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shall keep us from going all lengths with the abandoned reprobate. Thus may we lay the flattering unction to our souls, that we are still in the safe road; and, like the Pharisee of old, we may perhaps, in the pride and self-flattery of our hearts, " thank God that we are not as other
But, alas ! far, very far, may this be “from the kingdom of God !” whilst, such is the infatuation, men shall think, that for them “all is safe,” although they deny themselves in scarcely any
ungodliness or worldly lusts,” much less strive against-to put down— this or that their besetting sin.
When Joshua, however, addressed himself to claim the attention of Israel, he spoke of the covenant which the Lord God had made with them, and in which covenant were comprised small matters as well as great, things relating to the public weal, as also to the more ordinary and daily conversation and conduct. To that covenant the people, in the happy hour of grateful affection and honest conviction, avowed their determination to adhere. And so, brethren, must we.
3 Luke xviii. 11.
In a happy and fortunate hour, even this very day, as we present ourselves before the Lord on the flowing tide of a new year, it shall be well for us to come to a like determination, and to witness against ourselves, that we choose the Lord this day to serve him. Most eventful to us must be the course of this year; it carries us onwards to the boundless ocean of eternity; and whether our frail bark is destined to outlive the storms and quicksands which shall beset this year's voyage-whilst this is known only to Him, in whose hands are “ the issues of life and death”- yet know we that we are this moment living, and determining, as it were, for weal or woe everlasting. Olet us not be “like the deaf adder which stoppeth her ears.” Let us not go on stupidly and cowardly in our former ignorance and irresolution. It will not do. It shall not profit in the
end. “ The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people who forget God.”* What then shall be the fate of those who “profess that they know God, but in works deny him”? 5 And have we, brethren, no fears, no misgivings, as to what may be proved against us at the last ? have we
no apprehensions that it may then stand recorded against us, that often and often, and under a very slight temptation, we have “ denied the Lord,” have virtually, nay positively, refused obedience to the precepts of his Gospel ; have in effect worked and slaved for that evil one, whose works “ the Lord our righteousness
" manifested to destroy”? O! be we“not deceived; God is not mocked.”6 It can never be too often repeated, that it is not in great matters only, but likewise in small, in private as well as in public, that our obedience is required. We are to be "holy in all manner of conversation.”? It is “ evil in
the sight of the Lord,” it is a dangerous thing, to think to unite what our Lord himself hath pronounced to be impossible. “ Ye cannot,” are his words, “serve God and mammon."8 And yet, notwithstanding this divine and positive declaration, how many shall be found-yea, christian men, and believers in a final state of rewards and punishments-how many shall be found, who will seek to blend the two ! They desire heaven, but they love the world. They would avoid the pains of hell; but the pleasures of sin have strong and winning charms for them. And so they build up—if they think at all of the hazard, or the inconsistency of their scheme-they build up a sort of visionary time of reformation and godliness, when they will devote themselves wholly to the Lord to do his will; renouncing the ambitious projects, the mad follies, the unsatisfactory pursuits of a world, which, however they may now deceive themselves, is “ a world lying in wickedness.” With
8 Matt. vi. 24.
this vague determination, nevertheless, the many shall be satisfied. They shall say to themselves
and all things are in safety,”' whilst a “sudden destruction” may be bursting upon them; and in their sinful security they may be destroyed.
Therefore, brethren, Joshua's counsel, as also the decision of the people founded thereon, is to be read not as a resolution for the future only, not as a mere paltry measure of half obedience. When the people said unto Joshua, “We will serve the Lord,” Joshua said unto them, “ Put away therefore the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.” 1 "The heart and all the affections were to be mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts.” “ The unfruitful works of darkness” were to be at once, and utterly renounced; and the people were to “choose life,” even present good, and everlasting happiness. If, my brethren, we do really desire to 9 Commination Service. 1 Josh. xxiv. 23.