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tell ! Aaron complied with it. Under his direction, the people, in their idolatrous phrenzy, made a Golden Calf, and fell down before it, and worshipped it, and cried out, These 'be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
When Moses was informed of this besotted folly and wickedness on the part of the people, he immediately turned and went down from the Mount, and Joshua with him; and after remonstrating with Aaron and with the people on account of their sin, he look the Calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it lo powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the childı en of Israel drink of il. Having done this,-for the purpose of inaking a solemn discrimination between the innocent and the guilty, and of preparing 10 execute the judgment of God against the latter,-- he came forth and stood in the gale of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord's side ?
The spirit of this question, my friends, is just as applicable to us, as it was to the people of Israel three and thirty centuries ago. Suppose the Saviour were now to come, in his glorified body, into this assembly, and, standing visibly in the midst of us, were to ask, Who is on the Lord's side ? what answer would each of us give Him? What answer would candour compel us to give? Well, that Divine and Omniscient Redeeiner is present with us, though our bodily eyes see Him not; and he does ask each of us, in his Word, and in his Providence, this solemn question. Let me, then, beseech every one to answer it to his own conscience as in the presence of Him who cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked. And that you may be enabled to answer it with the more intelligence and certainty, I shall endeavour, First, to DESCRIBE THE CHARACTER OF THOSE WHO ARE ON THE LORD'S SIDE ; and Secondly, to ASSIGN SOME REASONS WHY WE ARE ALL BOUND TO BE ON THAT
In other words, I propose to speak of the EVIDENCE and the Duty of being on the Lord's side.
I. The first question to be considered is, What is implied in being on the Lorď's side? What is the character of those of whom this
be said ?
Now, this question evidently presupposes that there is a side which may be emphatically called the Lord's side. And can any thinking man contemplate our world, or look into the Bible, without seeing and feeling that this is really the case? There is a controversy between God and rebellious man. God is on the side of truth, order, and holi
The rebels are on the side of folly, disorder, and sin. They have risen up, without the least cause, in 'opposition to the rightful
Sovereign of the universe; and their hostility to him is implacable. They dislike his character, his truth, his precepts, his government, although all are infinitely perfect. This warfare, so unreasonable and atrocious on man's part, has been raging for near six thousand years, and is still kept up with unabated enmity. The object of Jehovah is most wise and benevolent. It is to maintain untarnished the glory of his perfections, the honour of his law, and the authority of his most perfect and blessed government; and to make such a display of all these to his intelligent and moral kingdom, as shall ultimately promote the greatest happiness of that kingdom. By the Lord's side, there re, is obviously meant, the side of wisdom, of holinesss, and of true enjoyment; the side which our blessed Saviour came down from heaven, and made himself an atoning sacrifice to promote and maintain; the side, of course, which all good beings, on earth and in heaven, espouse and love; and which nothing but infatuation and wickedness ever prompted any creature to oppose.
The question before us further presupposes, that there are those who are not on the Lord's side. The very terms of it, as asked by Moses, plainly imported that the men of that generation were not all on the right side. Far from it. They were greatly divided. We know not what proportion, but a large number, were in the ranks of rebellion. So it was then; so it has ever been, since the time of Cain and sibel ; and so it is now. The great mass of mankind are in arms against the righteous Governour of the universe. This is the case, indeed, by nature, with ALL. But some, blessed be the riches of Jehovah's grace, have laid down the weapons of their hostility, have left the camp of the rebels, and come in, and accepted the offers of reconciliation. Now, to one or the other of these parties all mankind belong. Yes, my brethren, those who have penitently returned and submitted, and those who still stand out in their rebellion-God and mammon-divide the popula. tion of our globe between them. We cannot say of any individual of our race that he belongs to neither of these parties. Our blessed Saviour has unquestionably decided this point, when he pronounces, with solemn emphasis, He that is not for me, is against me. then, flatter themselves that, although they have no positive evidence that they are on the Lord's side, they may yet take comfort in the hope that they are not on the side of the enemy. This is a miserable delusion. There can be no neutrality here. If you are not on the Lord's side, you are on the side of his arch-adversary; and, remaining such, must be treated accordingly.
Once more; the question before us presupposes, that it is of the atmost importance that the point which it presses, be decided. Moses, undoubtedly believed, that interests of unspeakable consequence were involved in the solemn interrogatory then ; and are interests of less consequence, think you, involved in it at present? Can any rational being doubt that the solution of the question, whether we are the friends or the enemies of God, is of infinite moment? Oh, no. If ever a question embraced OUR ALL, this is that question. Nay, it not only ought to be decided, but it ought to be decided now; without the delay of another hour; before we take one more step in the journey of life. Eternal interests are at stake, which must remain in the deepest uncertainty and jeopardy, so long is this point is undetermined. Rational and account : able creature ! hastening to the judgment-seat of Christ, let me beseech you to apply yourself without sophistry, and without evasion to this all important inquiry.
The question then recurs—What is implied in being on the Lord's side ? I answer,
1. They alone are on the Lord's side, who are ON THE SIDE OF HIS TRUTH; who believe and embrace the fundamental doctrines of his Word. It can, by no means, my friends—whatever some may insinu. ate to the contrary—it can by no means be considered a matter of small moment, what your doctrinal belief on the great subject of religion may be. If all holy practice be founded on holy principle; if the incorruptible seed of all holy principle be truth ; if men, as our blessed Lord expressly declares, are sanctified by the truth ; if those who receive or teach another gospel, that is, a gospel essentially different from that which is contained in the Bible, are to be held “ accursed," as the inspired apostle pronounces; in a word, if there be “heresies" which are "damnable," as another apostle expressly declares ;-then we are demonstrably led to the conclusion—that to be on the Lord's side, is to be on the side of its fundamental truth; and that those who reject this, cannot be the cordial friends of him who is the Author and Teacher of truth.
We are by no means, indeed, to suppose, that every degree of doctrinal error is an evidence of enmity to Goit. If this were the case, probably no man living would be found on the Lord's side ; because no man, it is probable, is absolutely perfect in his creed, any more than in his practice. Yet, on the other hand, there are limits beyond which doctrinal error is manifestly incompatible with genuine piety. How much error a man must embrace before it becomes evident that he is not a
Christian, is not for a fallible mortal to decide. Yet when we have as. certained what the fundamental, the absolutely essential doctrines of the Gospel are—and to ascertain these, will not be very difficult to those who have the Bible in their hands-we are, of course, perfectly war. ranted in pronouncing, that those who reject them, are not on the Lord's side. They reject that without which no man can be said to receive the Gospel, and consequently, without which no man is a Christian,
2. They only are on the Lord's side, who are on THE SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER, who love him supremely, on account of his infinite ex. cellence, and who rejoice in all his adorable persections.
All will allow, without hesitation, that those Israelites who turned away from the true God, and gave their worship to a miserable idol, were not on the side of Jehovah. So Muses, under Divine guidance, decided concerning all such persons; and therefore, inflicted upon them a penalty as ignominious as it was terrible. But there are many other idols besides those of gold and silver, stone and wood. An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures. Accordingly the inspired Apostle expressly declares that covetousness is idolatry. And so is inordinate love to any created object. That individual, then, whoever he may be; however externally fair and blameless his deportment; however confident his profession; who places his highest affections on any thing in this world; whether it be wealth; or honours; or relatives; or pleasures; or splendid living,-makes it as perfectly manifest that he is not a friend of God, as if he bowed down, every day of his life, to a graven image. Whosoever, says an inspired A postle, will be a friend of the world, is the ene
Ye cannot, says the Saviour, serve God and mammon. And again, He that loveth father or mother, wife or children, brethren or sisters, more than me, is not worthy of me: he cannot be my disciple.
He, then, who is on the Lord's side, not only loves God with supreme affection; but he loves him, primarly, on account of his own infinite and eternal excellence. He cherishes a cordial complacency in all the Divine attributes. He is reconciled to them all, approves them all, takes pleasure in the contemplation of them all. If he could accomplish it by a wish, he would have no perfection of his Maker either laid aside or altered. He rejoices unfeignedly in the unspotted holi. ness, the inflexible justice, and the terrible majesty of God, as well as in his goodness, mercy, and grace. In other words, he rejoices in the real, scriptural, and complete character of God. He sees a glory in
my of God.
all that Jehovah is, as well as in all that he does, which inspires de light, confidence and joy. His heart goes forth, too, in habitual grati- . lude to God, for all the bounty of his Providence, and for all the riches of his grace. He feels himself a debtor to both, beyond the power of language to express. So that he is able, from the heart, to say with the holy Psalmist, Lord, whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth thal I desire beside thee. But further
3. They only are on the Lord's side, who are on THE SIDE OF HIS GOSPEL; who have sincerely fallen in with the plan of reconciliation which he has revealed; have come forth from the camp of the enemy, and been joined to the Lord in one Spirit. What would you say to a number of individuals, in an army of traitors, who should believe and allege that they were friendly to their government, while they remained associated with its enemies, and co-operated with them in all their plans and measures? Would you not indignantly reject their claim? Would you not say to them— Come forth from the camp of the rebels; accept of the pardon offered you; and show yourselves loyal citizens, and we will believe you.' So it is with those who are by nature enemies of God. Until they cordially repent of their enmity, and lay down their
accept of the offered terms of reconciliation, and come forth from the ranks of rebellion, and practically manifest their friendship, they must, undoubtedly, be considered as enemies still. Let no one, then, imagine that he is on the Lord's side, who is not a friend to the blessed Redeemer; who has not humbly and penitently accepted of him, as the foundation of his hope, and the life of his soul; who has not cordially embraced his humbling and self denying terms of mercy. Hence, repentance lowards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, are represented in Scripture as the very first steps in Gospel obedience. And the benign proclamation of that Gospel is, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. There is now no condcmnalion lo then who are in Christ Jesus, who walk nol after the flesh, but after the Spiril.
This acceptance of the Saviour, as was intimated, is always connected with coming out from the camp of the enemy, and showing, by our spirit and pursuits, thal we belong to Christ. To be on the Lord's side, does not, indeed, imply withdrawing from society, and indulging in the moroseness and gloom of monastick seclusion. The religion of Jesus Christ is a social, benevolen! religion. It requires those who profess to obey it, to shine as lighis in the midst of a crooked and per. verse nation; and to endeavour, by an amiable, pure and heavenly con