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Many things there are which they do not, though confessedly within their power
Of this the prophet complains in the words of our
And traces it up to its true and proper source
I. The extent of men's supineness
Little need be said to shew that the generality do not "turn to God"
They are scarcely sensible of their apostasy from him
They regard serious and vital religion as over-righteous preciseness—
They do not so much as "frame their doings to turn unto him❞—
They do not consider their ways
[This seems a reasonable duty, and within the reach of any man
Every prudent man does it with respect to his temporal affairs
Nor can there be any excuse for neglecting it in more important concerns
Indeed it is not possible to turn unto God aright, unless we have first discovered wherein we have turned from him
But men do not choose to search the records of their own conscience
They find it more pleasant to rest in the presumption that all is well
To this effect God himself testifies respecting them-]
[This is undoubtedly a step, which, every one that turns to God, will take
Nor, though this is more difficult, is it beyond the power of an unregenerate man
Though he cannot refrain from the love of sin, he may from the commission of it
Many actually do deny their appetites from prudential
Yet few, if any, will impose the same restraints from a regard to God
a Jer. ii. 36.
Or manifest the disposition recommended to them by Elihub
They do not avoid the means and occasions of sin [They have found the company of ungodly men to be a snare to their souls
Yet will they not withdraw themselves from their societyFrom many other things have they experienced a most baneful influence
Yet will they gratify themselves in all their wonted indulgences
In temporal matters they see the wisdom of fleeing from temptation"
Yet they account it needless to shun the means of spiritual defilement
But if they desired really to turn to God, could they evade the force of that question?-]
They do not use the means of obtaining true conversion
[They cannot but know the necessity of meditation and
They are well assured that an attention to God's word and ordinances is a principal mean of spiritual advancement
Yet any book is more pleasing to them than the Bible, and any employment than prayer
In seeking worldly advancement they will use the means with diligence
But all labour is deemed superfluous in the concerns of the soul-]
They not only do not thus frame their doings, but they will not
[Not all the promises of God can allure, or threatenings alarm them
They are deaf to the voice of conscience, and the dictates of God's Spirit
The language of their hearts is like that of the Jews of old]
They, on the contrary, frame their doings to turn as far as possible from God
[Would consideration help them? They banish it, with all books or conversation that might lead them to it
Would the turning from known sin? They will indulge itWould the avoiding of the means of sin? They will rush into temptation
b Job. xxxiv. 32.
d From the course, or the gaming table. e Prov. vi. 27.
c Exod. xxxiv. 12. Prov. xxii. 25.
Jer. xliv. 16, 17.
Would the using of the means of grace? They account them a servile drudgery
If they wished to injure their spiritual interests as much as possible, consistently with a good name among men, they could not adopt a surer method
The whole of their conduct unequivocally declares the language of their hearts]
To account for this supineness, let us trace it up to II. The causes of it
Persons, when convicted of evil doings, will yet affirm their hearts to be good
But can a tree be good whose fruits are uniformly bad?
The causes of this evil are justly described by the prophet
1. They love sin
["Whoredom" is frequently (and by Hosea in particular) used for sin in general
A "spirit of whoredom" imports an attachment to sin, and delight in it
Now this justly characterizes the state of fallen manIt accords with other descriptions given of him in scripturei
And is the fundamental cause of the supineness visible in the world
In following evil ways we glide easily down the stream→→ But in renouncing them we stem the tide of our corrupt
Hence even the first steps of turning to God are irksome and difficult
And we lay the rein on the neck of our appetites for want of resolution to restrain them
In this very manner does God himself trace up our transgressions to a deceived heart]
2. They are ignorant of God.
[Never accustomed to reflect on God, they know nothing of him-
The ideas they do form of him are grossly erroneous'— In their hearts they "imagine him to be even such an one as themselves"
8 Job xxi. 14, 15.
h In a similar sense a spirit of slumber is used, Rom. xi. 8. Eph. iv. 22. and Rom. viii, 7.
k Isaiah xliv. 20.
Ps. xcvii. 7.
This is another, and a very fruitful source of their supine
To this St. Paul ascribes the evil of their hearts and lives"— If they knew his power and majesty, could they dare thus to provoke him?
If they beheld his holiness, could they account sin so venial an evil?
If they were apprised of his justice, would they indulge hopes of impunity?
If they believed his veracity, would they so disregard his threatenings?
Above all, if they knew his mercy to us in Christ Jesus, could they so trample on the blood that was shed for them?— It would not be possible for them to withstand such views of his perfections
Such a discovery would produce on them the effect expe- · rienced by St. Paul"]
1. They who shall perish at the last day must ascribe their condemnation to themselves
[It is certainly true that man is not able of himself to do all that is required of him
But it is no less true that he is able to do many things which he neglects
Nor can it be doubted but that, if he cried to God for help, he might obtain it—
If he use not therefore the power that he has, and the appointed means of obtaining more, he can blame none but himself
In this view our Lord expressly declares that the fault is in our own perverse will°—
And God expostulates with us on the folly of our conduct— Is the husbandman justified in omitting to plow and sow his ground because he cannot insure a crop?
How much less then shall we be, in neglecting the means to which God has promised success?—
Let us not then deceive ourselves by offering vain excusesBut turn unto our God, and plead the mercy which he has promised to us1—]
2. If we would fully turn unto our God, we must have our hearts renewed, and our minds enlightened with the knowledge of Christ
[Would we heal the streams? we must cast the salt into the fountain head
Eph. iv. 18.
n Acts ix. 6.
4 Jer. ii, 12.
• John v. 40.
2 Kings ii. 21, 22.
Instead of being actuated by the spirit of whoredoms, we must pray to be "led by the Spirit of God"—
Instead of "abiding in darkness," we must seek to have "Christ revealed in us"
Thus shall "old things pass away, and all things become new"
We shall sweetly yield ourselves to the constraining influence of Christ's love
And not only turn, but "cleave, unto him with full purpose of heart"-]
CCCXCVI. THE DANGER OF DEFILING GOD'S
1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
EVERY passion of the human mind should be called forth in aid of vital godliness. The saints indeed are more influenced by considerations that excite their love and gratitude: but they still need to be sometimes impressed with truths that may awaken an holy fear and jealousy, especially when their conduct has been such as to deserve reproof. The Corinthians were in an high degree culpable on account of their contentions: the Apostle therefore warns them of the consequences of acting in a manner so unworthy of their profession,
In discoursing on his words, we shall consider 1. The acknowledged privilege of Christians
Christians, like the temple of old, are the habitation of God
[The temple was the place where God dwelt in a more especial manner. Not only was the visible symbol of his presence there, but there also he manifested himself to his people in tokens of his love and communications of his grace. Thus does he also now reveal himself in his church: yea, every individual believer is thus consecrated to his service, and honoured as his immediate residence.b]
a Eph. ii. 20-22. VOL. IV.
b 2 Cor. vi. 16.