« PreviousContinue »
THE SINNER CONDEMNED.
nishes of approaching death. The convicted criminal may be full of life and gaiety, executing his plans of business or pleasure, when, lo! the death-warrant grates upon his ear. He is claimed as a victim. The justice he has outraged can no longer sleep.
Such is the sudden death of a sinner. It is an execution. It is not the kind, the sudden summoning away to his rest of the Christian, worn out in the service of his Master. To the Christian, death is infinite gain, whether he come to his grave after a long sickness or by a flash of lightning. Whenever and however his spirit is separated from the body, it is “present with the Lord.” It is but escaping unexpectedly from his sins --an early victory granted him by his gracious Lord, before he could hope to find the notes of triumph breaking from his lips. But how different is it to the condemned sinner! He has lived by indulgence. The hand of justice has been stayed. His sudden removal terminates the period of forbearance, and executes upon him the sentence. Such an event may fill us with alarm, but it is no mystery. It is only a carrying out of the principles of justice already pronounced. The only mystery is, that sentence against his evil deeds had not been before executed, that his sins have not sooner brought upon him exemplary punishment.
But let me not be thought to awaken groundless forebodings of wrath to come. Do I utter notes of alarm? It is that the sinner may be aroused from his slumbers, and hasten his escape. And, blessed be God, there is a way of escape. Yes, though a prisoner under sentence of death, you are not without hope. The sentence which binds you to death is not unchangeable.
True, you cannot look to a higher tribunal, or hope that the claims of the law will be disregarded. Neither of these is possible. Your guilt has been established, and the law which condemns you is "holy, and just, and good." Yet you may escape through the door of forgiveness. God has provided a way by which the penitent and believing sinner may be pardoned---even by “ the death of his Son." There is forgiveness with God: "being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” He became a curse for men, that he might deliver them that were under the curse. To give the sinner, under sentence of death, an opportunity to avail himself of the provisions of the gospel, he is suffered to live. Y var after year of forbearance is allotted him. The criminal convicted and sentenced at a human tribunal is yet allowed to send a petition to his sovereign. So may you now approach the Lord of the universe to seek for pardon. And what is more, not one who has gone humbly to him, pleading the merits of Christ, was ever rejected.
But what would you think of the hardened wretch who, if assured that his petition would be regarded, should in sullen silence await the execution of his sentence, and suffer days and weeks to pass away without seeking for pardon? Would you not cry out against such infatuation ? And what less than this is your own slumbering over the fearful doom that awaits you? Do you imagine that the day of execution will never overtake you ? Not so: the time of your reprieve has its limit. The very day on which you have entered may bring it to a close. At the longest, it will soon be ended. Think you that the violated law will relinquish its victim? No. There is but one way of escaping its penalty, and that is by faith in a crucified Saviour. O bestir yourself. Seek forgiveness while you may.
“So shall that curse remove
By which the Saviour bled ;
Its blessings on your head." Delay a little longer, and the day of mercy will be over. The death-warrant will be in the hands of the officer, and while you dream of peace, sudden destruction will come upon you, and you cannot escape.
The SINNER'S REJECTION OF THE SAVIOUR. — Whilst men compare themselves only with each other, or substitute the corrupt standard of the world for the unalterable law of God, and are thus ignorant as well of the rule of duty as of their own hearts, it is no wonder that they stand upon their supposed merits, and resist the doctrines of grace. But if they once come to know themselves and the Holy Spirit of their Saviour, and will honestly, and as in the presence of God, examine their hearts and lives by that perfect rule of virtue, they will gradually discover their extreme guilt and depravity, they will learn to welcome and glory in the salvation which they now misunderstand and despise : and justification by faith in the Redeemer, and in his righteousness, imputed to them without the deeds of the law, will appear a blessing infinitely desirable and suitable ; and in fact, the only blessing by which their deplorable misery can be relieved.-Rev. Daniel Wilson.
CHRISTIANITY teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly, by the precepts which it enjoins—by the examples which it exhibits—by the motives which it suggests—by the grace which it communicates—by the aid which it promises, and by the hope which it inspires.—Dickson.
THOMAS CRANFIELD. THOMAS CRANFIELD, the son of an unlettered journeyman baker, untaught in the ways of godliness, was born on the 12th of March, 1758, in Smith’s Rents, Bankside, Southwark.
For seven years he was in the parochial school of St. Mary Overie, Southwark, but seemingly with little advantage; for, being of a vicious and cruel disposition, and disliking his book, the seed of instruction was sown on a stony soil. To play the truant, and mispend his time, was his delight. Foolish jesting was among his follies; and swearing, lying, and stealing, were among his sins; but never, perhaps, was he so well pleased as when indulging his disposition for cruelty and brutality.
He who in his youthful days could break the sabbath, rob the pockets of his mother, hang cats and dogs, and find merriment in the dying agonies of tormented creatures, must needs have gone far in depravity. It is said that, in giving way to his savage disposition, he made a complete slaughter-house of his father's cellar. At one time he hung a playfellow by the neck, and at another set fire to a house ; but, providentially, the struggling lad was discovered in time for his life to be saved, and the flames of the dwelling-house were extinguished. So depraved was Thomas Cranfield when a boy.
In his fourteenth year he was bound apprentice to a respectable man, a tailor, who did his best not only to instruct him in his business, but to reform him. He knew not the task he had undertaken. Young Cranfield had sinned and suffered. He had been in many instances in great danger of death, and the goodness of God had rescued him; but neither what he had suffered, nor his signal deliverances, at all affected his mind; he had grown more hardened in sin, returning to it as the dog to his vomit, and the sow to her wallowing in the mire.
Hardly could he read a chapter in the Testament, and very little could he write, when he was bound apprentice: in fifteen months afterwards, however, he had made some progress in reading and writing, and obtained an indifferent knowledge of his trade. During this time he had been taken regularly on the sabbath to the house of God; but his wilful disposition was not to be restrained, and he ran away from his master. Oh! what a thorny path is that which is trodden by the wicked!
Reduced to extreme distress, he sold his clothes and his Bible: the latter was the gift of his mother: and then, like the poor prodigal of old, he began to think of the table that was once spread for him, and of his present hunger and wretchedness. So low was he reduced, that the master for whom he now worked made him share with a favourite dog his daily allowance of food. At last he bound himself to another master, and worked from four in the morning till eleven or twelve at night, receiving for his services little food and no money, while his slightest faults were visited with the severest chastisement. Once more he ran away, intending to return to his first master in London. Such was Thomas Cranfield as an apprentice. What less than the mighty power of God could change his heart, and guide his feet into the patlıs of righteousness!
We have next to look at him as a soldier. Falling in with a recruiting party belonging to the 39th regiment of foot, he enlisted, and was soon on board ship, bound for Gibraltar. At that time General Eliot was governor of the fort.
The siege of Gibraltar by the Spaniards, the desperate attempts to reduce the fortress, and the determined resistance of the British, are among the memorable events of European warfare. Thomas Cranfield was one of the most daring of the garrison : he despised danger; and provoked the Spaniards, by coolly fishing from the rock, within reach of their artillery. He ventured on the most hazardous enterprises, and performed acts of outrageous valour. Though compelled, by the short allowance of food, to eat the flesh of cats and dogs, (for bread was sold at a guinea the quartern loaf, and the entrails of a pig at four and sixpence per pound;) though shot and shells were continually
his side into eternity,—his heart was unimpressed with his deliverance; he cared for nothing, but even seemed to take delight in the bloody scene.
How great are the evils of war! What hateful passions ! what garments rolled in blood! what cruel sufferings ! and what awful consequences does it involve!
Cranfield, in all his recklessness and impiety, was mercifully preserved, that the slave of Satan might become a faithful soldier of Christ.
In the year 1783 he returned home a corporal. During his absence, his father had been taught, by a heavenly Instructor, to know Him“ whom to know is eternal life.” He received his prodigal son as a gift from God, in answer to his prayers, and took him on the sabbath-day to worship in the sanctuary. The preaching of the Rev. W. Romaine and the Rev. R. Cecil was made the means of opening his eyes to behold the wondrous things of God's holy law, of bringing hun“ to true repentance, and of inclining his heart to believe in Jesus Christ, as having died for his sins, and risen for his justification. From that time, but not without some backslidings, he continued to grow in grace, and in the knowledge and love of the Redeemer, abounding in faith, zeal, and good works, and furnishing a striking example of the mighty power of the grace of God. Thus the careless was awakened, the cruel was made kind, and the slave of sin became the willing servant of the Lord.
Filled with love to Him who had plucked him as a brand from the burning, and with concern for the souls of his fellow-sinners, and fired with zeal for God's glory, he began to give proofs of his willingness to endure hardships, to make sacrifices, and to spend and be spent in the service of his gracious Saviour. Much had been forgiven, and he loved much.
Among the brickmakers of Kingsland he established a prayermeeting, and collected money to relieve their distress in winter. At Stoke Newington, Tottenham, Rotherhithe, Kennington, Southwark, and in the wretched neighbourhood of the Mint, with the assistance of his friends, he opened Sunday schools. Thousands of children had the benefit of his instruction, and hundreds declared the good that had been done to their souls.
The state of London was awful when Thomas Cranfield began his Christian career. Impiety, and crime, and wickedness, abounded; and it required more than common boldness to attempt to stem the current of iniquity. He was connected with the earliest Sunday-schools of London, establishing one in his own house. He was eminently a man of prayer, having that love for others' souls which led him to make exertions and sacrifices for them. His time, his talents, and his hard earnings,