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Tell him now of waiting God's time, and attending on the means ; when God's time has gone by these thirty, forty, sixty years, and means have had no effect all that time! Ah, I am afraid
will amuse him till his day of mercy has gone by, and he perishes in his bondage. The manslayer is fleeing from the avenger of blood, the road before him parts, a post is erected, and a board on it, on which is written in large capitals,
REFUGE, while the finger of a man's hand points to his course. He can only read a single word, and must run while he reads. If he stops to breathe he perishes.
Now such is the office of the gospel ministry, when it comes in contact with a sinner anxious to flee from the wrath to come. It can lose no time in directing him to the Lamb that was slain. It must urge him to a place of safety, and when the danger is over, then tell him of means, and urge him to prayer, and press a reform, and build him
for heaven. I proceed to a
2 Remark. We may gather from this subject a reason, why revivals of religion, in some instances, add so little to the strength of the churches. The lax instruction sometimes given to awakened sinners at such a time, even by well meaning men, who aim to be faithful, tends to nourish a growth of piety, that is sickly and effeminate, and will finally add but little to the vigour and beauty of Zi
I know that if souls are converted they will get to heaven, and blessed be God if he will convert them, but their usefulness in this life, much depends on their early instruction.
Let the doctrines be kept hid from those who are coming into the kingdom, and let there be detailed only that soothing, indistinct, and sickly instruction, which has been noticed, and the converts when made, will go halting along to heaven, and the churches and its ministry have very little comfort in them, or help from them.
They will scarcely know what converted them, whether truth or error. It was truth I know, for God sanctifies through the truth, but there was so much error mingled with it as to render it, in their own view, doubtful which produced the effect. And having associated the kindness of their youth, the love of their espousals, with so much indistinctness of doctrine, they will be likely ever after, to court this same darkened exhibition of the gospel, and finally die before they shall have learned what truth is. And while they live, they will be liable to be driven about with every wind of doctrine, and vex the church, and embarrass the ministry, and pass perhaps from one denomination to another, and finally be saved though as by fire.
They will be doubtful who converted them. They were told when under alarm, to do many things toward their own conversion, and they did them, and they were finally converted; but whether they did it themselves, or whether God did it, they find it hard to tell. And they will give others the same darkened counsel that was given them. Thus God is robbed of the glory due to his name, and the churches filled up with members, who will hang a dead weight upon every revival that shall happen in the church, till they are taken up to heaven, and taught there, what they should have learned that same week in which they were born of God.
And they may never find out in this world, what they were converted for. Men will be active in duty, only as they are rooted and grounded in the truth. In all men, truth, or what they think is truth, is the spring of action. Hence some whole churches, in this day of christian enterprise, can be brought to do nothing; and the reason is, because they know nothing distinctly. If you could enlighten them, they would act, but they will not be enlightened. The secret is, they were born in a dark, misty, and debilitating atmosphere, and they choose to live and die in the same. Let some good man, who knows and loves the truth, go into one corner of such a society, and there be active and faithful a few years, till the christians know what they were born for, and that corner of the church shall be, from that time, worth all the rest, in any labours to which God shall call his people.
I know not but we have bere one, and that not a very inefficient cause, why so many ministers
have been quarreled away from their people, immediately after some great revival. The faithful and laborious servant of God had gathered into the church a multitude of converts, and expected much from them, but had not prepared them to be useful, and when at length he urged them to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, they contended with him. If any should consider this a bold suggestion, then I hope they will make a happier one, and take away this reproach from the churches. I cannot believe, that a revival of religion, effected by the Spirit of God, under a distinguishing gospel, will tend to unsettle its ministry. But I can easily believe, that one who knows and loves the truth, may hold it back in a time of awakening, to the incalculable injury of those who are born again, and at the risk of his own sudden removal from his flock. He is afraid to give them strong meat, and feeds them with what he terms milk, but which proves to be poison, and they wither under it, and he is punished for administering it. Thus is fulfiled that inspired adage, “He that will save his life shall lose it; but he that will lose his life, for my sake an the gospel, the same shall save it.”
Finally let me say to lost men, haste your escape to Jesus Christ. You stand in imminent danger of perdition every moment.
Your ruin is nearer, and your guilt far greater, than you ever conceived. That sinner that has been the most afraid, has never been half enough afraid, of the wrath of God. It burns to the lowest hell, and when you fall beneath it, your courage will all be gone in a moment. “ Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee »
You see what the terms are, and God will never alter them, on which you can be accepted of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are the best, and the only terms that could be offered. They secure the honour of the divine law, the glory of Christ, and the eternal life of the sinner. They are humbling terms, and to reach the case they must be.
Now will you stand quarreling with the truth till you perish? Is this the right course for a sinner? You thus harden your heart, and sear your conscience, and provoke your doom. "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” May God bless his own truth, and make it a fire and hammer to break in pieces the flinty rock. Amen.