« السابقةمتابعة »
to kindle into flame and expand into eternity. Oh, that the Spirit of God may blow upon it and make it shine, until you become burning and shining lights in the place God has appointed for you to shine. The light of the wicked! Consider what this is! He may have life-he may have animation-he may, like the meteor, or that deceitful exhalation which rises over the morass and looks like a friendly light to lighten the darkness, shine boldly in your path; but, following it, you find that it suddenly leads to destruction: for when it has danced before your bewildered eyes, caught your attention, and misguided your steps, it is suddenly extinguished and you are lost. Such is the example of a wicked man, whether he keeps your company, or you observe his ways. Alas! too often are men dazzled and deluded by outward shows, imagining that others must be happy who possess wealth, or the outwardly glittering ostentations of this perishable life. No matter how wicked a man may be, say some he appears to enjoy life, and has all good things in his possession. I will follow him-I envy him his good fortune and will try to imitate him.
A wiser one than any of us, even the man after God's own heart, confesses that he had very nearly been deceived and betrayed into following the bad example of the wicked. He says, in the seventythird Psalm, "Truly, God is loving unto Israel, even unto such as are of a clean heart. Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone: my treadings had wellnigh slipt and why? I was grieved at the wicked: I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity, for they are in no peril of death; but are lusty and strong. They come into no misfortune, like other
folks, neither are they plagued like other men and this is the cause that they are so holden with pride and overwhelmed with cruelty. Their eyes swell with fatness, and they do even what they list. They corrupt others, and speak of wicked blasphemy; their talking is against the Most High. Lo! these are the ungodly, these prosper in the world, and these have riches in possession: and I said, Then have I cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocency! All the day long have I been punished and chastened every morning: yea, and I had almost said even as they; but lo! then I should have condemned the generation of thy children. Then thought I to understand this, but it was too hard for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I the end of these mennamely, how thou dost set them in slippery places, and castest them down and destroyest them. Oh! how suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end. Yea, even like a dream when one awaketh, so shalt thou make their image to vanish out of the city."
Not until we enter into the sanctuary of God-that is, into the place of wisdom, into the consideration of God's dealing with men-do we see the end of the wicked and the end of the righteous, and we are very apt to judge foolishly concerning the world and its votaries. We think too often that men like Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, must be happy, whilst such as Job must be miserable; but when we come into the sanctuary, and think of God and of His judgments, we are forcibly struck with the end of the wicked. "Oh, how suddenly do they consume, perish, and
come to a
fearful end." Their fight is put out and the spark of their fire is extinguished.
If in the early days of the ancient Church such wisdom was plainly to be discerned-if they who had not the Gospel to inspire them with promises, nor to make them dread the terrors of hell saw this-what must be our doom who have such advantages as we have of light and immortality shining as the broad day before us, if we wilfully persist in a sinful course and perish !" "For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace: for we know Him that hath said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord:" and again, "The Lord shall judge His people! It is a fearful thing to fall into hands of the living God!" (Heb. ii. 26-32.)
The wicked, under the Christian dispensation, are all such as obey not the Lord Jesus Christ nor submit themselves to the will of God, but live as they please, do as they please, regard not His Sabbaths, nor keep His commandments. From vile and flagrant sins and sinners I trust that you do, if not all, for the most part, keep yourselves aloof. Let the man be whom he may, however high or low, the Christian religion does not admit him into her sanc
tuary whilst he is living in the commission of the violation of the commandments of God. He may be called a Christian; but if he take not heed to his ways, to do that which is lawful and right, he cannot save his soul alive. His light will be put out, and his spark of fire vanish!
Let not a Christian suppose that there can be more than one God of his salvation, or that a man can be saved by the light of nature or his own particular profession of worship. "Thou shalt have none other gods but me." "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Let not the Christian imagine that he can set up an idolatrous fancy of perfection in his own mind, and teach virtue to his children's children which is not grounded upon the word of God. Let him not think that he can seek riches first and God afterwards; but let him seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all necessary riches shall be added unto him. Let not the blasphemer, the passionate man, who takes the Lord's name in vain, suppose that he can lay claim to be a Christian; for the word of our mouth and the meditation of our heart ought to be acceptable in His sight. The Christian cannot be a Sabbath breaker. The day of God's worship is to him a day of rest, reflection, and holy joy, in which his best duties are discharged, and in which he worships the God of his fathers with holy fear. A wicked man regards not the Sabbath, except it be to spend it in unprofitable idleness; and no young men do we see sooner cut off, sooner perish, or come to a more fearful end, than they who keep not God's Sabbath day holy!
A Christian honours and respects his parents; and though he loves God more than any earthly thing, yet as the love of God is the keeping of His commandments, and to honour thy father and thy mother is one of them, he may be assured that all disrespect towards them is a violation of Christian duty; and one to which a promise of long and a happy life being attached, if it be broken he may expect it to be shortened. No murderer hath eternal life
abiding in him. The adulterer is doomed to everlasting death, both in the Old and New Testament. The thief, though upon the cross forgiven upon his repentance, affords us no encouragement to steal or to tempt God until we perish. Oh, "let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may be a Christian and have to give to others in their need."
The Christian never bears false witness against his neighbour: he loves his neighbour as himself, and rejoices with him in his prosperity and mourns with him in his adversity.
The Christian is not a covetous man. Whatever men may think of the enormous speculations of the present day, men seeking everywhere to make money rapidly, I look upon all covetousness as idolatry; and, however apparently good in the eyes of men, the word of God does not admit the covetous man unto the kingdom of heaven; but says of all such,
They are cursed children who have gone astray, having a heart exercised with covetous practices; whohave forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness." "Ye, there