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Before that sublime and unbending decision, which dares to be singular, which nothing can divert from its purpose, which nothing can diminish in its ardour, which clings the closer to its object for all the efforts that are employed to detach it from the pursuit; I say before that inflexible spirit, it is astonishing to see how the space clears away, and how soon she is left to pursue her course, while all the tribe of little, pecking, cavilling, noisy minds, drop down into their hedges, and leave the eagle to her course. “ This invincibility of temper,” says the pro
" foundest and most eloquent essayist in the English language, “ will often make the scoffers themselves tired of the sport. They begin to feel that against such a man it is a poor kind of hostility to laugh. There is nothing that people are more mortified to spend in vain than their scorn.
A man of the right kind would say, upon an intimation that he is opposed by scorn,
They will laugh, will they? I have something else to do than to trouble myself about their mirth. I do not care if the whole neighbourhood were to laugh in a chorus. I should indeed be sorry to see or hear such a number of fools, but pleased enough to find that they did not consider me one of their stamp. The good to result from my project will not be less, because vain and shallow minds, that cannot understand it, are diverted at it, and at me. What should I think of my pursuits, if every trivial thoughtless being could comprehend, or would applaud them; and of myself, if my courage needed levity and ignorance for their allies, or could shrink at their sneers ?' **
* See Foster's “ Essay on Decision of character.”-I should deem it an insult to my readers, to suppose they have not read these Essays;
My children, think of the importance of the matter to be decided upon-the service of God, the pursuit of immortality, the salvation of the soul-and shall a false shame deter you from the pursuit? Think of the example of Jesus Christ, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame. Look at this divine sufferer, as he is presented to us in the hall of Pilate, when he was made the object of every species of scorn and indignity, and will you shrink from a few sneers and scoffs for Him? Remember our Lord's most alarming language, " Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, and with the holy angels.” Anticipate, if you can, the shame, the disgrace, the mortification, the torment, of being disowned, rejected, and abandoned by Christ, before assembled worlds; and let that be a preservative against being ashamed of him now.
It is time now to set before you the evils of indecision, as a motive to induce you to seek after the opposite temper.
Such a temper is most unreasonable, if you consider both the importance of the subject, and the means you possess of coming to a speedy and right decision. Is it a matter of trifling moment? Yes, if God, and eternity, and salvation, and heaven and hell are trifles. If religion be a trifle, where, in all the universe, shall we find and not less so to their Author, to suppose that they needed my recommendation. I cannot help, however, enjoining on my readers to read the Essay from which the above extract is made, with the resolution to seek, and the prayer to obtain, all that decision which is there sa eloquently described, not only in reference to every good werk in general, but to religion in particular.
any thing that is important ? Irresolution here, is to be undetermined whether you will be the friend or the enemy of God; whether you will live in this world under the favour or the curse of Jehovah, and in the world to come, in the torments of the bottomless pit, or the felicities of the heavenly city; whether you will choose condemnation or salvation. There is no language which can describe, there is no allusion which can illustrate, the folly of indecision in religion. The irresolution of a slave, whether he should continue to groan in fetters, or be free; of the leper, whether he should still be covered with the most loathsome disease, or enjoy the glow of health ; of the condemned criminal, whether he should choose an honourable life, or the most torturing and ignominious death; is not marked with such desperate folly as an undecided state of mind about personal religion. The Scripture demands decision, and it demands it in these striking words," See, I have set before thee this day life and good, death and evil; therefore choose.” Yet some are undecided whether they will serve God, their Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor, and inherit eternal life; or yield themselves to Satan, their destroyer, and suffer the bitter pains of eternal death. If the matter were involved in obscurity, as to what was your duty or your interest, there would be some apology; but when both are as clear as the day, the folly of indecision is so palpably manifest, as to entail a most fearful degree of guilt upon the conscience of the irresolute.
Indecision is contemptible. “ Unstable as water thou shalt not excel," is a character which no
one ever pretended to admire. In the ordinary affairs of life, indecision renders a man an object of pity or contempt. It is a poor disgraceful thing not to be able to answer with some degree of firmness to the questions, What will you be ? What will you do? It is a pitiable thing to see a creature, with all the faculties of a rational being about him, so irresolute and undecided, as almost to wish that he could exchange reason for instinct, in order that he might be spared the trouble of thinking, and the pain of choosing: a poor, dependent, powerless creature, that floats like a feather or a chip along the stream of time, belonging to whatever can seize him; and without one effort of resistance, whirled in every little eddy, and intercepted by every little twig. But how much more disgraceful is this irresoluteness of mind in the affairs of religion, where there are
so many means, and so many motives for coming to a just conclusion. To be blown about like thistle-down by every wind of doctrine, and carried just wherever the gust or the current impels, is as dishonourable to our understanding as it is detrimental to our salvation.
Indecision is uncomfortable. Suspense is always painful. Hesitation as to the steps we shall take, and the conduct we shall pursue, is a most undesirable state of mind : and this uneasiness will be in exact proportion to the importance of the business to be decided, and to the degree of compunction we feel for not deciding upon a course, which we cannot help thinking, upon the whole, is the right one. My children, the undecided cannot be altogether easy in their present fluctuating state of mind. No: directed
one way by conviction, and dragged another by inclination : determining at one time to serve God fully, and at another smarting under the guilt of broken vows: resolved on the Sabbath, and irresolute on the Monday: sometimes advancing with courage, and then again retreating with fear and shame: no, this is not the way to be happy. You may as well expect peace on the field of battle, as in the bosom where such a conflict is carried on. Look up to God, and ask for grace to terminate by decided piety the dreadful strife, if indeed it be carried on in your breast.
Indecision is dangerous. Consider the uncertainty of life. How soon and how suddenly the King of Terrors may arrest you, and bear you to his dark domain. Some acute, imflammatory disease, in a few days may extinguish life ; or a fatal accident, which leaves you no leisure even to bid adieu to those you love on earth, may hurry you into eternity. And then what becomes of you ? In a state of indecision you are unprepared for death, for judgement, for heaven. You are within the flood-mark of divine vengeance. God accounts all those to be decidedly against him, who are not decidedly for him. There is, properly speaking, no middle ground between regeneracy and unregeneracy, between conversion and unconversion, and therefore he that does not occupy the one, is found within the limits of the other. You are a child or an enemy of God. Whatever may be your occasional relentings, your transient emotions, your ineffectual desires, if you
do not become decidedly pious, God will take no account of these things, bat treat you, if you die in this state, as