« PreviousContinue »
neighbour was called from earth, been ready to exclaim, “ Who would have thought that one so young and strong would be the first to go?" and why may not that which has befallen others, befall you also ? Oh, be assured of the truth of those words of the apostle James, “ Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Jas. iv, 14. Are you then ready to stand in the presence of God? Are you ready to give account of every thought, and word, and deed? Ask yourselves, should the angel of the Lord be sent to summon you from the theatre, the race-course, the fair, the gaming-table, or from any of the haunts of vice where the hours of night are passed in the dance and the revel, in listening to the song of the drunkard, the curses of the blasphemer, or the indecent jests of the corrupt; ask yourselves, if from such scenes as these you should be called to take your place among the silent dead, where would your souls be found at the dreadful day of account? Oh, tremble to think that the terrible sentence would then be pronounced against you, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!” Matt. xxv. 41.
It is said of the kingdom of heaven, that “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie," Rev. xxi. 27: and can you enter into such scenes as those just named, without being polluted by them? Can you be present where the modesty of woman is forgotten and cast off; where oaths are uttered and listened to with as much indifference as any other common forms of speech; where lies and filthy conversation are received with laughter and applause ; can you be in the midst of such things without being defiled by them? If such are your earthly pleasures and pursuits, how can you be fit for the joys of heaven? Oh, while you have time, flee for your life!
To every reader there is but one way of preparation, and that is at hand. But lose not a moment, it may be your last; seek the Lord Jesus Christ in earnest; lean on Him as your Rock of defence; come to Him by a true faith, that you may be covered with the robe of his righteousness; look to Him for pardon, and for justification, and sanctification by his Spirit; bring to Him all your sins, your sorrows, your cares; repent, and believe the gospel, and thus shall you find peace all the days of your life; and whether the hour of your departure shall be in the morning of youth, the mid-day of manhood, or tne evening I of old age, it will be but the changing of a vile body for a glo
rious body; the passing from trial and sorrow to peace and glory,
is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent," John vi. 27, 29. Salvation is a gift, but the sinner must strive to enter in at the strait gate, Luke xiii. 24, and count all things loss to win Christ, Phil. iii. 8. You have to gain salvation ; to escape the curse and condemnation to which sin has exposed you; to obtain pardon and peace with God; thus to flee from hell, and secure heaven; and all this by receiving Jesus, John i. 12. If all this be gained, your work is not done. You have then to glorify Christ by overcoming the tempter, Jas. i. 12; by acquiring the mind and likeness of your Lord, Phil. ii. 5; by doing his will, John xiv. 21-23; and being faithful unto death, Rev. ii. 10. Who is sufficient for these things ? None in himself; but aided by the Holy Spirit all may be accomplished.
This work is of infinite importance. All other business ends at death. Labour, in acquiring learning, wealth, honour, finishes there; but this weightier business extends its influence over all eternity. Other pursuits may exalt their successful votaries to mansions on earth; but the pursuit of salvation to mansions in heaven. Earthly pursuits may save from poverty for a moment, this from everlasting want; those secure distinctions fading like a flower,—this eternal life.
Dying immortal, this business is of infinite moment to thee. By seeking or neglecting salvation, thou wilt secure or lose that for which Jesus laboured, suffered, and died; that which renders angels blessed; that which the spirits of the just would not part with for millions of worlds. A dying queen of England is reported to have said, “ A world for an inch of time!” What would a lost spirit not give for the salvation so many now neglect !
For this great business you have only a short day. Life, hasty, fleeting, uncertain life, is that day. Now, if unconverted, you may pause, consider, pray, repent, decide to flee from the wrath to come; now you may receive Christ, come to him, and find rest to your soul. Now, if a Christian indeed, you may struggle, watch, walk by faith, commune with God, look to Jesus, improve your talents, and lay hold on eternal life. The day for this in all cases is short, and in all uncertain. It may not last another hour. Your sun may go down at noon: God promises not an hour. At any time your heart may cease to beat, your pulse to move, your lungs to act, and life's eventful day may finish. Should it not finish suddenly, yet it shortens continually. How many of your years are ended, how many sabbaths past, how many birth-days departed! You are all these nearer to the end of the day allowed for life's great work, “ The night cometh, when no man can work.”
NOW AND FOR EVER.
the day of salvation will shortly end, 2 Cor. vi. 2. Years are flying by; your last day, your last hour, are coming apace. Then ends the day of salvation, What is then undone must be undone for ever. There is no coming back to earth to perform the great work that has been madly neglected-no doing that work in eternity. Eternity is not the day of salvation. Eternity is for other employments, for the praises of heaven or the wailings of hell. There is no repenting, no conversion, no finding pardon, no fleeing to Jesus there ; no holy struggles, no conflicts with sin, no watching and praying are there: these are not needed in heaven, and are not desired in hell. Oh, if these were, how changed were both! If the security of heaven were taken away, what gloom would darken its now happy mansions! If the hopelessness of hell were removed, how its despair would vanish! what light would shine in that outer darkness! But it cannot be; when the night cometh, no man can work. But even before the night of death arrives, the day of salvation may end. The Spirit of God may cease to strive, and may give up the impenitent sinner to a hardened heart; or the powers of reason may fail, and he who still lives on earth may have his state for eternity as firmly fixed as if he were numbered with the dead.
Traveller to eternity, think how dreadful is their state whose great work is undone when the night of death arrives ! The state of the deathless soul is then fixed; what a man is then, he will be for ever-the impenitent for ever impenitent, the unconverted for ever unconverted. He that is unjust will be unjust still, and he that is filthy will be filthy still; under the curse for sin, and for ever accursed ; without Christ, and ever without him; a stranger to God, and for ever a stranger. Awfully dreadful is this state, as it is ruin to an immortal soul that can never be remedied. When man fell, a Saviour was provided; but no saviour is provided for those whose day of salvation is lost. The mischief inflicted cannot be remedied. A woman took poison; then awaking to her condition, she would have suffered anything, or given anything, if medical aid could have preserved her life. But help was vain, the deed was done that could not be undone. Alas! it is thus when the day of salvation is trifled or sinned away. A deadly wound is given to all the hopes, the good, the blessings that the soul might have enjoyed; and that wound can never be healed. There were privileges; but they are gone. God was good, Christ was gracious, the Holy Spirit merciful; but they were neglected and despised. Sabbaths came in blessed succession; but the last has ended, and never will return. The doom of the soul is fixed, its ruin sealed, and eternal ages will bring no change..
Hapless immortals! to them how awful is the loss of all good!
Good exists; there it is in heaven : but it is lost to them all lost. There are myriads happy; there eternal peace and love and joy abound: but these are all lost. There is Jesus ; but his blood-bought, slighted salvation is lost. There is the blessed God; but his rejected favour comes no more.
And not only all good is lost, but the hope of deliverance dies. There is hell, there are wailings, cursings, anguish ; but the day of salvation is gone, the means of escape are vanished. Oh, if there were one glimmering hope, the most distant hope ! but there is none : the worm never dieth, and the fire never shall be quenched, Mark ix. 43–48. What, then, will triflers think of having lost salvation's only day?
But another scene opens to view at the end of the day of salvation. It is their blessedness, whose great work is done before “ the night cometh, when no man can work.” “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth :—that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them," Rev. xiv. 13. Contemplate their happiness as described in the Scriptures that cannot deceive. John xii. 26, xiv. 1-3. 2 Cor. v. 1-10. Rev, vii. 9-17; xxi. xxii.
Blessed are the followers of the Lamb. They are safe and ready for life's last hour. Blessed, when life has finished, and death has passed. Eternal day opens on them, and there is no night there. Happy conquerors! Happy in having left all evil behind. Pains, sorrows, conflicts, doubts, and fears, sickbed anguish, and dying pangs are all ended. Happier still in possessing unbounded and eternal good. All that Jesus gives, all that God bestows, all that will bless a whole cternity, is theirs.
Reader, which of these states, so opposite, will be yours? One surely will before many years are past. You have a day of salvation. Lose it not, lest you lose your all! Flee to Jesus ! Count all things dross that you may win Christ. Commit your ruined soul to him. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” May the Eternal Spirit lead you to Jesus, and bless you thus for ever!