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He offers you
shall be my
shed blood to make atonement. But now, from bis throne of glory, he invites you to return to God.
access with confidence by faith in " “Come out from among them,” saith he," and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you;
ye sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."?
He receives them to spiritual communion with himself, and with his Father. In the ordinances of public and private prayer - in the holy Communion-in the reading or hearing of his Word-he has engaged to “be in the midst of them,” 3 and to “ manifest himself unto them as he does not unto the world.”4 Nay, he comes unsought, “ stands at the door, and knocks”. bringing countless mercies in his hand, for him who will but welcome this Friend of sinners. By spiritual communion with him, you may
soul at once comforted and sanctified, instructed and cleansed.
He receives them, finally, to his visible presence in the kingdom of his Father. “ I appoint unto you a kingdom . . that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, sitting upon thrones." 5 And again
In my Father's house are many mansions . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there
ye may be also.”6 Are these, my brethren, the words of truth and reality? Then why tarry ye any longer, if guilty sinners may hope for a reception so unmerited, so glorious as this? “Rise, he calleth you"-to repentance and conversion, to faith and pardon, to holiness and heaven! Oh, turn no longer a deaf ear to his condescending entreaties! Say—“Behold we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God.” 7 1 Eph. iii. 12. ? 2 Cor. vi. 17,18. 3 Matt. xviii. 20. 4 John xiv. 22.
5 Luke xxii. 30. 6 John xiv. 2, 3. 7 Jer. iii. 21-23.
ECCLESIASTES xi. 9.-Rejoice, O young man, in thy
youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth; and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.
It was the mournful recollection of his own follies, which led Solomon, the wise King of Israel, to address his
friends in this remarkable manner. His wisdom, though supernaturally increased by Divine inspiration, had not preserved him from making the world his idol. And he had “ received in himself that recompence of his error which was meet : " he had, on every fresh trial, found the world to be “ vanity of vanities-all vanity;” till at last he comes forth, a broken-hearted, bumbled, penitent king, to tell his disappointment-setting himself up as a beacon, to be shunned by all who would not make shipwreck of their heavenly hope. The remembrance of his youthful self-sufficiency makes him distrustful, as it may seem, of the success of a more direct admonition to his younger hearers : he therefore endeavours to arrest their attention, by the appearance of granting them every worldly gratification, on which they may have set their hearts. But how startling and solemn is his conclusion—" Know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment !”
We have here, then, in the first place,
I. AN IRONICAL PERMISSION. “ Rejoice, 0 young man, in the days of thy youth.”
1. The Permission itself is as wide, as the most eager youthful disposition could wish ; it might rather indeed be taken for a command.
“Rejoice.”—Pleasure and enjoyment are objects of universal desire ; and here the utmost measure of them is recommended. In early life, more especially, we grasp at joy, and delight in a cheerful heart. Well-you are here counselled to do this with your whole soul; nay, the counsel is repeated, as though there were some danger lest you should disregard it—"Let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth.”—Again,
“ Walk in the ways of thine heart.” Not in the ways of piety—these, as all young folks know, are gloomy and disagreeable. Not in the way recommended by parents, or Christian instructors—that is full of constraint and mortification. Not even in the way of diligence, prudence, and industry-even there too you will encounter many vexatious difficulties. No-take “ the way of thine heart.” If you
love pleasure and idleness, take it! If you love drink, take it ! If you love races, fairs, feasts-follow them all ! Or, if your pleasures be of a more decent and decorous kind, still “ walk in the way of thine heart” after wealth, honour, power, comfort: put no restraint on thy desires, but gratify them to the utmost.
“Walk in the sight of thine eyes.” Whatsoever thou seest that is pleasant, aim at it: whatever thou seest to be right, ask nobody's opinion, but follow thine own : whatever thou seest is done by others, do the same thyself. In short, let Self be thy only god ; and honour it with all thy mind, and soul, and strength.
Surely, my friends, here is licence large enough for the most greedy inclination. Methinks I hear some of you beginning to say– If all this be in the Bible, I shall like the book better than I have done : but is it really so, as it seems to say ?' No !-- it is just the contrary: the Wise man is forbidding that which he appears to recommend.
2. The bitter Irony of this permission is-or ought to be-most awakening. It tells you, that
Such is generally the Course of heedless youth. They need no prompters. Of their own accord they are too ready for follies like these ; as though there were no God, no heaven, no hell, and even no dying bed, every one turneth to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle."
Such, moreover, is the foolish Advice, which young people delight to give and receive.
“ Hand joins in hand” ! to work wickedness. Songs are made to harden the conscience, or, as they call it, to drive away care: ' and the continual cry is— Never fear! Peace,
Such, lastly, is the most fatal Curse which an angry God could pronounce, on those who are bent
the world and sin; : Take it, take it and make the best of it!' Thus he gave the people of Israel quails in his anger-and a plague together with them. Thus in his anger he gave permission that Balaam should go with the princes of Moab—which was the direct road to Balaam's destruction. Thus God
in Hosea 5_" Ephraim is joined to idols ; let him alone!” And in this sense he addresses many a carnal heart in the language of my text; as if he should say, Go now, I will no longer interfere-I will send thee I Jer. viii. 6. ? Prov. xi. 21. 3 Num. xi. 31-33. 4 Numb. xxii, 20.
5 Hosea iv, 17.
no more terrors, no pressing invitations.
Revel on in sin; forget that there is a God; live and die and perish, for I will interrupt thee no more !'
Brethren! will any one among you accept so awful a permission as this ? Yes-thousands, alas, do accept it: they live after their own heart's lust, till Justice can wait no longer. Then comes the sentence upon this barren, unfruitful soul_“ Cut it down!”1 and the next moment is hell-weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth- and that for ever !
That all this is not a mere fancy of my own, you may learn from the second part of the text ; in which you have-(and may the Lord write it on every heart!)
II. A SOLEMN WARNING: “ Know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
I can easily conceive, (for I “know the heart” of a young man,) that this will be thought a very severe warning by some here present. That frequent excuse • I meant no harm '-has doubtless risen to your lips, ready to be uttered as soon as I should say—“ Thou art the man ! You ‘cannot believe' (you say) ‘that youthful levities, or even excesses, will ever be hardly dealt with.' This, however, plainly arises from your thinking, “that God is altogether such a one as yourself”?—a thought, at once condemned by what
text. “ For all these things "--for all the usual frolics, self-indulgences, and sins of youth; for all of them, without one exception, "God will bring thee into judgment.” Yes--even" for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment;
13 and how much more, then, for unbridled lusts, appetites, and passions—for cursing and lying-for broken sabbaths, and a Gospel despised !-But let me point out, 1 Luke xiii.7. 2 Psalm 1.21.
3 Matt. xii. 36.
you hear in