RELIGION OF PUBLIC OPINION.
For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.John 12:48.
These words were spoken of certain individuals who refusedto confess that Jesus was the Christ, because he was extremelyunpopular with the scribes and Pharisees, and principal peopleof Jerusalem.
There is a plain distinction between self-love, or the simpledesire of happiness, and selfishness. Self-love, the desire ofhappiness and dread of misery, is constitutional; it is a partof our frame as God made us, and as he intended us to be; andits indulgence within the limits of the law of God, is not sinful.Whenever it is indulged contrary to the law of God, it becomessinful. When the desire of happiness or the dread of misery becomesthe controlling principle, and we prefer our own gratificationto some other greater interest, it becomes selfishness. When,to avoid pain or procure happiness, we sacrifice other greaterinterests, we violate the great law of disinterested benevolence,it is no longer self-love, acting within lawful bounds, but selfishness.
In my last Friday evening lecture, I described a class of professorsof religion, who are moved to perform religious exercises by hopeand fear. They are moved sometimes by self-love, and sometimesby selfishness. Their supreme object is not to glorify God, butto secure their own salvation. You will recollect that this class,and the class I had described before as the real friends of Godand man, agree in many things, and if you look only at the thingsin which they agree, you cannot distinguish between them. It isonly by a close observation of those things in which they differ,that you can see that the main design of the latter class is notto glorify God, but to secure their own salvation. In that waywe can see their supreme object developed, and see that when theydo the same things, outwardly, which those do whose supreme objectis to glorify God, they do them from entirely different motives,and consequently the acts themselves are, in the sight of God,of an entirely different character.
III. Tonight, I design to point out the characteristics ofthe third class of professing Christians, who "love the praiseof men more than the praise of God."
I would not be understood to imply that a mere regard for reputationhas led this class to profess religion. Religion has always beentoo unpopular with the great mass of mankind to render it a generalthing to become professing Christians from a mere regard to reputation.But I mean, that where it is not generally unpopular to becomea professor of religion, and will not diminish popularity, butwill increase it with many, a complex motive operates the hopeof securing happiness in a future world, and that it may increasereputation here. And thus many are led to profess religion, whenafter all, on a close examination, it will be seen that the leadingobject, which is prized beyond anything else, is the good opinionof their fellow men. Sooner than forfeit this utterly, they wouldnot profess religion. Their profession turns on this. And althoughthey do profess to be sincere Christians, you may see by theirconduct, on close examination, that they will do nothing thatwill forfeit this good opinion of men. They will not encounterthe odium that they must, if they were to give themselves up toroot sin out of the world.
Observe, that impenitent sinners are always influenced by oneof two things, in all that they do that appears like religion.Either they do them out of regard to mere natural principles ascompassion or self-love principles that are constitutional inthem or from selfishness.
They are done either out of regard to their own reputationor happiness, or the gratification of some natural principle inthem, that has no moral character; and not from the love of Godin them. They love "the praise of men more than the praiseof God."
I will now mention several things by which you may detect thetrue character of the class of persons of whom I have been speaking;who make the praise of men their idol, notwithstanding they professto love God supremely. And they are things by which you can detectyour own true characters, if there are any present who properlybelong to this class.
1. They do what the apostle Paul says certain persons did inhis day, and for that reason they remained ignorant of the truedoctrine; they "measure themselves by themselves, and comparethemselves among themselves."
There are a vast many individuals, who, instead of making JesusChrist their standard of comparison, and the Bible their ruleof life, manifestly aim at no such thing. They show that theynever seriously dreamed of making the bible their standard. Thegreat question with whom is, whether they do about as many thingsin religion, and are about as pious as other people, or as thechurches around them. Their object is to maintain a respectableprofession of religion. Instead of seriously inquiring for themselves,what the Bible really requires, and asking how Jesus Christ wouldact in such and such cases, they are looking simply at the commonrun of professing Christians, and are satisfied with doing whatis commendable in their estimation. They prove to a demonstration,that their object is not so much to do what the Bible lays downas duty, as to do what the great mass of professing Christiansdo to do what is respectable, rather than what is right.
2. This class of persons do not trouble themselves about elevatingthe standard of piety around them.
They are not troubled at the fact, that the general standardof piety is so low in the church, that it is impossible to bringthe greatmass of sinners to repentance. They think the standardat the present time is high enough. Whatever be the standard atthe time it satisfies them. While the real friends of God andman are complaining of the church, because the standard of pietyis so low, and trying to wake up the church to elevate the toneof religion, it all seems to this class of persons like censoriousness,and a meddlesome, uneasy disposition, and as denoting a bad spiritin them. Just as when Jesus Christ denounced the scribes and pharisees,and leading professors of his day, they said, "He hath adevil." "Why, he is denouncing sour doctors of divinity,and all our best men, and even dares to call the scribes and phariseeshypocrites, and he tells us that except our righteousness shallexceed theirs, we can in no case enter the kingdom of heaven.What a bad spirit he has."
A large part of the church at the present day have the samespirit, and every effort to open the eyes of the church and tomake Christians see that they live so low, so worldly, so muchlike hypocrites, that it is impossible the work of the Lord shouldgo on, only excites ill will and occasions reproach. "O,"they say, "what a bad spirit he shows, so censorious, andso unkind, surely that is anything but the meek, and kind, andloving spirit of the Son of God." They forget how Jesus Christpoured out his anathemas, enough to make the hills of Judea shake,against those that had the reputation of being the most piouspeople in that day. Just as if Jesus Christ never said anythingsevere to anybody, but just fawned over them, and soothed theminto his kingdom. Who does not know that it was the hypocriticalspirit exhibited by professors of religion, that roused his souland moved his indignation, and called forth his burning torrentsof denunciation.
He was always complaining of the very people who were set upas patterns of piety, and called them hypocrites, and thunderedover their heads the terrible words, "How can ye escape thedamnation of hell!"
It is not wonderful, when so many love the praise of men morethan the praise of God, that there should be excitement when thetruth is told. They are very well satisfied with the standardof piety as it is, and think that while the people are doing somuch for Sabbath schools, and missions, and tracts, that is doingpretty well, and they wonder what the man would have. Alas! alas!for their blindness! They do not seem to know that with all thisthe lives of the generality of professing Christians are almostas different from the standard of Jesus Christ as light is fromdarkness.
3. They make a distinction between those requirements of Godthat are strongly enforced by public sentiment and those thatare not thus guarded.
They are very scrupulous in observing such requirements aspublic sentiment distinctly favors, while they easily set at naughtthose which public sentiment does not enforce. You have illustrationsof this on every side. I might mention the temperance reformation.How many there are who yield to public sentiment in this matterwhat they never would yield to God or man. At first they waitedto see how it would turn. They resisted giving up ardent spirits.But when that became popular, and they found they could do verywell with other alcoholic stimulants, they gave it up. But theyare determined to yield no farther than public sentiment drivesthem. They show that it is not their object, in joining the temperancesociety, to carry out the reform, so as to slay the monster Intemperance;but their object is to maintain a good character. They love "thepraise of men more than the praise of God."
See how many individuals there are, who keep the Sabbath, notbecause they love God, but because it is respectable. This ismanifest, because they keep it while they are among their acquaintances,or where they are known. But when they get where they are notknown, or where it will not be a public disgrace, you will findthem traveling on the Sabbath.
All those sins that are reprobated by public opinion this classof persons abstain from, but they do other things just as badwhich are not thus frowned on. They do those duties which areenforced by public opinion, but not those that are less enforced.They will not stay away from public worship on the Sabbath, becausethey could not maintain any reputation for religion at all ifthey did. But they neglect things that are just as peremptorilyenjoined in the word of God.
Where an individual habitually disobeys any command of God,knowing it to be such, it is just as certain as his soul lives,that the obedience he appears to render, is not from a regardto God's authority, or love to God, but from other motives. Hedoes not, in fact, obey any command of God. The Apostle has settledthis question. "Whosoever," says he, "shall keepthe whole law, and offend in one point, is guilty of all;"that is, does not truly keep any one precept of the law. Obedienceto God's commands implies an obedient state of heart, and thereforenothing is obedience that does not imply a supreme regard to theauthority of God.
Now, if a man's heart be right, then whatever God enjoins heregards as of more importance than anything else. And if a manregard any thing else of superior weight to God's authority, thatis his idol. Whatever we supremely regard that is our god; whetherit be reputation, or comfort, or riches, or honor, or whateverit is that we regard supremely, that is the god of our hearts.Whatever a man's reason may be for habitually neglecting anythingwhich he knows to be the command of God, or that he sees to berequired to promote the kingdom of Christ, there is demonstrationabsolute that he regards that as supreme.
There is nothing acceptable to God in any of his services.Rest assured, all his religion is the religion of public sentiment.If he neglects any thing required by the law of God, because hecan pass along in neglect, and public sentiment does not enjoinit; or if he does other things inconsistent with the law of God,merely because public opinion does require it, it is a simplematter of fact, that it is public sentiment to which he yieldsobedience, in all his conduct, and not a regard to the glory ofGod.
How is it with you beloved? Do you habitually neglect any requirementof God, because it is not sustained and enforced by public sentiment?If you are a professor of religion, it is to be presumed you donot neglect any requirement that is strongly urged by public sentiment.But, how is it with others? Do you not habitually neglect someduties? Do you not live in some practices reputable among men,that you know to be contrary to the law of God? If you do, itis demonstration absolute that you regard the opinions of menmore than the judgment of God. Write down your name, hypocrite.
4. This class of professors are apt to indulge in some sinswhen they are away from home, that they would not commit at home.
Many a man who is temperate at home, when he gets to a distance,will toss off his glass of brandy and water at the table, or stepup to the bar of a steam-boat and call for liquor without shame;or if they are in Europe, they will go to the theater. When Iwas in the Mediterranean, at Messina, a gentlemen asked me ifI would go to the theater with him. "What! I go to the theater?A minister go to the theater?" "Why," said he,"you are away from home, and no one would know it.""But would not God know it?" It was plain that he thought,although I was a minister, I could go to the theater when I wasaway from home. No matter if God knew it, so long as men did notknow it. And how should he get that idea, but by seeing ministerswho would do just such things?
5. Another development of the character of these individualsis, that they indulge themselves in secret sin.
I am now speaking of something, by which you may know yourselves.If you allow yourselves in any sins secretly, when you can getalong without having any human being know it, know that God seesit, and that he has already written down your name, hypocrite.You are more afraid of disgrace in the eye of mortals, than ofdisgrace in the eye of God. If you loved God supremely, it wouldbe a small thing to you that any and every body else knew yoursins, in comparison with having them known to God. If temptedto any such thing, you would exclaim, "What! shall I commitsin under the eye of God?"
6. They indulge in secret omissions of duty, which they wouldnot dare to have known to others.
They may not practice any secret sins, or indulge in thosesecret pollutions that are spoken of, but they neglect those duties,that if they were known to neglect, it would so called disreputableto their Christian character. Such as secret prayer for instance.They will go to the communion yes, to the communion! and appearto be very pious on the Sabbath, and yet, as to private piety,they know nothing of it. Their closet for prayer is unknown toGod or man. It is easy to see that reputation is their idol. Theydread to lose their reputation more than to offend God.
How is it with you? Is it a fact, that you habitually omitthose secret duties, and are more careful to perform your publicduties than private ones? Then what is your character?
Do you need to be told? "They loved the praise of menmore than the praise of God."
7. The conscience of this class of persons seems to be formedon other principles than those of the gospel.
They seem to have a conscience in those things that are popular,and no conscience at all on those things that are not requiredby public sentiment. You may preach to them ever so plainly, theirduty, and prove it ever so clearly, and even make them confessthat it is their duty, and yet so long as public sentiment doesnot require it, and it is not a matter of reputation, they willcontinue on in the same way as before. Show them a "Thussaith the Lord," and make them see that their course is palpablyinconsistent with Christian perfection, and contrary to the interestsof the kingdom of Christ, and yet they will not alter. They makeit manifest that it is not the requirement of God they regard,but the requirement of public opinion. They love the praise ofmen more than the praise of God.
8. This class of persons generally dread, very much, the thoughtof being considered fanatical.
They are ignorant, practically, of a first principle in religion,that all the world is wrong! That the public sentiment of theworld is all against God, and that every one who intends to serveGod must in the first instance set his face against the publicsentiment of the world. They are to take it for granted, thatin a world of rebels, public sentiment is as certainly wrong asthat there is a controversy with God. They have never had theireyes open to this fundamental truth, that the world is wrong,and that God's ways are directly over against their ways. Consequently,it is true, and always has been true, that "all that willlive godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Theyshall be called fanatical, superstitious, ultras, and the like.They always have been, and they always will be, as long as theworld is wrong.
But this class of persons will never go further than is consistentwith the opinions of worldly men. They say they must do this andthat in order to have influence over such men. Right over againstthis is the course of the true friends of God and man. Their leadingaim is to reverse the order of the world, and turn the world upsidedown, to bring all men to obey God, and all the opinions of mento conform to the word of God, and all the usages and institutionsof the world to accord with the spirit of the gospel.
9. They are very intent on making friends on both sides.
They take the middle course always. They avoid the reputationof being righteous over-much, on the one hand, and on the otherhand, of being has or irreligious. It has been so for centuries,that a person could maintain a reputable profession of religion,without ever being called fanatical. And the standard is stillso without ever being called fanatical. And the standard is stillso low, that probably the great mass of the Protestant churchesare trying to occupy this middle ground. They mean to have friendson both sides. They are not set down as reprobates on the onehand, nor as fanatics or bigots on the other. They are "fashionableChristians!" They may be called fashionable Christians fortwo reasons. One is, that their style of religion is popular andfashionable; and the other is, that they generally follow worldlyfashions. Their aim in religion is not to do anything that willdisgust the world. No matter what God requires, they are determinedto be so prudent as not to bring on them the censures of the world,nor offend the enemies of God. They have manifestly more regardto men than to God. And if they are ever so circumstance thatthey must do that which will displease their friends and neighbors,or offend God, they will offend God. If public sentiment clasheswith the commands of God, they will yield to public sentiment.
10. They will do more to gain the applause of men than to gainthe applause of God.
This is evident from the fact, that they will yield obedienceonly to those requirements of God which are sustained by publicopinion. Although they will not exercise self-denial to gain theapplause of God, yet they will exercise great self-denial to gainthe applause of men. The men that gave up ardent spirits, becausepublic sentiment rendered it necessary, will give up wine also,whenever a public sentiment sufficiently powerful shall demandit; and not till then.
11. They are more anxious to know what are the opinions ofmen about them, than to know what is God's opinion of them.
If one of this class is a minister, and preaches a sermon,he is more anxious to know what the people thought of it, thanto know what God thought of it. And if he make anything like afailure, the disgrace of it with men cuts him ten times more thanthe thought that he has dishonored God, or hindered the salvationof souls. Just so with an elder, or a member of the church, ofthis class. If he pray in a meeting, or exhort, he is more concernedto know what is thought of it, than to know how God is pleased.
If such a one has some secret sin found out, he is vastly moredistressed about it because he is disgraced than because God isdishonored. Or if he fall into open sin, when he comes to be metwith it, he cares as much again about the disgrace as about thesin of it.
They are more anxious about their appearance in the eyes ofthe world, than in the eyes of God. Females of this characterare vastly more anxious, when they go to church, how the bodyshall appear in the eyes of men, than how the heart shall appearin the eyes of God. Such a one will be all the week engaged ingetting everything in order, so as to make her person appear toadvantage, and perhaps will not spend half an hour in her closet,to prepare her heart to appear before God in his courts. Everybody can see, at a glance, what this religion is, the moment itis held up to view. Nobody is at a loss to say what that man'sor that woman's name is it is hypocrite. They will go into thehouse of God with their hearts dark as midnight, while every thingin their external appearance is comely and decent. They must appearwell in the eyes of men, no matter how that part is on which Godfixes his eye. The heart may be dark, and disordered, and polluted,and they care not, so long as the eye of man detects no blemish.
12. They refuse to confess their sins in the manner which thelaw of God requires, lest they should lose their reputation amongmen.
If they are ever required to make confession of more than theythink consistent with their reputation, they are more anxiousas to how it will affect their character, than to know whetherGod is satisfied.
Search your hearts, you that have made confessions, and seewhich most affects your minds, the question what God thought ofit, or what men thought of it. Have you refused to confess whatyou knew God required, because it would hurt your reputation amongmen? Will not God judge your hearts? Only be honest now, and letit be answered.
13. They will yield to custom what they know to be injuriousto the cause of religion, and to the welfare of mankind.
A striking instance of this is found in the manner of keepingnew year's day. Who does not know that the customary manner ofkeeping new year's day, setting out their wine and their richcake and costly entertainments, and spending the day as they do,is a waste of money, hurtful to health, and injurious to theirown souls and to the interests of religion?
And yet they do it. Shall we be told that persons who willdo this when they know it is injurious, supremely love God? Icare not who attempts to defend such a custom, it is wrong, andevery Christian must know it to be so. And those who persist init when they know better, demonstrate that a supreme regard toGod is not their rule of life.
14. They will do things of doubtful character, or things thelawfulness of which they strongly doubt, in obedience to publicsentiment.
You will recollect that on the evening of the first day ofthe year I took up this subject, and showed that those who dothings of doubtful character, of the lawfulness of which theyare not satisfied, are condemned for it in the sight of God.
15. They are often "ashamed" to do their duty, andso much ashamed that they will not do it.
Now when a person is so much ashamed to do what God requiresas not to do it, it is plain that his own reputation is his idol.How many do you find who are ashamed to acknowledge Jesus Christ,ashamed to reprove sin in high places or low places, and ashamedto speak out when religion is assailed! If they supremely regardedGod, could they ever be ashamed of doing their duty? Suppose aman's wife were calumniated, would he be ashamed to defend hiswife? By no means. If his children were abused, would he be ashamedto take their part? Not if he loved them; it would not be shamethat would deter him from defending his wife or children. If aman was friendly to the administration of the government of hiscountry, and heard it calumniated, would he be ashamed to defendit? He might not think it expedient to speak, for other reasons;but if he was a true friend to the government, he would not be"ashamed" to speak in its behalf, anywhere.
Now such persons as I am speaking of, will not take decidedground when they are among the enemies of truth, where they wouldbe subject to reproach for doing it. They are very bold for thetruth when among its friends, and will make a great display oftheir courage. But when put to the trial, they will sell the LordJesus Christ, or deny him before his enemies, and put him to openshame, rather than rebuke wickedness, or speak out in his causeamong his enemies.
16. They are opposed to all encroachments on their self-indulgence,by advancing light on practical subjects.
They are much disturbed by every new proposal that draws ontheir purses, or breaks in upon their habitual self-indulgence.And you may talk as much, and preach as much in favor of it asyou please, there is only one way to reach this kind of people,and that is by creating a new public sentiment. When you havebrought over, by the power of benevolence and of conscience, asufficient number in the community to create a public sentimentin its favor, then they will adopt your new proposals, and notbefore.
17. They are always distressed at what they call the "ultraism"of the day.
They are much afraid the ultraism of the present day will destroythe church. They say we are carrying things too far, and we shallproduce a reaction. Take, for instance, the Temperance Reformation.The true friends of temperance now know, that alcohol is the samething, wherever it is found, and that to save the world and banishintemperance, it is necessary to banish alcohol in all its forms.The pinch of the Temperance Reformation has never yet been decided.The mass of the community have never been called to any self-denialin the cause. The place where it will pinch is, when it comesto the question, whether men will exercise SELF-DENIAL, to crushthe evil. If they may continue to drink wine and beer, it is noself-denial; to give up ardent spirits. It is only changing theform in which alcohol is taken, and they can drink as freely asbefore.
Many friends of the cause, when they saw what multitudes wererushing into it, were ready to shout a triumph. But the real questionis not yet tried. And multitudes will never yield, until the friendsof God and man can form a public sentiment so strong as to crushthe character of every man who will not give it up. You will findmany doctors of divinity and pillars of the church, who are ableto drink their wine, that will stand their ground, and no commandof God, no requirement of benevolence, no desire to save souls,no pity for bleeding humanity, will move such persons, until youcan form a public sentiment so powerful as to force them to it,on penalty of loss of reputation. For they love the praise ofmen.
And it is a query now in my mind, a matter of solemn and anxiousdoubt, whether in the present low state of piety and decline ofrevivals of religion in the church, a public sentiment can beformed, so powerful as to do this. If not, we shall be drivenback. The Temperance Reformation, like a dam of sand, will beswept away, the floodgates will be opened again, and the worldwill go reeling down to hell. And yet thousands of professorsof religion, who want to enjoy public respect and at the sametime enjoy themselves in their own way, are crying out as if theywere in distress at the ultraism of the times!
18. They are often opposed to men, and measures, and things,while they are unpopular and subject to reproach; and when theybecome popular, fall in with them.
Let an individual go through the churches in any section, andwake them up to a revival of religion, and while he is littleknown, these persons are not backward to speak against him. Butlet him go on, and gain influence, and they will fall in and commendhim and profess to be his warmest friends. It was just so withJesus Christ. Before his death, he had a certain degree of popularity.Multitudes would follow him, as he went through the streets, andcry "Hosanna, Hosanna!" But observe, they never wouldfollow him an atom farther than his popularity followed him. Assoon as he was arrested as a criminal, they all turned round andbegan to cry, "Crucify him, crucify him!"
This class of persons, as they set with the tide one way, whena man is reproached, so they will set with the tide the otherway when he comes to be honored. There is only one exception.And that is, when they have become so far committed to the opposition,that they cannot come round without disgrace. And then they willbe silent, until another opportunity comes up for letting outthe burning fires that are rankling within them.
Very often a revival in a church, when it first begins, isopposed by certain members of the church. They do not like tohave such things carried on, they are afraid there is too muchanimal excitement, and the like. But the work goes on; and by-and-bythey seem to fall in and go with the multitude. At length therevival is over, and the church grows cold again, and before longyou will find this class of persons renewing their oppositionto the work, and as the church declines they press their opposition,and perhaps, in the end, induce the church itself to take groundagainst the very revival which they had so much enjoyed. Thisis the very way in which individuals have acted in regard to revivalsin this country. There are many such cases. They were awed bypublic sentiment and made to bow down to the revival, while itwas in its power, but by-and-by, as the revival declines, theybegin to let out the opposition that is in their hearts, and whichwas suppressed for a time because the revival was popular.
It has been just so in regard to the cause of missions, ina degree, and if anything should turn up, unfavorable to missions,so as to break the present power of public sentiment in theirfavor, you would find plenty of these fair weather supportersturning to the opposition.
19. If any measure is proposed to promote religion they arevery sensitive and scrupulous not to have anything done that isunpopular.
If they live in a city, they ask what will the other churchesthink of such a measure? And if it is likely to bring reproachon their church or their minister, in view of the ungodly, orin view of the other churches, they are distressed about it. Nomatter how much good it will do, or how many souls it will save,they do not want to have anything done to injure the respectabilityof their church.
20. This class of persons never aim at forming a public sentimentin favor of perfect godliness.
The true friends of God and man are always aiming at formingpublic sentiment, and correcting public sentiment, on all pointswhere it is wrong. They are set, with all their hearts, to searchout all the evils in the world, and to reform the world, and driveout iniquity from the earth. The other class are always followingpublic sentiment as it is, and feeling after the course of thetide, to go that way, shrinking back from everything that goesin the face of public sentiment. And they are ready to brand asimprudent, or rash, any man or anything, that goes to stem thetide of public sentiment and turn it the other way.
1. It is easy for persons to take credit for their sins, andmake themselves believe certain things are acts of piety, whichare in fact only acts of hypocrisy.
They do the things that outwardly pertain to piety, and theygive themselves credit for being pious, when their motives areall corrupt and hollow, and not one of them drawn from a supremeregard to God's authority. This is manifest from the fact thatthey do nothing except where God's requirements are backed upby public sentiment. Unless you aim to do all your duty, and yieldobedience in every thing, the piety for which you claim creditis mere hypocrisy, and is in fact sin against God.
2. There is a great deal more apparent piety in the churchthan there is real piety.
There are many things which sinners suppose are good but whichare abominable in the sight of God.
4. But for the love of reputation and the fear of disgrace,how many there are in the church, who would break out into openapostasy.
How many are there here, who know you would break Out intoopen vice, were it not for the restraints of public sentiment,thefear of disgrace, and the desire to gain the credit of virtue?Where a person is virtuous from a regard to the authority of God,whether public sentiment favor it or frown upon it, that is truepiety. If otherwise, they have their reward. They do it for thesake of gaining credit in the eyes of men, and they gain it. Butif they expect any favor at the hand of God, they will assuredlybe disappointed. The only reward which he will bestow upon suchselfish hypocrites is, that they may be damned.
And now I wish to know how many of you will determine to doyour duty, and all your duty, according to the will of God, letpublic sentiment be as it may? Who of you will agree to take theBible for your rule, Jesus Christ for your pattern, and do whatis right, in all cases, whatever man may say or think? Every onethat is not willing to take this ground must regard himself asa stranger to the grace of God. He is by no means in a state ofjustification.
If he is not resolved upon doing what he knows to be right,let public sentiment be as it may, it in proof positive that heloves the praise of men more than the praise of God.
And let me say to the impenitent sinners present. You see whatit is to be a Christian. It is to be governed by the authorityof God IN ALL THINGS, and not by public sentiment, to live notby hopes and fears, but by supreme consecration of yourself untoGod. You see that if you mean to be religious, you must countthe cost. I will not flatter you. I will never try to coax youto become religious, by keeping back the truth. If you mean tobe Christians, you must give yourselves wholly up to Christ. Youcannot float along to heaven on the waves of public sentiment.I will not deceive you on this point.
Do you ask, sinner, what is to become of all these professorsof religion, who are conformed to the world, and who love thepraise of men more than the praise of God? I answer They willgo to hell, with you, and with all other hypocrites. Just as certainas that the friendship of the world is enmity with God.
Wherefore, come out from among them, my people, and be ye separate,and I will receive you saith the Lord, I will be a Father to you,and ye shall be my sons and daughters. And now, who will do it?In the church and among sinners, who will do it? Who? Who is onthe Lord's side? Who is willing to say, "We will no longergo with the multitude to do evil, but are determined to do thewill of God, in all things whatsoever, and let the world thinkor say of us as it may." As many of you as are now willingto do this, will signify it by rising in your places before thecongregation, and will then kneel down, while prayer is offered,that God would accept and seal your solemn covenant to obey Godhenceforth in every thing, through evil report and through goodreport.
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