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THE SPECIAL SERVICES AT EXETER HALL,
ON SUNDAY EVENING, JULY 11, 1858.
REV. RICHARD BURGESS, B.D."
PREBENDARY OF ST. PAUL's..
SEELEY, JACKSON, AND HALLIDAY, FLEET STREET ;.
B. SEELEY, HANOVER STREET.
[Price One Penny.
One Disease, One Remedy.
Mal. ii. 1-17.
BY THE REV. RICHARD BURGESS, B.D.
PREBENDARY OF ST. PAUL'S.
At the foundation of that ungodliness, which is so prevalent amongst us, lies the natural distastë: Which men have for the things that are not seen and eternál, a positive enmity against God has taken possession of the mind and of those affections of the heart which belong to our nature, so that enmity against God is as much--the characteristic of the natural mind as mortality or decay is the property of the human countenance. This condition of humanity does not alter by time, nor is it modified in its transmission by any progress of civilisation; the disease of sin is as inveterate in an age of refinement as it was when rude barbarians stalked through the land : it is modified in outward demonstration, but not in its innate desires. It is as true now as it was in the old world. “Every imagination of the thoughts of man's (unregenerate) heart is only evil continually:" there is one disease and one remedy, and until the evil be cured at the root there can be no health in the body moral. If you would have good fruit, you must first make the tree good. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things : and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." Think it not strange, therefore, men and brethren, that when we are
gathered together to hear the word of God read and expounded, whether in the public Hall or in the streets of the city, or under the fretted vault of the Abbey, or in the parish church, we are anxious to tell you where the evils of which every one complains have their origin. We do no good by our exhortations and advice until we have set things right at the source; sins will multiply, and iniquity will abound more and more, as long as men continue to ask, Where is the God of judgment ? Nothing moral, nothing virtuous, nothing that is lovely and of good report, can come out of a profane mind and an unbelieving heart. It is in vain to tell a man to follow that which is good, whose heart is not right in the sight of God: there must be a great change first in that seat of the affections ; a new life must be given to the inner man; we must have something to work upon before we can bring our message of salvation and peace to bear with any effect upon a soul not yet made alive unto God. You might as well place an exquisite work of art before one devoid of taste, as place the beauty of holiness before a mind devoid of religion. You have heard in the chapter which I have just read to you, what the moral condition of the people of Judah was in the days of the prophet Malachi; there were a few who feared God and used to meet together to edify and sympathise with one another, but the great mass of the people were sunk into the lowest depths of depravity. Ministers of religion and people had gone down together. The prophets prophesied falsely, and the people loved to have it so. The public sense of justice and morality was well-nigh lost; the practice of the people at large was in keeping with their principles. Infidelity was openly avowed; they asked in scorn and contempt, Where is the God of judgment? They did not believe there was such a thing as virtue; they thought it was all a sham; they said, “ Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them.” They saw the most profligate among them succeed best in their schemes of fraud and wickedness; they perverted the right way of the Lord, and charged the God of holiness and truth with delighting in those that distinguished themselves most in iniquity. These were their principles; they denied that God loved righteousness, and they refused to acknowledge him as the moral governor of the world. Their practice was in accordance with their religion: they profaned the ordinances of the sanctuary, they treated their religious obligations with indifference; they violated the sanctity of the marriage tie. They said that the proud and the wicked, and those that tempted God, had the best of it. They put no restraints upon their passions and appetites; family ties were dissolved. The men met together in clubs, and uttered stout, that is, infidel words against God: they encouraged one another in ridiculing religion. The prophet tells us the sort of language they used. They said in their familiar conversations, “It is vain to serve God; what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts ?” and yet there are intimations that they had not given up altogether some profession of religion; they were seen sometimes offering an oblation, fulfilling an empty form of worship, keeping some new moon or Sabbath which their fathers had venerated. They were outwardly religious when there was anything to be got by it. They were mean and covetous, incapable of a liberal act; would not move a hand without being paid for it. But when their devotion brought them no gain, then they said, “ What profit is it that we have served the Lord ?" (1-10.) What a condition of a people called by God's name was this, my brethren! You are surprised, no doubt, that a nation with such a history, a people so wonderfully carried through eleven hundred years of dangers and vicissitudes, could have come to this! But it is no wonder, if you look at their principles, for the bottom of all this immorality: was their unworthy notions of God and their denial of his sovereign power. They wearied God with their perversion of the plainost distinctions between right and wrong. “Every one that doeth evil,” they said, “ is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them;" and they crowned their impiety by denying Him who had led their fathers through the wilderness to be the God of truth and justice. I can imagine that I see in this assembly the risings of a righteous indignation against a people so black with ingratitude. I can conceive, that if that generation which the prophet so graphically describes in their moral and social condition, were brought into the presence of this audience, many