« PreviousContinue »
II. The evil of this way of walking. I shall fum up this in these four things.
1. It is a walking highly dishonourable and offensive to God : Rev. iii 15. 16. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” How could an affectionate husband take it, to have his wife gadding after other lovers? And, O how difhonourable is it to God, that those who have given themselves away to him should be found hanging about the doors of the world, and their lufts! Friends' wounds pierce deepest ; and therefore many do more difhonour God, and disgrace religion, by their uneven walk, their halting betwixt two opinions, than if they should go over entirely to the devil's fide in the world : Ezek. xx. 39. « As for
0 house of Israel! thus faith the Lord God, Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts and with your idols."
2. It is a walking which is moft grievous and offensive to the serious and godly. With what concern does Elijah complain of it here ! They are a heavy burden in the ship of the church of God; and the lighter they are in their fleeting and flowing, the heavier their case lies on serious fouls : Pfal. lv. 12. 13. 14. “ For it was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have borne it'; neither was it he that hated me, that did magnify himself against me, then I would have hid myself from him. But it was thou, a man, mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company
." And no wonder, considering that the name of God is blafphemed by reason of such · walkers ; and they are the worst enemies religion has : Phil. iii. 18. “ For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Chrift; whose end is deftruction, whose god is their belly, and who mind earthly things." When two armies are in the field, as is the case betwixt Christ and the devil, absolute deferters are dangerous ; but such as remain in the camp, yet keep up a correspondence with the enemy, are still more so.
-3. It is a walking which is hardening to the wicked : Prov. xxviii. 4. They that forsake the law, praise the wicked.”. They betray the cause of religion to them, and open their mouths to blafpheme and reproach the way of God: Rom. ii. 23. 24. “ Thou that makeft thy boait of the law, through breaking the law dishoncurest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles, through you, as it is written.” Do
you think that your coming to a communion-table, your waiting on ordinances, public, private, or secret, will ever commend the way of the Lord to onlookers, while you make not conscience of tender walking in the whole of your conversation, even in your natural and civil actions ? Nay, truly, the sinful liberty you take to yourselves, even as others, will make your religion loathsome to them. I have found some have been restrained from the table of the Lord by observing the unsuitable walk of others after a communion; but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.
Lastly, It is a walking which is ruining to one's own soul. The generation that wandered in the wilderness died there; and waverers betwixt the Lord and their idols fall into the mire at length: Hof. vi. 4. 5. “ What shall I do unto thee, O Judah? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew, it goeth away. Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets, I have llain them by the words of my mouth ; and my judgements are as the light that goeth forth." It is to thofe that are faithful unto the death only that the crown of life is promised, Rev. ii. 10. İnstability in the good ways of the Lord vexeth the Holy Spirit; whereupon he departs, then the soul withers, and is cast over the hedge at length. Many walk in a round betwixt their lusts and their duties while they live ; and when they go out of the world, they are just where they were when they came into it.
As they were born in fin, so they die in it, and so tumble down into the pit.--I shall now point out,
III. The causes of this unsteady walking, going from side to side betwixt the Lord and idols ; together with the remedies.
1. The want of a right set of the heart at first, is one cause : Pfal. Ixxviii. 37. “ For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfaft. in his covenant.” While these in the text had two opinions, and were not determined to one of them, they could not but halt betwixt the two. The heart that is never once freely separate from sin, so as to : see it to be an evil, and the greatest evil, and to hate it for itself, that is, for its contrariety. to God's.. holy nature and law, will make at best but a halting professor. If the duties of religion be desireable to them for one reason, the enjoyment of their lufts is so for another'; and thus, the heart being divided, the life is so too:
In this case the remedy is to come once freely away to the Lord Christ, from all
lusts and idols : 2 Cor. vi. 17.
« Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, faith the Lordy
and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.” They who once thus part freely, will never halt again betwixt the two. Though they may have a weak fide by reason of indwelling corruption, yet they have a sound side too, that is combating with that weakness : Gal. v. 17. “ For the flesh lufteth against the spirii, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” And they are in consequence longing for the victory : Rom. vii. 24. “O! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Unite with Jesus Christ, and you will walk in him ; for where he is once freely chosen for a pilot to the ship, the finner's course through the fea of this world will be completely managed ; that foul will never be fhipwrecked.
be in earnest not to halt any more, I give you an advice:- As foon as ye get home after this work is over, retire by yourselves, and consider where your weak fide lies, what is that luft or lusts that is most likely to draw you over to its fide again, and having feen it, consider how your soul stands affected to it, and labour by all means to make sure a final parting with it in your heart; that is, honestly and resolutely before the Lord to give up with it again for ever. for the void space which the renouncing that sweet inorfel will make in your heart, fill it up
with Christ himself, by taking him expressly in the room of that idol : Matth. xiii. 45. 46. “ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant-manı feeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and fold all that he had, and bought it."
To this fome may object, Is there any faint in the world that is free of halting? Answ. There is
a great difference betwixt the Chriftian's halting through weakness, and the halting through wickedness spoken of in the text, which is really more than halting, properly so called. The one is a halting like him that is lame of one leg, the other like him that is lame of both. The Christian, whatever weakness he is attended with in his walk, is absolutely determined for God and holiness, in opposition to all his idols : the hypocrite wants this resolution of heart. The former longs, fighs, groans, and strives to get the victory over corruption; is never for truce and reconciliation betwixt the Lord and lufts, but for the extirpation of these lufts. But the latter is at bottom for both together, a reconciliation betwixt them, and cannot think to hold with the Lord without his lusts.--The Christian sinneth not with that full swing of heart the hypocrite doth. The former hath a found fide, a renewed part, which lufteth against the flesh, and so far refifts the sway to the weak fide ; whereas the latter has nothing found, and fo finneth with full consent of the will, however the conscience may reclaim and reprove.
2. Another cause is, unmortified lufts and light meeting together in the soul. An enlightened conscience puts it forward to God; unmortified, lively, reigning lusts, draw it back again. Thus one. is toffed from side to side, as in the case of Pilate and Balaam: Job, xxiv. 13. “ They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof." Lusts rise against light, and thrust a man out of the paths thereof. It is with them as with David, in the battle against Absalom. Upon the one hand, it was hard to lose a kingdom ; on the other hand, to lose a Son : “ Therefore deal gently," says he, “ with Absalom.” Even fo here, they