How long halt ye between two opinions? -- 1 Kings 18:2.
If there be a God who is almighty, and therefore is able to save or destroy; who, by one volition of his will can raise you up to heaven or sink you down to the depths of hell; who is infinite in wisdom and therefore intimately acquainted with your whole history; whose eye has marked every movement in your eventful course; whose angel reporter has recorded in the register-book of heaven every moral action of your life; who is a God of justice, and will, therefore, one day call you up to the great universal tribunal, and award to you according as your works have been; who is full of mercy, and therefore will cast out none that come to him; whose favor is life, whose smile is heaven, whose frown is hell; if there be such a God, and if the giving your heart fully to him would secure to you honor, immortality, eternal life, and a position of equality with the angels, why halt between two opinions?
If there be, a hell, a place where no good will ever come; where all evil will be concentrated; where the fire will burn, the darkness affright, the chains bind, the deathless worm rankle; where, overhead and all around, wind will war with wind, lightning flash to lightning, storm howl to storm, and thunder mutter to thunder, in sounds of sullen wrath; where "fiery waves will dash against the rocks of dark damnation, and music make of melancholy sort;" "where the unhappy wretches will curse themselves, curse each other, curse the earth, curse the resurrection morn, curse Almighty God, and seek for death, and find it not; where their enemy is an aroused and angry God, the instruments of their torture a lake of fire and a guilty conscience, their tormentors the devil and his angels, and ETERNITY stamped upon the whole; -- if there be such a world before you, and if your course leads directly to it, why halt between two opinions, whether you will escape it or not? If there be a heaven -
"... a land of pure delight, Where saints immortal reign; Infinite day excludes the night, And pleasures banish pain;
"Where everlasting spring abides, And never-withering flowers; Death, like a narrow sea, divides That heavenly land from ours;"
A heaven where you will wear the robe, wave the palm, occupy the mansion, sit upon the throne, join in the everlasting song; where no wish will be left unsatisfied, and where hope will have realized her brightest visions; if there be such a heaven offered, why halt between two opinions, as to whether you will accept it or not? But if there be none, -- no GOD, no HEAVEN, no HELL; if you can disprove their existence; if you can affirm that you have traveled through the vast circuit of the universe, that you could find no print of the footsteps of the Deity; that you heard no sound of his voice; that everything came by chance; or that some creature first made himself, and every world that rolls in space, with all the myriads of men and angels that people earth and heaven; that there is no heaven or hell; that you have searched every planet, every nook and corner in space; that you have wandered through the universal temple, and that there is no trace of a world of bliss or woe; --further: if you are prepared to prove the Bible to be a lie; that all the evidence from prophecy, from the long chain of miracles, from the harmony of the Scriptures, from the millions of dying-bed testimonies, from the united voice of the great army of martyrs who hailed dungeons, prisons, racks, stakes, wild beasts, and the loss of life, rather than give up or deny the precious Bible, with all the grand effects the Bible has produced in the world; -- if you are prepared to prove that all these sources of evidence are mere delusions, mere priestcraft, still we ask, on this supposition, why halt between two opinions? If these things be so, then reject Christianity; spurn religion; convert your chapels into warehouses, and send your ministers home to some other calling; erect a monument to the triumph of infidelity; stand upon the tomb of Christianity, and shout, Hail, thou profoundest hell! and revel in the thought that there is no heaven to close against you, no hell to burn you, no God to condemn you; -- but, if there be a God, and Christianity be true, then, we ask, how long halt ye between two opinions? Notwithstanding all the efforts infidels make to bolster themselves up in their creed, the truth of God will get into their minds; and when once the truth of God has got into the soul of man, it can never be got out again. There are just two things we wish to say about infidel notions.
First, they can gain nothing by them. If Christianity be false, you gain nothing; you then have the consolation of taking a leap in the dark, -- to launch forth on the boundless eternity, not knowing whether an angel or a devil will meet you at your entrance.
Secondly, you are in danger of losing everything. Should Christianity prove true, you are lost forever! How long, then, halt ye between two opinions?
1. What are we to understand by halting between two opinions? Literally, how long hop ye about on two boughs? This is a metaphor taken from birds hopping about from bough to bough, not knowing on which to settle, balanced between opposing claims. To halt is to stop, to hesitate between opposite interests. Paul was balanced between a life of usefulness on earth and a life of enjoyment in heaven. The people in the days of Elijah were balanced between the worship of an idol and the worship of the God of heaven. Multitudes in our day are balanced between heaven and hell; two contrary influences acting upon them, as though God and heaven and holy beings were pulling one way, and the fiends of darkness and hell pulling the other. They halt between the two claims.
At an early period I made choice of religion and cast my lot in among the Methodists; and I have not been hopping about from one opinion to another since. I considered well the matter and fixed my choice; and I praise God for settled religious opinions and principles. I look upon it to be very important to have my mind fixed. Let me be a wanderer over this planet, let me sail over the ocean, or range through every clime, but let me have settled religious principles. My heart is fixed, oh God! my heart is fixed. But there are thousands just in the state of the people described in the text. Let us ascend Mount Carmel for a moment and witness the great controversy. See that dense crowd upon the mount! The claims of idolatry, the old religion of the country, are set forth by the priest; the claims of God, who had brought them out of Egypt, who had wrought wonders in their behalf: and the people halted between the two claims. See! there rushes in among them the venerable old prophet and says, "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; if Baal, then follow him." And the people answered him not a word. Elijah proposes a method to determine this great controversy. He proposes that two altars shall be built, and the sacrifices laid on the altars. Listen to Elijah's proposals to the prophets of Baal. "Call you upon the name of your gods, and I will call upon the name of the Lord; and the god that answers by fire, let him be God."
The priests set to work; the altar is erected, and the sacrifice laid on. There are the whole crowd of the priests of Baal standing around the altar, and Elijah stands alone for the living God. Hark! how loud the priests are calling upon their god, " O, Baal, hear us!" See how frantically they leap upon the altar, how they cut themselves, supposing this will propitiate their god! The very blood gushes out upon them; but no god answers, no voice replies, nor any one regards them. Listen to the sarcasm of Elijah: "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awakened." Hark! their shouts rent the very air. Now see Elijah standing beside the altar. The sacrifice is prepared; the water poured on, to prevent delusion. See with what dignity he acts, what majesty about his whole bearing. Listen to his addresses to God: "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant. Hear me, oh Lord! hear me that this people may know that thou art the Lord God." See! there the fire of the Lord falls and consumes the sacrifice, the wood on the stones, the dust, and the very water in the trench. All the people see it, and fall upon their faces and cry, "The Lord he is God, the Lord he is God!." The great controversy is ended, and the people decide for God.
Again and again has all the convincing evidence of religion been brought before your mind, and you have been almost persuaded to be a Christian; but you have halted. Your understanding and conscience have been on the side of heaven, but your will and affections have been on the side of the world and sin. In the chapel you have been serious and given promise of amendment, but among the world you laugh as loud as any. You have trimmed between the two; you have tried to serve both God and Mammon; and when convinced of the impossibility of that, you halt. You have sometimes entered the house of God, and while the ministers have reasoned of a judgment to come, you have trembled, and you have seen, after all, that religion is the best thing. When the minister led you around the edge of the pit of fire, and you listened to the wail of the damned, and then led you up around the mount of glory to hear the song of the blessed, especially as you were made to stand on the hill of Calvary, and to view the agonies of the dying Saviour, and as you thought "that is for me," you almost fell down before the cross and yielded your heart to God; but the world had its spell around you, and you halted.
"Ah!" says another, "you have not described my case. I have attended the house of God, it is true, but I never felt much under the word. It seems as though the infernal fiends had ranged themselves around me in the house of God and succeeded in picking out of my heart every seed of the kingdom; but I felt -deeply felt. I could take you to yonder room where my dear mother breathed her last. While I listened to her dying charge, ah! what were my feelings, my vows, my resolutions? Her language, her looks, her all, were so heavenly. Her last words were, 'Will you meet me in heaven?' I sobbed out, 'I will try.' But my companions, the card-table, the theater, rose up again to my view, and I halted between the two opinions."
But there is another here who never felt much under the word, and who has never had the warning of a dying mother. Still, you have had feelings of deep anxiety. "Yes," say you," there is one passage in my life, one page in my history, that I shall never forget. I will take you back in thought to the spot. It was in a room where I had spent most of the nights of my life in the bosom of my family. Everything was neat and clean around me, every earthly comfort given to me. My sisters and mother watched over me with a tenderness, a kindness, I shall never forget. How quiet were even their footsteps, lest they should pain me! How did they soften my pillow, and wipe the cold, clammy sweats, as they gathered on my marble forehead! The fever raged through my veins; the world, and all the gay scenes I had formerly followed, now seemed utter vanity; and there stood out distinctly and near at hand, just ready to gleam out upon me, all the burning realities of eternity, in all their majesty and solemn grandeur. I prayed, I wept, I resolved to turn to God. I sent for Christians to talk and pray with me. Prayer -- earnest prayer -- was offered up for me. My life was given back; I returned to health; but my impressions were like marks on the sand, the next wave of ungodliness washed them all away. Now, there were before me two great distinct objects. On the one side, religion, heaven, eternal life; on the other, the ball, the dance, the wine, the giddy circles of fashion, -- paths of worldly fame; and I halted between the two opinions."
"Ah!" says another, "you have described the characters of others but you have not described mine. O, sir, I too had no dying mother give a warning, and I never had been much afflicted; but there is one scene I witnessed in my life which has ever since haunted me like a horrid nightmare. It was the death bed scene of an unsaved sinner. Ah! the scene is too horrible to call to mind. There he lay tossing in agony. The summer's sun had gilded every season of his life; but now the rigor of winter was upon him. He was on life's last shore, on the very edge of the unseen world. His frame was bathed in the sweats of death; his eyeballs rolled with wild affright; despair seemed indented in his very cheeks; his cries for mercy were enough to pierce a demon's heart. He looked for a moment onward with a fixed gaze; he seemed to see the shroud, the winding-sheet, the coffin, the yawning noisome grave, the tormentors waiting to receive him; the closed gates of the celestial city, the flaming judgment, the open books, the great big fires of hell flaring up in the distance; -- he shrunk back, and said, 'I cannot face it, -- I dare not die.' Still, life ebbed out, and the space between him and eternity lessened every moment. For a time, reason reeled under the prospects, and oh, what were the horrid ravings of his mind!
"On life's dread verge there he lay. At length the fatal moment came; -- with a groan, a shuddering groan, he passed away to meet his God; but his piercing cries for mercy, the language he uttered about fiends of hell gathering around his bed, and the sights he saw in the distance, the fierce glance of his eye, the despair depicted in his countenance, all seems distinctly to linger in my mind. His awful death was hushed up as much as possible. I attended his funeral; but, ah! what were my thoughts as the dirt rumbled upon his coffin, as the grave was closing in upon his body, and the melancholy toll of the bell was dying away upon my ear? I thought, perhaps the very waves of hell are closing over his spirit, and the devils singing the dirge over the funeral of his lost soul. As I witnessed that scene, what did I then promise, how did I then pray! But I mingled with my old associates and was laughed at for my seriousness. I saw then that I must be one thing or the other, that I must give up my companions or give up all thoughts of religion, -- and I halted between the two opinions."
And here you are halting still! How long halt ye? The interests of your undying spirit cry, Decide; fleeting time calls upon you to decide; the tragic scenes of Calvary, as it rocks the slumbering universe, cry, Decide; a voice comes down from the upper sanctuary, and says, Decide; the muffled groans of millions of damned souls cry to you, Decide! You may refuse; you may for a while stifle conscience and charm it to sleep; but, by and by, "like a serpent which has coiled itself around your heart, it will start up and twine itself around your shrieking soul, and there hiss, and sting, and madden you throughout eternity; and when, writhing in excruciating torture, from the unceasing gnawings of this undying worm, you cry out, in intolerable anguish, oh! shall I never have rest from this insupportable weight of woe? conscience, lifting up the awful voice you had so long silenced, will cry out, Never! and memory, glancing back at all your guilt, will echo the dismal sound, Never; and a voice more terrible still will break through the dreadful darkness that is all around, -- the voice of an angry God, exclaiming, NEVER -- NEVER!"
II. What are the causes of this halting?
1. The influence of the Spirit of God on the mind. This may seem strange, but we think it will be evident to you. The Spirit of God is not directly, but indirectly, the cause. He produces such effects on the head and heart, by the doctrines of the Bible, that the sinner is made to see his position, to see the awful future, to see the consequences of moving on in that direction, to see hell at the end of the path. He halts, stops to ponder whether to go backward or forward. I once heard a backsliders who had deeply fallen, say, "I have a father and a sister in heaven; and my father's advice, and my sister's death-bed, I shall never forget. Also, the truth of God often flashes across my mind, and I think if I pursue the course I am now in, my death will be a frightful one. If I am not left then in a state of delirium or deep delusion, my end will present a horrible scene." That was the confession of a backslider, who was trying to shield himself under the principles of infidelity; and that is but a fair specimen of the experience of thousands of sinners who are thronging the path of hell. We look upon the arousings of conscience in this man as the Spirit's work, stopping the sinner for a moment, at least, making him halt on his path to perdition. Man is a free agent. "What is that?" says one. I answer, he has a power to choose or reject. There is a consciousness within you that you possess this power, and all the reasoning in the world cannot make a thing more clear to you than consciousness. You know that without holiness no man can see God. You know that Jesus hath died for you and that by his death he hath removed every obstruction out of the way of your conversion. You know there is now a mercy-seat to which you can go and find pardon. You know you must go there, or perish. The blessed Spirit has been pouring light into your understanding, refreshing your memory, touching your conscience, gently bending your will. He has been trying thus to lead you over the line to God. You have been using the tremendous power you possess, by halting, resisting, fighting against God. You know the contest is unequal; and though you put yourself in a hostile attitude to the great and dreadful God, he will conquer you. What are you, to fight against God? He can shake the universe into atoms in a moment of time, by one single act of his great power. We tell you, he will conquer you; he will put you in the winding-sheet, fill your mouth with clay, and hurl your soul into hell. You see there before you a throne of mercy; and you feel conscious you can go there, or stay away. You can say, "If there be mercy in heaven I will find it," or, "Away with him, away with him! I will not have this man to reign over me." The great Spirit, the glorifier of Christ, the third person of the Trinity, comes to you, not to drag and compel you to be saved, but he gently takes hold of your free agency, and leads you up to Calvary to view the claims of a dying Saviour, and says, YIELD, and you know you have the power to refuse or obey. Ah! it is this power that constituted responsibility. Do you ill plead your inability to accept of mercy? I ask, what is there in this process you cannot do? I dare say you have a room, or some place of retirement. Though your Saviour could say, "The foxes have boles, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of God hath not where to lay his head," I doubt not but you are in this sense better off than your Master. You have legs, and with those legs you could walk up into your room, and kneel down before God. You have a memory, and you can allow that memory to run back on the years gone by, and call up the deeds of iniquity you have committed. You have a tongue, and with that tongue you can ask God, for Christ's sake, to forgive you. You can say, "God be merciful to me a sinner." You can do all this; and I ask, do you think, were you to do so sincerely, would the blessed God repel you from his throne? No, he will cast out none.
Now, this is just what the Spirit of God has been trying to do with you. This is the point to which he has been trying to bring you, to bring you to Christ. But sometimes free agency turns rampant, and cries, "Away with him." Poor sinner, take hold of this power which the divine Spirit brings to you, and he will not rest till you are a sinner saved by grace. This is a most important point. O! that we could get sinners to use this precious power, a power which has come upon them in virtue of the great atoning death of Christ! This power is a golden chain linked to the throne of God, and let down within their reach. The sinking sinner may seize it, and live forever. This power is a ladder, let down from heaven to earth. You may step upon it, and ascend to glory. The first round, at least, is within your reach, close at your foot. O, sinner, what mean you by your mad, reckless course, to sit down and perish while help is at hand? See! see! that poor sailor has tumbled overboard yonder. "All hands ahoy!" shouts the watch, "a man overboard." There he rises upon the waves, and again he sinks; once more he rises to the surface, now they see him. There! a rope is thrown out to him; but some unaccountable stupor has come over him, though the rope is within his reach, and he may be saved by laying bold of it, yet there he sinks and perishes, while every effort has been made to save him. That, sinner, is just your case, perishing while the golden chain swings by you.
"But how may I know," says one, "that the Spirit is striving to lead me to decision?" I answer, by two ways. By head weights and heart weights. Firstly, by head weights. The Holy Ghost shoots in light into the sinner's dark soul until the sinner makes tremendous discoveries. He becomes startled and alarmed for his safety. Deep troubles heave and toss in his soul. " O," says one, "I have none of those troubles." Stay, stay! -- you had them once; you had them until you grieved away the Holy Spirit, and now he has left you to sail on, wrapt up in your own delusion, undisturbed, to move on right in the direction of hell, untroubled, quiet. Ah! these dead calms are only the precursors of the storm, the stillness that precedes the violent concussions of the earthquakes! These guilty calms will be followed by the hurricanes of hell, the eternal storms that will rage on the lake that burneth for ever and ever. Ah! one of the grandest events in your history would be the return again of the Holy Ghost to trouble you.
"Stay, thou insulted Spirit, stay, Nor take thine everlasting flight."
Secondly, heart weights. Many of you know something about these heart weights; you have had considerable experience in these matters; you have many a time been troubled by abstractions of mind, vacancy of thought, secret uneasiness. Sometimes that unbidden tear has stolen down your cheeks, and you could scarcely tell why, some unaccountable alarm about the future, some undefined dread of some all-pervading spirit fixing a searching gaze upon you. Many a time you wished you had never been born, or that your station had been fixed among the harmless creatures that browse in the fields; who have no account to render up, no judgment day to face, no frowning God to meet, no hell to be terrified at. These heart weights have spoiled your pleasure. Now, I do not pretend to be a prophet; but it is my solemn conviction that one of two things will happen to you ere long, -- either you will be converted, or a sickness unto death will come upon you. Trifle with this, if you please, but remember the words of Him who has said, "He that, being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed without remedy." Still, you refuse to take hold of help, to yield to the Spirit. What, we ask, will be the result? See, see, yonder mighty range of mountains. The ravines are deep, the summits are high and craggy. It is the Alpine mountains. The passage across them is one of danger, of difficulty, of peril. Do you see that man on the summit of the first mountain there, casting a glance across the perilous passage? He is about to attempt that fearful journey. See! now his friends are gathering around him. See how earnest they are in trying to dissuade him from his determination; but he is resolved, nothing will shake his purpose. The sun is setting behind the western mountains; the shadows of night deepen fast around him. All is now night, dark, dark night. Scarcely a twinkling star is seen to relieve the profound gloom. Part of the road across the Alps lies along a tremendous precipice; and many of the passes are so narrow, that a single step will plunge him into the deeps below. See! a kind friend brings and presents to him a brilliant lamp, and entreats him to accept it to light his feet over the fearful passage; but he dashes that lamp on the earth, and tramples it under his feet. He commences his journey; he moves on in the solemn gloom, under the shadow of the mighty mountain. Do you not see him climbing his way along the narrow passes, as the lurid lightnings blaze and play around him? All again is dark, dark as the tomb. Hark! hark! did you hear that fearful scream rising above the wild moaning wind? He s over the precipice, he's gone, he's dashed in pieces! Poor, halting sinner, such will be your case, without the lamp of life, without the Holy Spirit's guidance. Quench not the Spirit; reject not the lamp that Heaven tenders to you. You cannot reach the celestial gate without it. Enemies lurk in those passes that lie in your road. The lion of hell prowls about those mountains; fiends lie concealed in the gloom of your way. Take with you, we entreat you, the lamp; spurn not the heavenly light.
A ship passing round Cape Horn without a pilot in the rigor of winter when waves rise like mountains to dash the vessel in pieces is nothing compared to the danger of attempting the passage to heaven without the Holy Ghost. Still, you halt. Ah! the scream of the man falling over the precipice is nothing compared with the shriek that you will utter as you fall down from the precipice of mercy to the hell below. How long, then, halt ye between two opinions?
III. You are unwilling to pay the price.
That butcher and bookseller there must shut up their shops on the Lord's day. I tell you, you must pay this price, you must shut up that shop of yours. You sometimes shed a tear, and intend to do better; you sometimes read a chapter in the Bible and attend the preaching of the word. But it's all of no use. Your coming to chapel is all in vain; your prayers and vows are an abomination to God; and, unless you take care, amidst your contributions, tears, efforts, and prayers, you will go down to hell with a lie in your right hand. I tell you, God would as soon save the devil as you, while you keep that shop open on a Sabbath. You must pay this price, or there is no salvation for you. I once more deliver my solemn message from God to you, and I tell you, unless you shut up your doors on the holy Sabbath, God will soon shut your body up in the grave, and your soul in the prison of hell.
Unless I am greatly mistaken, there is a man in this congregation living in a state of adultery. The woman was the weaker vessel, and you have seduced and led her away from the path of virtue. It took you a considerable time to accomplish your fearful task. Such was her instinctive clinging to the path of virtue that it required all your stronger powers of mind, and fiend-like craft, to gain your guilty purpose. What have you done? You have acted the part of the great leader of hell; you have dragged down an angel from her throne of virtue, committed soul murder. Blood, blood, soul-blood is on your conscience; it stains all your garments; it is upon your habitation; it cries up to heaven against you -- vengeance! vengeance!! vengeance!!! You have not only done all you can to damn the soul of an immortal being, but you have committed a great suicidal act on your own undying spirit. You have done what you can to sink your own soul into the darkest, deepest, hottest hell -- where, if there be a hotter fire, a keener pang, a deeper gulf, a louder scream, they will be yours. O! what a miserable path you have already had, what twinges of conscience, what dread of the future! The very fires of perdition seem at times to break out in your soul; and all this but the beginning of the gnawing of the worm that never dies, of the fire that shall never be quenched. I believe she will yet get you into hell first. You have been the most guilty party. I tell you, there is no salvation for you till you give her up. "What!" says one, "are not you a Methodist preacher, and do you mean to limit redemption? You are the first Methodist preacher I ever heard do that." I am, I am a Methodist preacher, and I do mean to say the blood of Christ won't reach your case, unless you give up that woman. You may weep, and stay at the penitent meeting, if you like; but I tell you, one of the lost souls in perdition will as soon obtain salvation as you, till you give her up. O, my God! rescue this sinner; snatch him from the gulf that yawns at his feet; make thy lightnings flash around him; roll forth thy seven-fold thunders to break the spell that binds him! I ask you man, will you give up that woman? -- will you give her up, and be saved?
There is that young man there. Ah! you have put your hand into your master's till, and appropriated to yourself what was not your own. You frequented the gambling table, went with pleasure parties on the Lord's day, kept up a style of living beyond your income, and have sometimes been found in places scarcely fit to mention in a public audience. Your bills have come due, and you could not meet them. You looked round you, and every resource failed. Now you were brought to a stand still. Two courses opened before you: either to abandon your associates, give up your engagements, and turn from the paths that lead down to the chambers of hell; or do one act at which you shuddered, -- an act that would stamp your character with THIEF. Conscience rose up before this deed, and thundered, and you trembled. There stood conscience with her drawn sword right before you, like the flaming cherubim at the tree of life, and you tried to bribe her; and you said to her, "I do not mean to steal it; I am not a thief; I only borrow it for a while;" -and then you managed to put your hand into the till, and take out five shillings. Ah! you remember that first five shillings. You then crossed the bridge. That one act gave an impetus to you in your path to ruin. You sunk even in your own estimation, and from that date you entered on a more reckless and desperate course. Ah! what a guilty wretch you have since that time proved! You have escaped detection; your master looks upon you as an honorable young man; your character stands fair with the world; no human eye saw you; -- but God's angel-reporter saw you, and recorded the transaction. And there it stands in heaven's register-book, with date and circumstances, in all its particulars, in flaming characters; there it stands, and it rises up like a great wall of fire between you and the Cross of Christ, between you and salvation. God will never forgive you till you make restitution. You may pray till doomsday, you may weep tears of blood, you may fast till your body is a skeleton, but the heavens will be to you like a wall of brass, till you return that money. Send it back, send it back with interest. I ask you tonight, young man, will you give up that money? You see there are just two things before you, restitution or no salvation. O, sinner, give up the money and lay hold on eternal life! Ah! there are many others here that have, in many other ways, appropriated to themselves what was not their own. You must give it up, you must give it up, you must make restitution or sacrifice heaven. You cannot have them both. How long halt ye as to which you shall choose?
O! what has not been done to bring you to a decision? The ministers of mercy have led you up around Calvary's mount, and in melting strains have cried, "Immortal man, behold the agonies of the Son of God! He suffered that for you." They have then taken you up around the celestial paradise and pointed you to its glories, its songs, its mansions, its thrones, and said, "Sinner! Sinner! that is purchased for thee. Seize thy blood-bought crown." They have then conducted you down around hell's yawning gulf, and cried, "Behold its tormented captives! Gaze on its woes! Listen to its shrieks, its howlings, its thunders!" and said, "Man, escape, escape for thy life!" The Father has called, the Son has pleaded, the Spirit has striven, the ministers of God have stood in the temple and cried, "Repent!" and reasoned of a judgment to come. Angels have remonstrated, mercy besought, heaven has frowned and smiled, hell has roared, time has fled, death has shaken his dart, and threatened to make repentance vain. In your path to death, the Cross rose up like a flaming barrier, and to stop you, Jesus Christ lay across the road that leads to hell, and you have had to stumble over the Cross. If you perish, you must make the Son of God a stepping-stone to a deeper damnation. And, strange to say, you have closed your eyes, your ears, to all advice, all reproof, and rushed on over judgment and mercy; -- or, if you have paused for a moment in your downward course, you have looked at heaven, and then at sin and pleasure, and you have halted. Yes, you have halted. Amidst the cry of the perishing, the shouts of the saved, the roar of the enemy, the rush of time, you have halted. Now, we resolve tonight to drive you to decision for heaven or hell. But, pour sinner, our heart bleeds over you -- why will you die? By the majesty of God, by the joys of the sleepless congregation of the church triumphant, by your undying interest, by the death-agonies of Jesus, by the groans of the Son of God, by the thunders of a dissolving world, by the wail of the damned, decide, decide now for God; or, if not for God, then decide for Baal. That then, is your decision, is it? You have made up your mind, have you, to embrace the world, to drink deep of its cup? Then we give you a little advice. Sleep on now and take your rest. You have had no rest while you have been trimming between these two opinions; your conscience has been a rack; thoughts of the future have haunted your midnight hours. Seek, now, what little happiness thou canst from the world, seek for it in every earthly enjoyment; walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; gratify every passion; deck thy person with everything attractive in the world's eye; enter every scene of amusement; select for thy companions the most jovial of the world; purchase every luxury of life; drink with the drunken; sing with the loudest; never enter the house 6f God, or thy conscience will be disturbed; forsake every means of grace, close the Bible, and let the dust thicken on its covers; never let thine eye glance at a religious book; shun the people of God as thy greatest enemies; never listen to the voice of conscience; drive the Holy Spirit from thy breast; never turn thine eye towards Calvary; banish all thoughts of heaven from thy mind; smile at death; laugh at eternity; look up to the throne of the Great Eternal and cry, "Who is the Lord, that I should serve him?" Stand on the edge of the infernal gulf, and shout, "Hail! thou profoundest hell." If you have a good principle, go through with it. Poor sinner! get all the happiness thou canst, for it is all thou wilt ever have. Thou refusest the sweet rest of religion; -get all thou canst from the world, for the time is near when thou wilt never rest for a moment again. All thy rest is on this side of the tomb. There is none beyond for thee, unless the yell of devils, the groans of the damned, the roar of the eternal storm, the taunt of fiends, the quenchless flame, the gnawings of the undying worms, the fire-beds of hell, be rest. Unless recollections of having lost a day of grace, trampled on the precious blood of Christ, and forfeited heaven, be your rest; unless the company of lost men and lost angels, God's eternal anger, the Redeemer's eternal frown, and the braving of the howlings of an eternal night be rest. If these things cannot give you rest, then there is no rest for you beyond the grave. Decide, then, if not for heaven, for hell. How long, then, halt ye between two opinions?