« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
their stars--and to other causes! When they are prospered they give credit to themselves ; "is not this great Babylon which I have builded ? for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty ?"
See that worm of the dust walking on the battlement of his palace, and talking about his power, and his majesty--making in himself a god ;--and prefering himself to Him who creates nations, and hangs the heavens beaming in glory over him.
There was a certain rich man, and he said I will pull down, I will build greater--I will say to my soul, eat, drink; thou hast much goods laid up for thee, and all was for himself! And there came a voice from heaven, thou fool !--though thou hast preferred thyself to God, yet for all this God will bring thce unto Judgment! Have you not seen cases very similar ? Do not men prefer themselves to God?
See how we love flattery!
Four hundred and fifty prophets shall stand and flatter Ahab; and he is pleased one shall tell him the truth, and he commands Amon! the Governor of the city to put him in the dungeon, and feed him on the bread and water of affliction.
The people shall shout to Herod that his is the voice of a God, and that poor man shall receive it all and be a god, till the Eternal
and hurls him into the dust of death! Let the commands of God come in the way of the human heart; and see if the head of John, the grentest prophet ever born of woman, will not be cut off !
Our preferring ourselves to God is seen--again--- In our being so troubled at the injuries which we receive and not at all troubled by those which God receives.
I can give you a case exactly in point. Saul was commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites, even their cattle; but he was so avaricious that he chose to set aside God's wishes, and follow his own. He does it. And when Samuel reproves him, what does he say?
Why, that he spared the cattle in honor of God by devoting them as sacrifices ! too religious to obey God! And when Samuel denounces the judgment of God upon his avarice, and hypocricy, is he concerned because he has dishonored God-No, not in the least, but he begs that his own honor may be provided for, and begs Samuel to honor him before the elders of Israel ! And yet this same man wanted to kill his own son, Jonathan, because he tasted a little honey in the hour of victory --not even knowing that Saul had forbidden it! So jealous for his own honor!--and so indifferent to that of God! Is not this just what human nature now is ? Let a merchant
be proved to be dishonest, and at what are he and his friends grieved ? Because God has been despised and his commands trampled on,-or because his own reputation has been tarnished ?
A child grows up in indulgence, becomes idle, vicious, wicked, and loses all character. At what is the sorrow? that he is dishonor. ing God, his Maker or his family ?
We command those under us to do so and so ;--we are offended if they do not just as we wish them to do; and yet, perhaps the same day, we break the express commands of God, and go to our pillows entirely unconcerned !
The same thing is seen again, in our dependence upon ourselves, and not upon God.
You are going to undertake this and that business; its success depends on the winds, the waves, or on a thousand circumstances which you cannot control,
And you commence it, and carry it on, trusting to your own industry, prudence, judgment, and skill without asking the direction or the blessing of God upon it! What is this, but putting yourself in the place of God, and making a god of yourself?
You thus deprive God of the adoration of your heart, of the supremacy in your souls, and thus his authority is thrown off. He receives not homage for his aid, nor thanks for his goodness.
Is this right? Is it honest towards Him--and yet is it not what men do every day? Are there not those who thus serve self, and sin against light, row against the tide, and prostitute conscience in order to serve self;--forgetting that High and lofty One whose care must every moment of our lives be with us, or we and our plans all perish ?
II. The second proposition which I propose to prove is, that men prefer not merely THEMSELVES, but any thing else to God.
To see this, consider a moment, that they think of him less than all other things.
Men will think of their business ----how they may urge it forward ; ----of their pleasures, how they may increase them ;----of their families, how they may advance them and put them forward into notice ---of their insults, how they may revenge them ;---of their wrongs, how they may redress them ;---or they will give their thoughts to reverie, and let them run waste for hours----but in all this, how few thoughts have been given to God? Why ?----why, do they think of any thing, and every thing, rather than God? Painful truth!.. because they prefer all these to him!
The corn and the wine were given to Israel to honor God with; but when they used them to indulge in gluttony and drunkenness, they perverted the gists.
The thoughts and the power of thought were given us with which to honor God; the heart should be the altar; and when you let the world take all these thoughts, you let, as an old French writer says, "the unclean birds of the air ravish the sacrifices or the altars of God, and carry them to their own nests."
Our greedy pursuit of the world, shows that we prefer any thing for our happiness rather than God.
There can be no doubt but the old proverb is as true to-day as it ever was ;----that is, “what a man pursues beyond all other things, that he esteems his chief good." This is too plain to admit of proof. If a man who might be honored and respected and useful, prefers the society of the low, the vile, and the degraded, we know, it is because he is happier there.
If a man spends his life in pursuing pleasure, we know that he esteems that his highest happiness.
Now do we not do so,----make ourselves slaves to the world,----S0 that we hardly have time to eat, or to sleep-or to think, or to serve God, so that even on the Sabbath, during the hour we spend in his courts, we can hardly keep the world and the business of the world out?
Men prefer sensual pleasures to God.
By this I mean, that you can get men to spend more thought, more time, more money in the luxuries of the table, than they give of either of these to God ;-perhaps more in one year than they give to God in all their lives.
How many would feel as if they were prodigies of goodness should they give to God as much in a single year, as they bestow upon the luxuries of the table, alone which is necessary for life, or for health !
How many spend ten times as much every year for what will gratify the taste, or the eye, as they have given to God, in all their lives !-and yet, can we pretend that we do not prefer these to God?
Need I speak of those who debase every faculty that is noble, and godlike, to pursue those pleasures which the very brutes pursue only by instinct ! these have been called "sublimated brutes,” but wrong. fully-for a brute sublimated, would be far their superiors !
They prefer God as their chief good !---No----they seek their happiness in what the mere animal leaves, in what gives joy to unclean spirits only.
Language may not name, imagination may not dwell upon, what men, who would fight a duel to prove themselves to be honorable and noble ----What such men make the object of their choice rather than the ever blessed God! The creature, in its lowest vileness is preferred to the Creator ; the world which is God's footstool, is exalted above His throne! Oh! the patience of God! while we place our desires and lusts and the basest of all things beside Him, and prefer them to Him, prefer a carcass to iminortal lise, how does He endure us!
The same thing is seen in our honoring men more than God.
Let a friend invite you to a feast, and you feel that you must go : let him invite you to visit his beautiful residence, and you must go : ----but when God invites you to meet Him morning and evening in prayer, what do you do ?----Let Hiin invite you to come to His table, and what do you do? Why do you say “ you are not worthy ;'--but he tells you His table is not for the worthy, but the unworthy, He calls not the righteous, but the sinner to repentance !
Let a inan of fair and honorable character be introduced to you, and how kindly do you treat him, honor him, and show your whole family that you honor and respect him! this is right ;----but when the Lord Jesus Christ is introduced to you do you take Him home to your family, invite Ilim to your table; honor Him before all who come to your dwelling? Why do you not? Because you prefer not to have His society!
The same thing is seen again in your honoring the instrument of your prosperity more than God.
The heathen used to worship the arms with which they obtained their victories, this was, and is still very common, because very natural. The fishermen of old used “to sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their clay,----because they preferred to honor the instrument rather than the author of their gifts. Who does not know that men will honor the instrument of their prosperity, more than Him who created the instrument? The scholar will honor the institution which educated him: the merchant the ships which brought his goods: the sportsmen his horse ;---and all men, that which is the instrument of good. Go to the bed side of the man who is just recovering from severe sickness, and see if he be not more ready to speak of his physician and his cure, than of that God whose hand alone holds the issues of life and of death?
Why do we do this, in all our relations and circumstances of life, except that we wish to shut God out of the mind as fully as possible ?
More than one king has had altars erected, and had sacrifices offered to him----as to a god? Why did they? Because the heart of man lists him up, and makes himself believe he is worthy of divine honors, No man ever felt that he was honored enough ;----for if we think well of ourselves, we naturally feel that others ought also to think well of us. But this is not all. We not only shut God out of our own hearts, but we wish to fill other hearts with ourselves---so full that God shall be shut out there also. Do you suppose that those kings who received sacrifices and incense were acting out of nature----or that others, in their circumstances, would not have done just so----and we among the rest ? The heart that would fill itselt with itself and enthrone self there,----would enthrone itself in the next heart, and the next, and in every heart in the universe ----and this would indeed displace God. When the king of Babylon cast the three men into the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual, was it because he cared for the senseless idol which he had set up, or was his wrath so hot because his anthority was not respected ?
For what has God given us food, and home and the means of enjoyment? Is it not that we may make all these things helps ----and every thing around us, helps, by which we may pass over the earth on our way to immortality.
Why do men take the creatures which God has made,..--wring groans from them, and wear them out as they minister to their pleasures ? is it because these are the ends for which God made them, or is it because, their ends are perverted ?
What is the real, actual condition of the human heart? there is a being whom the Bible denominates the devil :---he once walked on the sea of glass; among the sons of light; he was the bright, morning star: he thought he would be like God, and equal to God; he brought down the arm of omnipotence upon himself and it placed him in a world far from heaven: Does he not know that there is a God whose arm he cannot resist, whose power he cannot brave, whose throne he cannot shake, whose plans he cannot thwart? And yet he sets himself up for a god,----has altars all over the heathen world, ----tried to tempt Jesus to bend the knee to him, if only for a moment.---why does he do so? Because his heart is full of sin----and conscience cannot restrain, and hope cannot reach him, because he is a vessel full of sin, and hates, and would dethrone if possible, God himself. Does the Bible mean nothing when it thus tells us of hirn, and then tells us we are of the same seed; the seed of the serpent--that he is the god of this world, and that he works in the children of disobedience; helps thein, tempts them, blinds them, flatters them, destroys them? This is the condition of the human heart,—this is human nature sunken and fallen ;----and just as yours and mine are, unless the grace of God has created us anew in Jesus.