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THE EVIL AND DANGER OF HALTING

BETWIXT TWO OPINIONS. *

SERMON XXV.

IN

1 KINGS, xyi. 21.-Elijah said, How long halt

ye betwixt two opinions ? N the ordinance of the Lord's supper, there is

to be seen Jacob's ladder, with its foot set on the earth, and the top thereof reaching unto heaven, Gen. xxviii. 12. We trust ye have been essaying to mount it, though perhaps ye are yet not far from the ground. O that ye may have freely entered upon the first step! I muft, however, warn you, whoever ye be, that are looking upwards towards the place to which the top VOL. II.

A

reaches, reaches, namely, heaven, that there is such a voice to you from heaven in our text, as came to David from the castle of Zion, when he set himself to win it, 2 Sam. v. 6. “ Except thou take

* This discourse was delivered immediately after the celebration of the Lord's Supper, in Maxton, August 3. 1718.

away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither.” 1/1, Unless the blind mind and heart that is still wavering in the choice betwixt the Lord and idols be taken away, and thou canst be determined abfolutely and finally for the Lord, ye cannot come in hither. Of this we have difcoursed already *.-There is a second voice. Except the lame feet whereby one is still going from fide to side in practice, betwixt the Lord and idols, be taken away, you cannot come in hither. To this we are now to attend, in considering,

Doct. II. That an unequal and an unsteady walk,

here-away there-away, betwixt the Lord and idols, is an unaccountable and abominable way of walking through the world.

In discourfing from this, it is proposed to shew,
I. What is to be accounted such a walking.
II. The evil of this way of walking.

III. The causes of this unsteady walking ; when we shall also point out some remedies against it.

IV. Make some improvement.--I am,

1. To fhew what is to be accounted such a walking

1. Random-walking is such a walking : Lev. xxvi. 21. “ And if ye walk contrary to me, and will not hearken unto me, I will bring seven times more plagues upon you, according to your fins." The original word, contrary, may be rendered, as by accident, at random, at all adven

tures.

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tures. There is a generation that are at best but random-customers to religion, who take no more of it than they readily meet with. Their religion fits fo light on them, that in their way through the world they take it as it comes to them. As the fashion of the time turns, they face as the stream runs about. They conform themselves to the taste and humour of whatever company they fall in with; they become a prey to every temptation, and are picked up like straying beasts by the first finder. Beware of this ; that day ye get to heaven in this way, God and Baal shall be reconciled. Set up your mark in religion, and press unto it. Lay down a principle for God, and hold by it, however times, companies, or temptations may seduce you: Phil. iii. 15. “ I press towards the mark for the prize of the high-calling of God in Chrift Jesus.” A&ts, xi, 23. “ And exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord;" that is, abide by his side with full purpose, laid down and determined beforehand.-obferve, 2. Wavering-walking is such a walking : Heb.,

«. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith, without wavering." When men are still unsettled in their way, hither, and thither, are wavering in their purposes and practice, one day for God, another for the devil, and their lufts. like men in an ague, with their hot and cold fits. by turns, at one time destroying what at another time they were building up, they are never fixed. Hence they will be one day at the table of the Lord, another at the table of drunkards. Like water-fowls, sometimes they will be foaring aloft towards heaven in the exercises of religion, and quickly again swimming in their lusts, and over head and ears in the cares, profits, pleasures, and

vanities

X. 23:

A 2.

vanities of the world. Sometimes they will aprear fo ferious in religion, that one would think they would never go back again to their finful courses ; anon, they give themselves the swing in their sinful courses, as they would never look back again to religion. Take head to this, waverers will never get up the hill to Zion: Jam. i. 6. 7. 8. “ But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tofled. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man'is unstable in all his ways." Go straight forward in the Lord's way, as one that is refolute for God and his

way:

Prov. iv. 25. 26. 27. “ Let thine eyes look right on, and let thy eye-lids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left, remove thy foot from evil.”-I observe,

3. Unequal walking is such a walking : Prov. xxvi. 7. “ The legs of the lame are not equal.” The parts of the conversation of many answer no better than a long leg and a short one do. · In the church they are faints, at home they are devils ; in their profession they are fair, in their practice they are foul and false; in their words the world is nothing, but in their affection it is their all. Their practice is made up of contradictions. They agree not with themselves, how can they witli God? They pretend piety towards God, yet make no conscience of duty, mercy, and justice towards man: Matth. xxiii. 23. « Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye pay tithe of mint, anife, and cummin, and have omitted ihe weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith : These ought ye to have done, and not left the others undone.” A wide con

science

science in fubftantials, and narrow in circumstantials of religion, is a conscience of a profane make. Beware of this; see the emblem of these folk, Prov. xxvi. 23. « Burning lips, and a wicked heart, are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.” The potsherd will be broken in pieces at length. Lábour to have your whole conversation of a piece, if ever you would see heaven : James, iii. 10. “ Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be fo.”I obferve,

4. Partial and divided walking is such a walking : Hof. x. 2. “ Their heart is divided.” They keep not with one master, but in some things serve the Lord, in other things their own lufts. They would make void the commands of God; some they will comply with, others they will not regard. They will strain at a gnat in some things, and in others swallow a camel. At a communion, or under a conviction, they say, as in Deut. v. 27. “ Speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak urto thee, and we will hear it, and do it.” But when it comes to a labouring in their work, they will resolve to do, but they cannot: Prov. xx. 4. “ The sluggard will not plow, by reason of the cold.". They hayė their particular idols of jealousy, which they can by no means part with. Beware of this ; be universal in your respect to God's commandments, otherwise you will be cloathed with shame at length : Psal. cxix. 6. “ Then shall. I not be ashamed, when I have a respect unto all thy commandments.” The straight soul says, as in ver. 128. “ I esteem all thy prem cepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way."--I shall now go on to fhew,

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