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must acknowledge he has not decided for him ; if he has not embraced religion, yet one thing he knows, he has not renounced it; he has always respected it. But is there any ground for this complacency? What think you of a child who says he has a respect for filial obedience, but don't obey ? Is it so much better to halt, to be lukewarm, to come to no decision ? What says Joshua ? “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose ye whom you will serve." Make any selection rather than none. Elijah? “How long halt ye between two opinions ? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. What says an infinitely higher authority than either ? “I would thou wert cold or hot ?" These all declare in favor of decision, whichever way it be. Their language is, choose, whether it be good or evil, right or wrong, God or mammon; but choose. It would appear from these passages, that, of all states of mind, in regard to religion, indecision is the most despised by God, and more than any other to be avoided by man; and on every account, and in every view of it, we should guard against it. But that it is so on some accounts, we have the express authority of inspiration for affirming. It is certainly, of all states of mind, the most unreasonable. And then how dishonoring to God to hesitate and to be undecided when his service and favor constitute one part of the alternative presented! What can be more so ? How would you regard a hild, who should be always hesitating whether to renounce your authority, or to submit to it? Would you not, on some accounts, and perhaps on the
whole, prefer that he should renounce it at once? So long as he cannot make up his mind to be subject to you, of what service is he to you, or of what credit ? Would you not as lief have a person reject you at once, as vacillate in indecision between you and another in every great and good quality of character manifestly and immensely your inferior ? What could offend you more than to be put in competition with such a one, and to have it implied that there is great difficulty in deciding on your comparative merits? And yet this the great and blessed God has to endure continually. He sees you acting as if unable to decide which is the better portion, he or the world; and which the worthier master, he or Satan. He sees you hesitating whether to give your heart to him, your creator, preserver, friend, and father, or to some corrupt creature or odious object of earth. You do not say, as some do virtually, “I will not give God my heart;" but you say what is harder to be borne by man or God, “I will think about it. I do not know what to do. I cannot make up my mind. I wish God would not demand my heart, or would be satisfied with half of it. I must have more time to determine.” And you are undecided still.
In such a case of indecision, there is a degree of decision ; in this negative state, something positive. " He that is not with me,” says Christ," is against me; not merely not with me, but against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” He who is not a friend of Jesus Christ, is not necessarily his declared and determined foe, but he is always more
than not his friend. He who vacillates between God and the world, inclines much more to the world than to God. If he indeed literally divided his heart between them, giving half to one and half to the other, and if his influence and his services were thus impartially bestowed, the case would be different, and indecision, though still hateful, would be less offensive to God.
I am reminded of something else which frequently reconciles sinners to a state of indecision. It is the impression that it will be easier to decide right hereafter than it is now. They expect to gain some advantage by deferring to decide. They suppose that a less effort and a lighter sacrifice will be necessary in deciding for God, when they shall have made a nearer approach to the grave. It is a delusion. Never were men more mistaken. If it were as they suppose, then it would follow that it is easier to become a Christian in old age than in youth. But is it so? And it would follow that there is next to no difficulty in becoming one on a death bed, which, whatever the living may say, no dying man ever testified. Is it so that the ease with which a heart will melt, is in the direct proportion of its hardness; or is it not a fact that the heart increases in hardness as long as it persists in impenitency? Is it true that the long indulgence of evil propensities does not increase their strength or that sinful inclinations are most easily overcome, when they are in their greatest strength ? one of which must be true, if the theory can be maintained that a right decision is facilitated, by being postponed. Is it a fact that age impairs avarice,
or that one loves the world less, as the time of leaving it approaches. It is not a fact. It will never be easier with any one to decide for the service of God, than it is now.
It will never require a less effort than to-day; and if the sacrifice will ever be smaller in reality, it will never appear and never be felt to be smaller than it is now. You may have less to give up hereafter, but you will never think so.
What if external circumstances should become more auspicious ? How little depends on them. How frequently are sinners converted under circum stances most unfavorable, while others under circumstances the most propitious remain unconverted. The huge obstacle is within. And it is daily rising and spreading and fixing itself more firmly; and there can be no external change for the better, to compensate for this internal change for the worse. No it is not becoming easier, it is becoming every day more difficult to make the right choice. The probability decreases, the prospect darkens daily and hourly. If one of you were assured of being within an hour of death, you would find repentance no easier than now it is, and it is a thousand to one you would die in your sins. The motives to repentance would perhaps be stronger, if indeed they can be stronger than now they are, but motives alone have never prevailed and will never prevail.
I have assigned the reasons in favor of immediate decision. And now bear with me while I state the case and distinctly tell you what I want you to do. Well, then, I want you to choose a master today. You must have one. To serve is incident to
your finite nature and dependent condition ; and
you cannot servetwo masters. God and mammon. Choose then between them. Here they are. Compare their claims and their merits and decide for the one or the other as it may seem good to you. Will you have for your Sovereign, Lord and Master, the great and good Jehovah, your beneficent creator, your un wearied benefactor, your father, or some other? Will you how to his authority, or some other's? Will you abey his laws, or be governed hy other rules? Will yon fear God or man? Take which side you please, but do take one or the other, for the arguments in favor of either cannot be equal. If it be reasonable, right, obligatory, the safer course, the more prudent part to serve God, serve him, commence his service now; if otherwise, decline his service altogether. I want you to dispose of your heart to-day, to give it away; the choice of the object I leave with you. If the claim of God to your heart be paramount, if he have the better right to it, if he has done most to deserve its affections, give it to him; if not, give it elsewhere? Place your supreme affections on that which is most deserving of them. If any creature is more excellent than God, or if you owe more to any creature, or any creature can make you happier than God, give it to him. Do not think to divide it between them. That cannot be done ; “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; know ye not that the friendship of the world, is enmity with God ?" Dispose of your heart, I say. And indeed you will do it. Its affections will, like the ivy, climb and cling to some object, if not God. It is