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above them, who tremble and are “in great fear” when the dark tempest lowers.
Thirdly: As critical in its results. How much depends on moments of conviction! They are frequently critical. Little as many regard them they are often the turning point of destiny. It does not seem that Rehoboam ever paused in his downward career from this time forward. Convictions are shaken off, the heart is hardened, conscience is seared, and the trifler perishes. Oh had he been wise! Had he paused and repented ! But he hesitated only for a moment, went on and was destroyed!“ Because I have called,” &c.
In the text we have :
III. MORAL INFIRMITY. There was a want of decision in Rehoboam. His convictions led him to do many things, but there was one thing he did not do ; he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. This was his ruin as it is that of many. Whence is this? It may be traced :
First : To sensual habits. Nothing is more adverse to religious decision than sensuality. This was one source of moral weakness in Rehoboam. He was a sensualist. (Chron. xi. 18;-23. 1 Kings xiv. 21 — 24.) He indulged in “fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” These are the worst foes of man's spiritual well-being. Stumbling-blocks, over which many, in spite of their convictions stagger into hell.
Secondly. To evil companionship. The associates a man chooses have a powerful influence on his character. They may promote or hinder salvation. It is recorded of Rehoboam “ He forsook the counsel the old men gave him, and took counsel with the young men that were brought up with him.” (ch. x. 8.) He preferred for his companions the young, the gay, the frivolous ;—" lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” What wonder that “he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord !” “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity to God? Whosoever, therefore," &c.
Thirdly: To Satanic temptation. In the vacillation of this man we mark the influence of the Evil One.
The Tempter had to do with his decision. He is ever on the alert to extinguish the spark which has been kindled in the soul, to drown the voice of conscience, to administer opintes to those who show signs of awakening. He is ever active to prevent man from preparing his heart to “seek the Lord ;"—to keep him halting between two opinions, till the die is cast, and it is too late to repent.
"Be sober, be vigilant ; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he
devour.” In the text we have :
They sin :
your sin re
IV. ACCUMULATED GUILT.
“ He did evil because," &c. This sin was parent of a host-a legion of sins. Observe, he sinned in this neglect of known duty, and in what resulted from it. So do all who pursue a like course.
First : In resisting their convictions. In this very act there is deeply aggravated guilt. It is trampling on known duty, extinguishing divine light in the soul, resisting and quenching the Spirit. “This is the condemnation that light is come into the world,” &c. “ If ye were blind ye should have no sin; but now ye say, we see ;
therefore maineth.” “ Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.”
Secondly : In self-depravation. Trifling with convictions depraves the heart. It is a preparation for further, bolder transgressions ;-it is a hardening process. Rehoboam's instability was not only evil, but the cause of evil-not only sin, but the cause of many sins. “Those are easily drawn by Satan to any evil who are wavering and inconstant in that which is good, and are never persuaded to make religion their business.” (Matthew Henry.) “Beware lest any
of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." "To-day, if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts.”
Thirdly : The depravation of others. Rehoboam did evil," in that through his guilty conduct the people were corrupted. “ And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord,” &c. (1 Kings, xiv. 22—24.) “One sinner destroyeth much good.” Decision for God is an effective means of influencing others, and of promoting their salvation ; but he who neglects the dictates of truth and conscience, and sins against the light, does all that man can do to encourage sin, and ruin souls.
Beware of indecision; it is a soul-enslaving, soul-destroying evil. "
Prepare thine heart to seek the Lord.” Seek Him with full purpose of heart.
S. A. BROWNING.
SUBJECT :-Moral Scholarship.
“Not that I speak in respect of want : for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”—Philip. iv. 11.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-ninth. These words suggests three general truths :
I, THAT CHRISTIANS GENERALLY ARE SUBJECT TO VICISSITUDES DURING LIFE. It was so with the apostle ;—"whatsoever state,” &c. Life is a chequered scene.
In our progress we are constantly passing from one state to another; we do not continue a day in exactly the same condition. We change in mind, body, and circumstances. We are not conscious of this, because the transitions are generally so imperceptible.
The apostle refers here, however, to outward circumstances; and how very changeable are these! To-day we may be enjoying the blessings of friendship, we may be surrounded with a large circle of those whom we love and those who love us ; to-morrow we may stand broken-hearted and disconsolate over their corpse.
Our life is here a scene of vicissitude, we are perpetually alternating from friendship to bereavement, from pleasure to pain, from prosperity to adversity, from health to sickness, from the sunshine to the storm.
We should not forget that these vicissitudes are not accidents—these changes are not chances ; but they make up one great organized system of discipline for us as fallen creatures. They are adapted to teach us our absolute inability to guide our own affairs ; that the way of man is not in himself ; to teach us our entire dependence upon that God in whose hand our times are, and with whom are all our ways; to teach us that this is not our rest ; that here we are like maripers heaving about on the restless sea, urged on by the breeze of circumstances to the great haven of Eternity.
II. THAT UNDER ALL THESE VICISSITUDES WE SHOULD POSSESS THE SPIRIT OF CONTENTMENT. A Christian, who has passed through the various vicissitudes of life, and whose faith like the tree in the storm has gained strength in every blast, whose hopes have brightened while the clouds of life were lowering, and wbose experience is enlightened, rich, and mellow, is one of the noblest sights on earth. To talk with such a man is an unmistakeable privilege ; to hear him relate how he acquired one truth after another, how gradually he reached his present point, and how delightful the state of mind he then possessed, would be one of the richest treats we could have.
We have such a man before us, and he gives us his experience-_“I have learnt.”
Some persons are discontented in every state--discontented with their business, their homes, their servants, their Church
- God himself cannot please them. They are not pleased with themselves. What is contentment? (1) It is not insensibility. There are some persons lauded for their contentment who ought to be pitied, or rather condemned, for their obduracy. They have no feelings; outward circumstances make but little impression upon them. This was not the contentment of Paul ;- he was full of tender feeling. Insensibility, though at one time lauded by certain philosophers as a virtue, is in reality a crime. It is the production of sinnot of God. (2) It is not indifference to the condition of others. At the time that the apostle used these words he was confined in a dungeon, situated not far from the palace of the greatest tyrant that ever wore the form of man. There in chains and
darkness, surrounded on every hand by heart-rending tokens of barbarous sufferings, that had been inflicted on many who had paced that damp floor over which he dragged his heavy chains ; expecting every day, it may be, to be dragged forth to amuse the merciless crowd of spectators in the Amphitheatre. In the midst of all these personal sufferings he still felt a deep interest in others. He did not, as some, turn his own soul intently on his own sufferings,—but thought of others; and he exclaimed, “yea, if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” (3) It is not a satisfied complacency either with our own moral condition or that of the world. The apostle did not count himself to have attained, &c. And his view of the world too was most distressing. As he stood upon “Mar's Hill” his spirit was “stirred within him.” He had his moral distractions and distresses; he was in a strait between two; he oscillated in mind between two worlds ; like a vessel riding at anchor, he rolled from side to side by force of wind and wave.
It is difficult to give a positive, clear and full definition of this “contentment.” It is a state of mind in which there is an unmurmuring acquiesence in all the arrangements of Heaven; a state of mind springing from a cheerful, filial, trust in God, and a generous benevolence for the world.
III. THAT THIS SPIRIT OF CONTENTMENT IS THE RESULT OF LEARNING. It is not inherent, but attained; not miraculously imparted but personally acquired. There is no attainment equal to this. To have a large acquaintance with physical, moral, and historical facts with an insight into their philosophy; to be instructed in the principle of the languages in which mankind have given utterance to their thoughts and emotions; these are important attainments; but the man that can hold his spirit in sublime tranquility amid all the commotions of time is the man of true attainment.
But how can this be attained ? How did the apostle learn it? There are few questions of more practical importance than this.