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“ Because I have called, and ye refused ; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh.”6 “ Hear now this, ye foolish people, and without understanding, which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not. Fear ye not me? saith the Lord.” 7 Wherefore are ye, my brethren, more inclined to attend unto and to obey the evil example of others, the frivolous and worldly arguments of ungodly men, than gratefully to respond to the affectionate pleadings, the earnest counsel, and the powerful remonstrances of the Lord God Almighty ? “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." Though num. bers may apparently be against you, though worldly hopes, and worldly influence may plead strongly in favour of joining those who live as though God 6 Prov. i. 24-26.
7 Jer. v. 21,
were not in all their thoughts, let nothing persuade you to be of their
Be assured that God will in his own good time vindicate his own righteous cause, the cause of truth, of reason, and religion. Faction, and folly, and riot make a noise in the world, and worldly splendour and success do undoubtedly attract present and thoughtless admiration, but let not the meek spirited and the faithful be confounded thereat. God hath yet “ left him seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." And further, though we and all men should be apostates from truth, and christian righteousness, becoming utterly reprobate, yet, as said the Baptist unto certain of his hearers, “ God is able of these stones to raise
children unto Abraham."9 God's power and goodness shall not be impeached, though we may be so foolish, and so weak as to barter everlasting happiness for present pleasure, or rather for 8 1 Kings xix. 18.
9 Matt. iii. 9.
that which hath only the semblance, the mere name of pleasure, and is, in fact, anything but lasting satisfaction or true joy.
Nevertheless, how many venture to act thus ! How many run this hazard, the hazard of incurring this irretrievable loss, on the most flimsy enticement, yielding to the slightest persuasion, and even against their own better judgment. Weak and inconsistent are we, and traitors to ourselves, thus tamely and cowardly to suffer ourselves to be despoiled of our good hope, and the answer of an approving conscience; thus basely and slavishly to submit to the trammels of sin, to beled the willing victims of folly and evil. But,“my son, walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy foot from their paths."
Though the tide of evil may set strong, though “ iniquity may abound,” though “ evil men and seducers may wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," yet still we are to maintain, and to do the works of faith and righteousness. We are to give heed unto, and to be encouraged and strengthened, by these words of the Lord God, delivered by the pen of his prophet Isaiah.
“ Jlearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” It is this hope, and this assurance, my brethren, that must be our stay and support in the hour of temptation, when our own corrupt inclinations, and the example and influence of others, may be persuading us to deem lightly of this or that transgression, or to account it but a small thing to neglect this or that commandment of the Lord. “Remember the end," as it is written. “ Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely, I know," said the wise man, “that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him : but it shall not be well with the wicked.” Their riotous joy, their deceitful prosperity, their wordly impudence, shall be found perishable and worthless as stubble. “ Their root shall be as rottenness.”3 “ They shall not be able to stand in the judgment.” •
1 Isa. li. 7,8.
Therefore, brethren, attend we to the warning, and let us beguided by the counsel contained in this first chapter of Solomon's writings. Remember, yea, let us all remember, that this counsel was penned under the guidance of the unerring Spirit of divine truth, and that Solomon's words consequently are worthy of all acceptation. Would we have the answer, would we possess the treasure, of a good conscience now, would we
“ inherit a blessing,” would we arise hereafter unto “joy unspeakable and full of glory," we must
2 Eccl. viii. 12. 3 Isa. v. 24.
4 Psa. i. 6.