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ableness of sin. Your heart may still be unrenewed by Divine grace, and your soul without any scriptural hope.
Turn, then, to the gospel, which makes known the only remedy for the guilt of sin in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the destruction of its power in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Both are needed, and they are closely connected; for without pardon you are exposed to the justice of God, and without purity you are opposed to the holiness of God. This is the gospel testimony, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; that his blood cleanseth from all sin; that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him; and that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.' The blood which he shed on the cross has become for us "a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." Thousands have here had the guilt of their sins washed away: it is open to you.
In connexion with the redeeming work of Christ is the enlightening and converting work of the Holy Spirit: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you”- the renewing and sanctifying grace of the Spirit, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you: a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you,” Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. It is his power which gives spiritual life; he convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come: by his grace and guidance we are led to believe in Christ to the saving of the soul; and, through strength derived from him, sinful desires are opposed, and, sinful actions avoided.
Here, then, is deliverance from the punishment and pollution of sin; and in this is the earnest of perfect freedom from sin in the world to come. This IS GAIN. Will you despise the rich provision of mercy ? Remember, á sinful life will soon be over; and then the thought of pardon offered and rejected will aggravate the misery of the impenitent for ever! This is loss.
Say, reader, hath a voice within
Oft whisper'd to thy secret soul,
And yield thy heart to God's control?
It was the Spirit's gracious call;
And haste to seek in Christ thine all.
Regard in time the warning kind;
And yet the gate of mercy find!
“ As I walk along the street, and see people busy and anxious, I often think, and say to myself, 'Ah! what will your end be?'” This remark was made by an old man, who, though not possessed of much of this world's learning, knew by shrewd observation as well as by Christian experience, something of human character. “I have seen people," added he, “stooping to all sorts of meanness to scrape together a little money ;-I have known others selfishly spending all on themselves, and keeping back from the poor; and what has it all come to? Why, they have been cut off, some in the midst of their selfishness, or others have been taken from their gettings, or they have not been able to enjoy them from one cause or another; and I have said to myself, 'Ah! this is the end of all evil doings !'"
The old man's observation is justly applicable to characters commonly met with. Take the youth who has despised parental authority, and laughed at a father's counsel or a mother's prayers. He associates with bad company; he keeps late hours; he frequents the theatre, the tavern, and, it may be, the gaming table. Observe his first temptation to deception—then to theft. At one time, conscience whispered that he was doing wrong, but he has at length contrived to stifle the warning voice. Could he have seen, a few months, or it may be years ago, the depth of crime into which the course he was commencing would lead him, he would perhaps have shrunk back with horror from the thought of entering upon it; but he went on, step by step, until he became hardened in sin. He is now dead to shame, lost to affection, breaking the commandments of God, and bringing sorrow and disgrace on his fond parents without remorse. What will his end be? “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment," Eccl. ii. 9.
Look at the man of business who is wholly absorbed by traffic. Day follows day; month succeeds month; thus his years roll on, and still he is eager in pursuit of gain. See him behind his counter, full of energy, or in his counting-house, deep in calculations. He is up early in the morning, and goes late to rest; sometimes he does not even cease from labour on the sabbath, but devotes its sacred hours to making up his accounts. He seems to have no desires beyond the heaping up of wealth; he lives only to get money. All his time, all his thoughts, all his strength, are devoted to the concerns of this life, and he makes no provision for the life which is to come. He is labouring hard for the riches which he can hold, at most, but a few short years, and is letting slip the riches which should be treasured up in heaven. He is saying, like the man in the parable, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods." But what if God should say to him, “ This night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided ?” Luke xii. 18–20. “ What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?" Matt. xvi. 26.
Then think of the man of pleasure, who keeps up a forced gaiety by hurrying from one scene of amusement to another. He is to be seen on the race-course, at the theatre, or at the midnight revel;- there may be heard his loud laugh and frequent jest; but is he happy? When alone, he is spiritless and wretched. He cannot bear to be left to himself, for his reflections are painful. Memory is faithful, and will recal past follies, precious time wasted, and talents misused. He flies, therefore, to fresh scenes of excitement to rid himself of these thoughts, and, as he says, “ to kill time.” He may succeed in wearing the appearance of joy for a season; but what will the end be?“ The end of those things is death,” Rom. vi. 21.
Mark also the man who laughs at Christianity as an idle tale; who despises the gospel, and contemns the believer in Christ as a silly fanatic. For a time he may boast of his self-sufficiency-for a season he may glory in his infidelity, and blaspheme the name
be? “ He that believeth not the Son (of God) shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," John iïi. 36.
Contemplate the man who is putting off religion until old age, or till he shall be stretched on his bed, ill or dying. He says it is time enough to be serious when he is getting gray. He does not deny the necessity of making preparation for eternity, but defers it till a more convenient season. He thinks that he should like God to be his friend when he is helpless, and can no longer take pleasure in worldly enjoyments, or when dying; and he has no other hope. But he will not come to him until he is obliged ; he will not serve him so long as he can serve himself. What if this man should be cut off suddenly, without being allowed the space for the repentance he is depending on? What would his end be?
Consider likewise the state of those who, “ being ignorant of God's righteousness,” are “going about to establish their own righteousness," Rom. x. 3. Those who think to merit the kingdom of heaven by their good deeds; though God has, by his servant, declared, that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,” Titus iii. 5; that it is also said, “ By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast," Eph. ii. 8, 9. If the Bible, then, is true, as it most certainly is, these persons must be in error. If the word of God is to be believed, as it undoubtedly should be, they must be resting their hope on a false foundation. If Christ be a Saviour at all, as is the fact, he must be a perfect, all-sufficient Saviour. If, therefore, we are to be justified by faith in Christ, then those who are without Christ, or who are resting on anything short of his full atonement, must be without any well-grounded hope ; and if “ there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts iv. 12, what will their end be?
God graciously said concerning his ancient people, “ Oh that they were wise, that they would consider their latter end !" Deut. xxxii. 29. Every action of our lives, even though that action be performed without any decided purpose, is tending to a certain point; it is either advancing us in our journey to the heavenly kingdom, or else drawing us further in the opposite direction. How important, then, is the first step in every new purpose, and how necessary is it that we should look to the end !
Reader, weigh well the probable, nay, certain end of the course you are pursuing. You may readily come to a conclusion on this point; for the end of all things may be expressed in these words-happiness or misery-heaven or hell! The beginning of your career may be pleasant and promising : I“ There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end
thereof are the ways of death,” Prov. xiv. 12. Life is the beginning of your existence, but death is not the end of your being. Your body may soon be laid in the grave, and return "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust;” but you have a neverdying life-an accountable and immortal soul. Do you keep the interest of your soul in view, even amidst your temporal concerns, so that whilst fulfilling your earthly duties, your regard and your hopes are fixed on those things which are eternal? or are you going on in thoughtless unconcern as to its future well-being ? Pause, and allow your conscience to answer faithfully: it will decide what, should you die in your present state, your end will be.
As you have read these pages, perhaps a still small voice has whispered that your own character has been given in one or other of those presented. If it should be so, do not turn a deaf ear to the warning voice; it is better that you should know the truth, though it be a painful truth, now, than that you should discover your danger when it is too late: “ To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts," Heb. iii. 15; for how will you escape, if you neglect so great salvation ? “ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation," % Cor. vi. 2. Now the door of mercy is open, and you may come to Christ. Come now; come as you are. Do not wait to make yourself worthy; all your doings in your own strength are of no avail. Without Christ you can do nothing; you must come to him as a sinner; for your sinfulness and conscious need of him are the only pleas you can urge, or he will accept. Lay aside all self-dependence and self-righteousness, and come to Christ simply believing and trusting in him, and your end shall be peace.
.“ Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together : the end of the wicked shall be cut off," Psa. xxxvii. 37, 38.
The time is short !--the season near,
When death will us remove,
And all we fondly love!
Nor trifle time away;
“ While it is callid to-day.”
To Christ the Lord submit;
And fall at Jesus' feet.