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doom of those of whom it is written, "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God"." Let those who have abundance, remember this; and let me tell the poorest also, that the case would have been just the same if the man had forgotten God in the enjoyment of ever so small a worldly portion.

It seems, however, hardly a sufficient answer to the question, Why do men throw their souls away with their eyes open? to say, that they are tempted by prospect of worldly gain. For why should such things, it may be inquired further, have power to tempt them? In the world, the hope of a small gain never tempts a man certainly to forego a great gain; why then should the best things in the world be taken by men in exchange for their souls, seeing those very same men will say, if they are asked, that the world passeth away like a shadow, but the soul abideth for ever. The cause is this: there is that corruption in the human heart which gives temptation suitable entertainment; which overvalues this world, and undervalues the world to come; which loves sin and hates God and godliness; and so the judgment is overpowered by the depraved affections. Conscience cries in vain, "The thing you would do is evil, and deserves punishment;" the understanding cries in vain, "You are fighting against yourselves." The heart is evil, the tastes, the appetites, the desires are poisoned, and they will be indulged at all events. The covetous man is determined he will be rich, the sensual man that he will have his pleasure; so the voice of reason is drowned in the clamour of wayward passion. But there is a principle, by which this Divine grace, this proneness to sinful indulgence may be overcome, by which the heart may be purified, the affections restored to their proper tone, and the judgment and the conscience acquire their due ascendancy again. This principle is faith. But, it is written, “All men have not faith"." Some pretend to none, and Ps. ix. 17. Prayer Book Translation.


2 Thess. iii. 2.

some deceive themselves by a spurious counterfeit. With those who have none, or who have the counterfeit, it is as it was with Gehazi; the heart is not washed from wickedness, the affections are sinful, and they are masters; so the soul is sold for nothing, and God's enemy is served before Him. But where true faith is, the case is altered. Men have this reason for sin-that they expect gain by it. On the other hand, there is this reason, among thousands more, for godliness, that there "is great gain," as the Apostle says, attached to that". The gain of godliness has this advantage over the gain of sin, that it is eternal; whereas the pleasures of sin are but for a season. But then the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily. The gain of godliness, though it be eternal, is future; the gain of sin, though short, is present. But if men were as sure of future gain as they are of present, they would prefer great things in reversion to trifles in possession. A man parts with a small sum cheerfully to-day, if he is sure of a sevenfold return some time hence: upon a faith like this, business is transacted in the world. If people believed God's word thoroughly, would not they act in the same way in spiritual things? The Apostle says they would; "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" by means of it the believer comes to be well assured that eternal happiness, and not temporal, ought to be his aim; because he is assured by God's word that his labour after eternal happiness shall not be lost. An operative real faith would have made Gehazi content with his poverty; for he would have seen it was of little consequence how he fared in a world he was soon to leave, and his mind would have been turned to seek the treasures where his faith taught him he was to abide for ever. Faith would not have suffered him to have increased his substance by ungodly means, for he would have feared, more

7 1 Tim. vi. 6.

1 Heb. xi. 1.

See Eccles. viii. 11.


than poverty, Him that is able to cast body and soul into hell. So, "this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith 2;" with that shield before us we see things as they are; the world appears no longer more considerable than it is, merely because it is close to our eyes, nor heaven of little value, merely because it is at a distance: the thought of eternity swallows up distance; and thus the believer is assailable by worldly bribes no more. But faith has another and a still better way of working; it "worketh by love "." The true believer's soul is filled with thankfulness to the Redeemer who died for him, with admiration of his bounties, and with love to Him. The firmer his belief, the more fervent his love and gratitude, the more anxious his desire to know and do God's will. Gehazi knew that God hated robbery and covetousness; had he had faith enough in God to love Him he would have hated them too, for his heavenly Father's sake.

Naaman's riches, then, were indeed the occasions of his sin, the bribe which Satan made use of to tempt him; but that was all, there was no need he should have yielded. He might have despised them as his master did. But he was drawn aside by his own lust and enticed. Elisha was a heavenly-minded lover of God, therefore they had no charms for him; Gehazi, a worldly-minded despiser of God, therefore he could not withstand them. They were the best treasures he knew of. So the good Elisha, out of the good treasure of his heart, brought forth good fruit; and the wicked Gehazi, out of the evil treasure of his heart, evil fruit. But these two men were both born in sin alike; but Elisha was born again of the Spirit, whilst Gehazi remained unchanged. The Spirit changed Elisha by purifying his heart by faith; and faith led him to despise the world and to love God.

Would you avoid Gehazi's sin, and share Elisha's glory? If you would, this must be your unremitting prayer: "Lord, give us faith, and purify our hearts by

2 1 John v.


3 Gal. v. 6.


means of it." Then you will never prefer gain or present indulgence to godly conduct and a good conscience. You will be able to bear poverty if it should be allotted you; you will not fear any worldly evil; but you will fear sin and fear a lie. The believer cannot tempt the Spirit of the Lord as Gehazi did. He knows that the eye of God is upon him every instant, that there is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves. "Went not mine heart with thee," saith the prophet, "when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?" and goes not the eye of the Almighty with every one of you, go where you will? "Understand," then, "ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planteth the ear, shall He not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not He correct 1?" Alas! to what purpose is it that men should contrive and plan and shut their eyes against the vanity of their own contrivances? What safety can there be for transgressors, whilst God filleth heaven and earth? For impenitent transgressors there can be none. doeth whatsoever pleaseth Him, in heaven and in earth; and He can curse even their blessings, and make the bribes for which they have sold their souls to be a torment in possession. But, believe that He is God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself: believe that He is a wise and tender Father: believe Him when He tells you that great peace have they which love his law offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord; and whether He send poverty or plenty, good or ill of this world, He shall put gladness into your heart, more than in the time when your corn and wine increased.

4 Ps. xciv. 8-10.





"Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days."

THE history with which these words are connected is a beautiful comment on that declaration of our Lord, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten'." And the words themselves set before us a very edifying example of the cheerful and humble submission of a righteous man to the will of God.

I. I will first lay the history before you, making some remarks upon it as I go along;

II. Secondly, I will call your attention more particularly to the words of Hezekiah in the text;

III. And then make some application of the whole. I. The history relates Hezekiah's error, and God's merciful rebuke to him in consequence of it.

The character of Hezekiah is well known. He ranks among the very best of the kings of Judah. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, accord

ing to all that David his father did.

He removed

the high places, and brake the images, and cut down

1 Rev. iii. 19.

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