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above gold ; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”*

Finally. The persons on whose mind the influence of the word is transient, are also included in the representation before us. That is not obedience to Christ, which flows from momentary excitement and circumstances, tather than from principle. Doubtless many have been impressed first of all by events which have alarmed their fears, or allured their hopes, who have afterwards received the truth in love, and from a principle of cordial obedience to him who has required it. But of these persons we do not speak; it is of such as are now and then religious, just as they happen to feel. These individuals are forcibly described in the parable of the sower, and compared to the soil overgrown with noxious weeds, or so full of stones as to prevent the seed striking root. “ But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it: yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and bye he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word ; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”+ Have you never seen the case exemplified by the hearers of the gospel? Have not many among you felt most deeply the arrow of conviction, and have not your passions been often roused by the faithful and fervent application of the truth, and yet have presently subsided and left you the same persons as before? If the interests of the soul, the joys of heaven, the smile and presence of the ever-blessed God, be worth obtaining, then I beseech you, guard against all such fickleness and versatility of mind. It will do nothing for you in the matter of salvation. The lips of infinite wisdom have declared, that “ he who endureth to the end shall be saved." Observe,

* Psalm cxix. 127, 128.

+ Matt. xiii. 20-22.


This is described in the most significant and forcible language. It is said, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” Let us endeavour to realize this affecting scene. The fabric is raised, and the proprietor enters it as his future home. For awhile all is pleasant and delightful. The summer's sun sheds his beams upon the roof, and the balmy breeze plays around. But changes await us in every path,-winter, therefore, arrives. And now the clouds appear portentous —the storm gathers in the distance—the vivid lightnings dart through the air, and the thunder rolls along the troubled sky. The torrent falls on the earth, collects in the glen, and rushes down from the mountain's summit. The tempest comes nearer and nearer; the agitated winds expend their fury on the building above; the foundation shakes by the violence of the flood below. It is enough the habitation falls ; its overthrow is effected; the work of desolation is complete: it is swept away by the hurricane —not a stone or a timber escapes the general destruction.

Such is the figure; what is its import? By this striking representation, the Saviour sets before us the awful and irretrievable ruin of every man who erects his hopes of heaven on any thing short of the actual renovation of his nature, and the practical observance of the precepts of the moral law. The sentiment cannot be too often repeatedthat although we are not saved for the sake of our good works, we are not saved without them. Whatever we

may profess or believe, the spirit of the similitude in the text is, that there must be the performance of moral duties in the various relations of life, or we shall never be able to stand the solemn scrutiny of the judgment-day.

Now there is one circumstance which deserves particular consideration in the scene before us. It is said of the habitation in ruins, “great was the fall thereof.” But why was it great? Was it from the elevation of the precipice from which it fell? Did its shattered materials come tumbling down from the lofty summit of some cloudcapt mountain into the valley beneath? No; this was not the cause: the house stood at the base of the hill, on a bed of sand, and in a low place. Why then was the destruction terrible? I answer,-on three accounts.

First. As it regards the time of its occurrence. " It fell,” says Mr. Henry, the prince of commentators," in the storm, when the builder had most need of it, and expected it should be a shelter to him." How affecting the spectacle! Behold the alarmed proprietor eagerly hasting to his home, as to "a covert from the tempest,” in the full confidence of security and peace, till the calamity should be overpast. Ah, what disappointment, disgrace, and destruction await him! The fabric which should have been his asylum becomes his danger, and the walls which he has raised by his own hands, finally bury him beneath their ruins ! And what does this signify? It signifies, my brethren, your downfall in the very hour of need, if you build on an improper foundation. It is possible that you may be able to endure the shock of trials which may come upon you in this life; but the day of universal assize before a Judge “ whose eyes are as a flame of fire,” “ will try every man's work of what kind it is.” Miserable indeed will it be to have no solid rock, nor fortress of strength at such a time. “ For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?" No; for it is plainly affirmed in another place, that “the hypocrite's hope shall perish.” And again: “Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure."*

Secondly. It was great as to the sacrifice of property. There was a great expenditure of money, and trouble, for a purpose worse than vain. We consider young men of ample fortunes, who dissipate their patrimony “ in riotous living,” and bring disgrace and poverty upon themselves, extremely foolish and improvident; and whose fall is great. The one before us, however, is infinitely greater. See a man laying out his wealth, to his eternal loss, upon an edifice, which will not only afford him no shelter in the hour of emergency, but which will involve him in total ruin. Such is the folly of mere professors, and such will be their final overthrow. All their plans and projects, their knowledge, gifts, zeal, and high pretensions to faith, which are not erected on love to Christ, and accompanied with cordial obedience to his will, will leave them unpardoned and disappointed sinners in the day of decision. Ah! fearful event-alarming prospect! Men who bave been instrumental in building the house of God, are, nevertheless, refused admission at last into the temple above! In such a dreadful exclusion, may you never be found !

Finally. It was great, because it was irreparable. It fell when it was too late to build another; and thus to avoid, by a second superstructure, the errors of the first. Nor does a stone remain from which to commence its reparation, even if the situation were proper, and time were allowed for its erection again. And such will be the complete destruction of every false hope, when the secrets of

* Job xxvii. 8, 9. viii. 13-15.


all hearts are disclosed. “ There is no work or device in the grave whither we go.” Such foolish builders are “ driven away in their wickedness ;” and although they shall arise, yet it will be to shame and everlasting contempt.” It is this which gives importance to life and death. The mispent day cannot be recalled: the death of the sinner cannot be postponed. Prepared or not, he must depart at the call of his Judge ; and “once lost, lost for

Kiss, the Son, therefore, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little ; blessed are all they that put their trust in him.' As a man would fly from a house enveloped in flames, or in the very act of falling, with equal expedition should you escape from the certain destruction which cometh upon the disobedient. Remember the “ hiding-place,” and the

strong hold,” which the everlasting love of God has provided for man. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”+ In Him all is safety, peace, and bliss. The defence of such a Christian is “the munition of rocks: bread shall be given him, and his water shall be sure.“ The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”+

* Psalm. ii. 12.

+ 1 Cor. iil. 11.

Psalm i. 4-6.

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