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you your danger and your necessity. The attacks of these foes are incessant, and without the armour of God on the right hand and on the left, you must be overthrown. I place your foes before you to rouse you to the battle; for the battle must be fought, and the victory must be won, or you too are lost. The contest is one which involves the interests of eternity. With the devil, the flesh, the world against you, how and where are you to escape? Where and how are you to attain the victory? I leave the answer for a subsequent investigation.
THE GREAT WORK OF RELIGION.
NEHEMIAH vi. 3.
My subject still leads me to speak of the opposition which is continually experienced to the great work of religion. It would seem from the opponents whom I have already placed in your view, that I have given a most fearful catalogue, and one amply sufficient to appal the stoutest heart. So it is, my friends; and as I before stated, the wonder is, not that such multitudes should, to the eye of all human probability, be lost, die and perish in their sins, but that any should be saved, when the fearful and tremendous character of the opposition is considered. And yet I have by no means passed through my catalogue of opponents, though what I am to say in the present discourse, may perhaps be correctly considered as an amplification of the former ideas, rather than as the actual suggestion of any new opponent; as carrying out into more minute details, that which before was considered only in its general aspect. For when I rank among the opponents to
the great work of religion the ridicule of foes, the errors, the worldliness, the enticements of professed friendship, and sometimes actual persecution, I only give more decided form and feature to those minuter circumstances, which are in general comprehended under the terrific opposition of the devil, the flesh, and the world. Whether it be the ridicule of foes, or the enticements of friends, they are all characterized by the malice and subtlety of the devil, the lusts of the flesh, and the course and current of the world. As I have in the last two discourses fully discussed the general subject, I come in this to take hold of these minute details, and I first consider the ridicule of foes. It is perfectly obvious that while an individual continues in a careless state, he has no difficulty of this kind to encounter. While he walks in the counsel of the ungodly, and stands in the way of sinners, and sits in the seat of the scornful, it is all easy and pleasant, so far as intercourse with those around. him is concerned. But let conviction of sin fasten on the soul of an individual of this class; let him be arrested in his carelessness; let him feel the necessity of repentance and faith; and let him set in earnest about this great work; and the active transformation of his character is not greater than is the change of feeling and of sentiment with which he is met. The man who before was allowed to be of fine understanding, is now most suddenly converted into a fool; the man who was honest and upright, and commanded universal respect, is as suddenly turned into a hypocrite, or a poor misguided enthusiast. A person who, brought under the influence of the grace of God, is constrained to flee for refuge to the hope set before him, is by those
who are yet in their sins and carelessness, generally described as a fool, a madman, or a hypocrite. I suppose that there is not an individual here but who has heard, and can well understand the meaning of this expression-Oh, such an one, I hear, is turned religious. This is often used as the very concentration of contempt. Besides this, there are multitudes of circumstances, all entirely too numerous to mention, coming under this description of ridicule; there are sneers and inuendoes and evil surmisings, and an array of these light weapons which nothing short of the armoury of the devil could possibly furnish. Every individual who uses this kind of opposition is unquestionably a foe to religion, and this opposition must be encountered by all who, in truth and sincerity, undertake this great work. It will begin the very moment they begin, and I have not a hearer present who can shelter himself by any means from this opposition, if he will set about this work. Fool he will be called, madman he will be called, and hypocrite he will be called; and he will be laughed at, and sneered at, and jested, and pointed at. It is one of the forms which the great adversary assumes to hinder the great work of religion.
And this same thing is true of those who are actually in the profession of religion; they will be ridiculed if they are inconsistent, and they will be ridiculed if they maintain consistency. If they mantain Christian consideration, and strive to obey the injunction of the Scripture, which says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate," oh here is such an one who will not do this, and here is another who will not do that, setting themselves up
as better than their neighbours. Here is one running to day-meetings, Bible classes and societies, and night-meetings, when he or she had better be at home minding their business or domestic concerns. I should like to know whether there is any more time wasted in day-meetings for the good of souls, than is wasted in walking the streets for admiration, or making visits of mere ceremony. Whether there is a great deal more harm in going to a night-meeting for prayer, than there is in going to a ball-room or theatre? And yet the very same persons who might devote their time in the streets and shops, and spend their nights in amusements, and all very well, if they should only happen to be converted and then wish to take care of their souls, and to embrace all advantages of derived heavenly knowledge, then, to be sure, that alters the case. It is only the most intense form of religion, however, which is liable to this extreme of ridicule. There is a kind of religion which is more reputable with the world, and with which professors can get along tolerably smoothly. I mean that kind of religion which is satisfied with a mere profession. Unfortunately, in these days, there is a world even in what is called the Church of God. Persons comprehended in this description may be considered as borderers, living on the confines of the two kingdoms. They do not meet with the ridicule of the foes of religion, because they have made a kind of treaty of amity in which the agreement is: If you will let me enjoy just so much religion as I think I can get along with, I will leave you in your opinions, and conform myself as much to your ways as possible. If you will not ridicule me for refusing to go to some public places of amusement,