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This is not mere metaphor ; it is a sober and serious fact. There is a constant tendency in a favourite pursuit to gain from time to time a greater ascendancy over us. We must all have observed this. Let us beware of it, and act under a persuasion of the meaning of the text, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
My brethren, how stands the case with us? It may be supposed, by our assembling here, and by our general conduct, that we are not in subjection to any sins of a grosser nature. We have denied our profession by no scandalous transgressions. We have not cast off the form of godliness. But have we escaped the more subtle temptations? Have we fulfilled our baptismal promise to renounce the world? I have endeavoured to show the wide extent of that temptation. It haunts us in every occupation of life. If we are not slaves to pleasure, if we form no extravagant desires of worldly splendour, in the more modest and humble occupations we may be tempted by love of the world. It prevails with us, if we allow ourselves to love with our highest affections any thing but God. We cannot at the same time love God and the world. However we may sometimes deceive ourselves, however we may often act as if we thought it possible, we must be convinced if we look into the state of our heart, that this is so. If we love the world, or any thing in the world, however disposed we may be to recognize God's authority, and to serve Him, we cannot do it.
When we engage in acts of devotion, for instance, the heart will wander from its professed business to thoughts of earth and temporal objects. When we profess to be acting from a sense of duty, worldly motives will spontaneously mix themselves with our principles; and this destroys the value of the service. The offerings of God must not be defiled nor mutilated. If we profess to offer, and withhold a part, we only expose ourselves to the lot of blasphemers. We cannot silence the voice of conscience, we have not yet quenched the acting of Divine Grace. We had meanly yielded to their fears. The pious prince had shown a sad distrust in the power of Jehovah, and had basely submitted to the unjust demands of his haughty foe. He had consented to acknowledge himself a tributary to the Assyrian. The sacred historian has recorded it to his shame, that “ Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house.
At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah, king of Judah, had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.” To such a depth of degradation may we be brought by unbelief! But the peace thus bought by sacrilege, was of brief continu
In a short time we again find the ambassadors of the rapacious invader sent to Jerusalem, to require unconditional submission, insulting the king, and blaspheming Jehovah. It was in this season of impending danger, that Isaiah appears to have delivered the prophecy which we read in his twenty-ninth and three following
chapters. It is, indeed, generally supposed to have been revealed on the occasion of Sennacherib's first invasion. But from an examination of its tone and matter, compared with the circumstances of the history, I am disposed to think that it must belong to the period of his second appearance in Judah. On the first alarm, Hezekiah and his people appear to have trusted to the effects of negotiation and submission, and to have had no thought of resistance. Their sin was an excess of dejection and alarm, rather than an excess of confidence. But when Isaiah was sent to them with this prophecy, they were breathing a spirit of resistance, and were hoping, by the aid of the Egyptians, to repel the Assyrian conqueror. The prophet reproves them for arrogance, rather than for fear. This corresponds with what we know from the history to have been actually the case at the time of the second invasion. The ambassadors of Sennacherib forcibly describe the state of things at that juncture. “ Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria,
What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words), I have counsel and strength for the war. Now, on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt.” (2 Kings xviii. 19-21). I conclude, therefore, that this striking prophecy refers to this latter period. But with whichever we connect it, we cannot fail to derive instruction from its remarkable language. A terrible enemy is at hand-already, perhaps, spreading desolation. The king and people of Judah are preparing to battle for their liberty and homes. As the peculiar people of Jehovah, they might have been expected to look to heaven for deliverance. But in spite of the outward reformation which had been effected by the pious zeal of their monarch, on this trying occasion they exhibited a worldly spirit. They are characterized in the inspired language of the prophet, as“ rebellious children, who took counsel, but not of the Lord; who covered with a covering, but not of his Spirit, that