heathen world abroad, than the heathen world at home."
O how true it is of Britain-Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which HE set before us by his servants the prophets. Consider how God has favoured our country; how his word is read by authority in ten thousand parishes; and what multitudes of faithful ministers labour among us; and then reflect, that probably four fifths of our population never hear or read his word, and a vastly larger proportion practically disregard it, and then say whether this be not a serious national sin. Bishop Hurd observes, "In one respect our guilt exceeds that of the Pharisees or the Philosophers who rejected the Gospel; they were alike ignorant and unbelieving: we profess to know and to believe.
Let us then take heed what we hear; lest our knowledge and belief add terrors to that day when the neglected word shall sit in judgment upon us." It was the special sin of Israel, and it is a special sin of Britain; the Lord their God had condescended repeatedly, plainly, and most graciously to speak to them, but yet they disobeyed him. True it is, neither Israel nor Britain do sensibly and personally see or hear him; and Daniel (ix, 10.) meets that very common refuge of many who imagine they do not disobey God when they disregard and disobey the voice of his servants. Men think if God himself were to speak to them they would surely attend. But it is here shown, that in rejecting the messengers of God, they do in effect reject God himself. God accounts that HE is despised when his servants are disregarded, though he neither himself descends from heaven, nor sends his angels to, announce his will.
This is the point which David fixes on in his confession, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. The chief malignity of this sin is, that it is a most daring rebellion against God, a base contempt of the great and glorious Governor of the world; a most ungrateful return for immense obligations; and an apostacy i heart from him. May the Holy Spirit convince Britons of this their exceeding sinfulness, and lead them earnestly to seek that salvation in which is their only security.
How many national evils follow the neglect of the word has already been shewn, (Chap. ii.) Bishop Wetenhall justly remarks, "These four grand evils, greater decay of the outward face and awe of religion, a falling off of our people on the one hand to popist superstitions, on the other to seditions, novelties, giddiness, confusion, and every evil work; and lastly d a multitude to downright atheism, would certainly and suddenly ensue should frequent preaching fail."
The neglect of the Gospel proceeds from various causes. Natural corruption and pride are very stron in us, and the Gospel is a holy, humbling system, laying man in the dust; giving all glory to God, and ye calling for much self-denial and sacrifice. Pride, there fore, and the love of the world, and the indulgence sinful or carnal desires, keep men from cordially receiving the Gospel. They gladly iuvent, or rely of ther, and easier expedients, that will not so muc interfere with their habits of self-indulgence. Slot and procrastination hinder others, not seeing the infinite magnitude of eternal things, nor realizing the uncer tainty of life, and the irreversible issue following death they trifle and are careless on that one point where a our energy ought to be excited. Fear of man keeps many a one back from decision of character. The
pride a in bling gown
d the m
ar of characte
business of this life, magnified beyond its just value,
What then is the state of him who neglects the
The danger incurred by disregarding this salvation, is
If we only regard the aggravation of this sin, we may
salvation, as the riches of divine wisdom, planned before time began, effected by the only-begotten Son of God, rescuing us from eternal perdition, and restoring us te heaven, and then say whether it be possible for a creature to cast greater contempt on God, than to prefer the perishing vanities of a fleeting world, and carelessly to disregard, and slight, and make light of the most wonderful display of divine wisdom and love manifested in the Gospel. O the blindness, hardness, and darkness of our carnal hearts! We profess to believe these things, and yet disregard nothing more. How tremendous will be that great day, when God shall enter into account with those who persevere in this neglect! they shall awaken to their true condition, and he shall say to them-Behold! ye despisers, and wonder, and perish! "Shall," says one, "the Son of God shed his blood in vain? Shall he suffer, and bleed, and die, for a thing of nought? Is it nothing unto you that he should undergo all these things? Can it be a matter of such small concern, that you will scarce make enquiry after it? Ah! be assured that these things are not so, and God grant that you may see this ere it be too late." You may be blinded even while life is spared. It is an awful declaration that we sometimes see exemplified, respecting those who dislike divine truth, and therefore neglect it, that because they received not the love of the truth—God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Our first fall from holiness and happiness arose from not listening to the voice of God; and all our subsequent falls, and the final and irreversible ruin of the wicked, arise from the same disregard of his word.