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obtain religion, to secure an interest in Christ; but I cannot attend to that now." These were her last words. In a few minutes she expired. Sinner, hasten your return to God, if you would not be arrested in a similar manner, and die without hope.
You have a great work to do. In matters of earthly business men exert themselves according to the greatness of the work they have in hand. Thus the long distance of Abraham's servant from home made him the more anxious to begin his return inmediately. You have a great work in hand; you are far from God, and far from that home which is eternal in the heavens. Begin, then, your return immediately, lest it soon be for ever too late to do so. Seek the Lord Jesus Christ, believe in him, and begin a new life of loving obedience. This great work cannot be safely put off for any time. If you grieve the Holy Spirit, and he leave you to your native blindness and obstinacy, you will never see the face of God as the God of grace. Fear will soon come upon you as desolation, and destruction as a whirlwind.
Let the difficulties of the way excite you to break through all hindrances at once. Difficulties are a reason for earnest effort, and at once, and not for sloth and delay. So, Abraham's servant, who knew the perils of the journey, would not increase them by negligence. Fellow traveller to eternity, dangers lurk in your path. The snares of the adversary are spread beneath your feet; the world without, and evil propensities within, like so many enemies, lie in wait to destroy your soul. These difficulties are already formidable, and by delay will soon become insurmountable. Hasten to the Lamb of God without delay, or you will never enter the mansions of the blessed in glory.
You are intrusted with immortal interests, with the care of the undying spirit. If saved, who can number its joys, while the vast periods of eternity are passing on? if lost, who can count the billows of wrath which shall roll over it in that lake which burns with unquenchable fire ? Reader, will you not instantly throw yourself on the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, receiving and believing the promise of God in him? You defer at your peril. You put to hazard your soul and your eternal interests, of more value than worlds and the universe. May the Holy Spirit lead you to come at once to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood cleanseth from all sin !
The present moment flies,
And bears our life away ;
That they may live to-day.
Oh, be it still pursued!
Should never be renewid !
When pestilence is raging, who would be blamed for bidding the infected seek a speedy cure? There is a worse pestilence than cholera or the plague, and every human being suffers from the contagion. It is the plague of sin. This kills not the body only, but the soul, and with a death whose pangs will last for ever. Men, blinded by unbelief or self-righteousness, are often not aware that they are dying of this infection, till recovery is hopeless. This ignorance is as sinful as it is fatal, for the great God bears testimony to the fearful fact, that by nature all are perishing of this plague: “ The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth," Gen. viii. 21. “The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live,” Eccles. ix. 3. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it ?" Jer. xvii. 9.
Thus, the heart of every man is by nature only evil. Pride leads men to form false views of themselves, and to indulge self-flattery. The love of sinful pleasure is fostered by the deceitfulness of the heart : vices are excused, and holiness
despised. The enmity of the heart to God excuses false reasonings against his perfections, his word, his judgments, and the doctrines he reveals; and it is awfully apparent in the indifference that is shown respecting his favour or displeasure. That the heart is full of evil, is a dreadful fact confirmed by innumerable proofs.
The aboundings of sin confirm the fact. Could all the sins that are committed in twenty-four hours, in any town or city,
drunkenness, the dishonesty and cheating tricks, the passion, and malice, and envy, the revenge and hatred, the pride and selfimportance, be made visible in one view, what a hideous mass
evil of the heart. He who searches the heart, declares, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blaspl'emy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man," Mark vii. 21–23.
All run not to the extreme of wickedness. Checks, of various kinds, prevent the full display of the evil of the heart; yet, unless changed through Divine grace, every heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and there are no lengths of wickedness to which, if left to themselves, any might not go. It is related of the excellent John Bradford, that when he saw a criminal going to execution, he would say, “ There goes John Bradford, but for the grace of God.” No servant of sin knows to what excess in wickedness he might proceed. When Hazael was told by the prophet what crimes he would commit, he said, “ What, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ?” 2 Kings viii. 13. Yet soon he committed all those crimes.
This wickedness is most completely displayed in direct enmity to God: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Volney said this; but in a storm on an American lake, recanted and cried out, “O my God, my God, what shall I do?" “Well, Mr. Volney," said a passenger, “ you have a God now.”
safely reached land, he showed again the enmity of his heart to God by denying his existence. And this enmity to God is shown, not merely by atheists, but by pretended philosophers, who“ often produce specious and fatal instruments of destruction by framing impious and infidel systems. These gratify the curiosity, pride, and presumption of man, suit his carnal mind, and silence his conscience. On this poison numbers feed and perish.”
THE HEART'S MADNESS.
colonel Gardiner, that after his conversion it was reported he was gone mad; and that on one occasion, after being exposed to the raillery of some of his former associates, he challenged them to bring forward anything they could urge to prove that a life of irreligion and sensual pleasure was preferable to a life spent in the love and service of God. Some of them attempted an answer, but the master of the house, a candid, though not a pious man, cut short the debate by saying, “ Come, let us call another cause; we thought this man mad, and he is in good earnest proving that we are so." This in effect will ere long be the confession of all who make light of the great salvation.
Is it madness to neglect the best friends ? yet this is done with respect to One far better than any earthly friends. What would not Goi be to you, and do for you? The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-Jehovah-would bless you with love surpassing knowledge, and with eternal heavenly treasureş. What madness to neglect such a Friend!
Again : see the madness of the heart in men's willing subjection to their greatest enemy. They would not submit to a thief or a murderer, but be enraged at his attempts to rob or destroy them; yet they are not enraged at Satan working in their hearts, that he may rob them of heaven, and destroy them in hell!
The madness of the heart is shown in man's neglect of everlasting blessings for momentary things. Would it be madness if, for the sake of one hour's enjoyment, a man were to give up wealth that he might otherwise keep for a long life, or to incur poverty, want, and misery for the whole of life, at the price of a moment's pleasure ? Alas! there is more fatal madness in losing heaven for earth. This sinful neglect is seen in the ardour with which multitudes pursue trifles that will soon avail them nothing, while they make light of Christ and his salvation. Suppose the case of many criminals shut up in prison, all condemned to die. They have, however, a brief respite, in which pardon may be sought and found. But instead of seeking pardon, or even thinking of its value, one employs his whole time in ornamenting his cell, and calls it his estate. Another spends all his time in trying to find out the nature of the soil under his prison. A third occupies his whole season of mercy in gazing on the stars through a casement. Day after day passes, till the day of execution comes, and then, too late, they awake to the madness of their course. What better is the course of all, except the few who truly follow Jesus? Whether the object of human pursuit be wealth, or pleasure, or learning, or honour, too late will those who have made these things the chief aim of their lives find, that while they squandered on them the day of salvation, madness was in their hearts.
This madness is further seen in the readiness with which men
crowd the broad way that leadeth to destruction. Unpardoned sinners are condemned criminals travelling to the abyss of utter woe. God warns them of this, yet they heed not the warnings of his word. Were you to see a company of men going gaily along some wide high-road, and to inquire of them, “ Whither are you going ?” “ To prison.”—“ What sort of prison ?” “All its dungeons are dismal, its torments are dreadful; and those who go in, never come out;" surprise would seize you. Here indeed is madness! Alas! far worse is the madness that fills the heart of multitudes, beyond all counting, who pursue the way that is leading them to the fiery prison, prepared for the devil and his angels.
If anything can make this madness of the heart more awful, it is the dreadful fact that the mischief it causes, once done, can never be undone. The loss of God, and Christ, and eternal life, can never be retrieved. Death, misery, condemnation, and hell, once incurred, can never be escaped.
This madness of the heart is as real in the moral and amiable who neglect salvation, as in the profligate and infidel. Nor will it signify whether a butterfly or a crown be the object pursued, if Christ and his salvation are made light of.
The fact that the heart is full of evil, and desperately wicked, shows how indispensable to happiness is a Divine change within. No outward forms will avail us anything, if there be not a new heart. Of this all the heirs of salvation are made partakers. God promises this, Ezek. xxxvi. 26: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” The dispositions and principles implanted by God's Holy Spirit, subdue the evil and madness of the heart. Partaking of this change, the penitent believer now loves his best friends, and hates the foes whom once he served. Brought to Christ, and believing in him, he lives a life of faith, sees earth to be only a secondary object, and seeks a home in heaven. And when his time on earth shall have passed, he goes to dwell for ever with the Lord he loved.
Reader! what are you? If you reject these truths, alas ! you suffer from a fatal madness, that must be removed, or you must perish. May all the readers receive the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and, being led by the Spirit of God, become “the sons of God," Titus iii. 5, Rom. viii. 14.