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you not only will have more leisure for it at a future period, but feel better disposed to struggle with its difficulties; yet be assured the very reverse of this shall be experienced. As every succeeding day finds you more indisposed for it in the meanwhile, without doubt it will continue increasingly so in time to
If, therefore, you hope ever to find it easy, you must address yourself to it without any longer delay.
10. Consider that your opportunities for self-examination will soon be at an end.—To
God has already given much time to prepare for eternity. Sabbath has been added to sabbath, and year to year, that you might secure immortal happiness, by believing in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. But still you are ignorant whether this work is properly begun. Still you know not whether you are a genuine believer in Christ, or under the fearful condemnation of unbelief. “ Now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” Your day of life may already be far spent, and the night of your death may be at hand. Uncertain as you are of the duration of
abode on earth, you ought not to delay another day, till you diligently examine your state, and know that you are endeavouring to rest on Christ for salvation. Before another day has arrived it may be too late. Your course may be finished, and your destiny unalterably fixed. You can have no assurance of the contrary.
It is readily admitted, that if you be interested in
Christ, though unassured of it, death cannot hurt you. . But though you may be saved, it will be as by fire, -through much disquietude and apprehension of danger. In such a case, you must be deprived of opportunities to honour God upon earth, by gratefully acknowledging what he has wrought in you, and encouraged you to expect. You must put it out of your power to be instrumental in inducing others to glorify your heavenly Father, by testifying to them from your experience, that wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness; and by inviting them, from what you have felt, to taste and see that God is good. And you must, to a great degree, want that consolation which alleviates the pressure of affliction, cheers the soul in passing through the dark valley and shadow of death, and inspires a song of triumph on the brink of the grave. As you value these advantages, lose not your present opportunities.
But should you be found a self-deceiver, flattering yourself with delusive hopes of heaven, till death open your eyes on eternity, your mistake must be fatal. Your knowledge of your state then, will be too late to enable you to rectify your error. Much as you may then desire to have another opportunity to search and try your ways, and to turn to the Lord, to obtain it will be impossible. Though the wealth of worlds then were yours, you would readily part with it all to receive one of these precious hours with which you are now favoured, but which you so much undervalue and neglect. Let this consideration, therefore, stimulate you without delay to set
about the work of self-examination. " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might : for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.”*
11. The period is not far distant when you must be tried and judged by God.— The man who is assured that his conduct must be subjected to the scrutiny of a strict and impartial judge, ought carefully and frequently to try himself. Nor will it be found otherwise, in matters pertaining to this life. The most thoughtless and hardened of our race, when he finds that unavoidably he must appear before an earthly tribunal, to be tried at the hazard of losing his life, cannot remain indifferent about the result. He must and will particularly inquire into all the circumstances of his case, and be solicitous to know how it is possible for him to escape condemnation.
You, my dear reader, have been forewarned by God himself, that “ he has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead;" and that “ he will then render to every man according to the deeds done in the body.”+ You have been assured by him who is the Amen, the faithful, and the true Witness, that your thoughts, and words, and actions shall then be minutely and thoroughly searched, -that every secret purpose and deed shall be brought forth to light, and your real character be nakedly exposed, in all its de
formity, in the presence of assembled angels and
You know that it is impossible for you to evade this strict, and public, and impartial scrutiny. And already you are informed what shall be the truly fearful sentence which the Almighty Judge shall pronounce against you, if you be found destitute of a saving interest in Christ.
With all this clearly before you, what dreadful infatuation is it to remain cold and unconcerned about the decision of that great and terrible day of the Lord ! Instead of this, might we not reasonably expect that
would be filled with an unceasing solicitude, to know what shall then be your portion ? Might we not reasonably expect that you would account no labour too much to ascertain this, assured as you are that it may now be ascertained, and commanded and encouraged as you are to seek to know it? Might we not think that it would be impossible for you tranquilly to embark in any worldly pursuit, to participate of any worldly pleasure, or to give sleep to your eyes and slumber to your eyelids, while you are uncertain what shall be your lot on that day? Might we not conclude that the prospect of that great and final judgment, from which there is no exemption and no appeal, would incessantly haunt your minds by day, and disturb your dreams by night ? Might we not conclude that such a prospect would permit you no longer to live in doubt respecting your spiritual state, and compel you to use your utmost endeavours to make sure your title to eternal life; that when Christ shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, you also may appear with him in glory ?
Ponder now, my reader, these arguments and motives to self-examination. Cast them not with cold indifference behind your back, as matters in which you have no interest. Rather account them a message from the Lord, calling you to a duty intimately connected with your peace and safety in time, and your happiness for eternity. And that you may be qualified to engage in it with understanding, and to perform it with advantage, I shall endeavour, in the following chapters, to give you some assistance.