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were liberally bestowed, and he never held back from any good he could perform.
Though despised, insulted, and pelted with filth, by those he would have gladly served, he persevered in doing good to the wretched and abandoned. With a courage not to be daunted, and a perseverance that was not to be overcome, he entered the lodging-house and the jail on his errands of benevolence and mercy. He gave to others, while he himself suffered need; and contributed to the comfort of the distressed, when he wanted a blanket to his own bed. This was his course even to old age.
As he drew near his latter end, his soul ripening for glory, he increased in humility and spirituality of mind. “There was a power and sweetness in his conversation on the wonders of redeeming grace : a glow of delight seemed to animate his countenance as he testified his confidence in God, his trust in the promises, his love to the Saviour, his pantings after a conformity to his image, and his bright anticipations of that day when he should awake up altogether in his likeness.” His heart seemed centred in heaven. On Tuesday, November 27th, 1838, full of years, and abounding in patience, hope, faith, and love for the Redeemer, he fell asleep.
Thus died Thomas Cranfield, once the wicked and cruel boy; the hardened, runaway apprentice; the reckless and hard-hearted soldier; but, by the grace of God, the affectionate, pious father; the zealous, persevering Sunday-school teacher; the eminently useful and devoted servant of God; and the humble and faithful follower of the Redeemer:
And now let us sum up the character of this good soldier of Christ, who fought the good fight of faith, and came off more than conqueror through the Captain of his salvation.
He patiently endured sickness and the loss of friends, poverty, reproach, and unkindness. He laboured for the temporal and spiritual welfare of the vilest of the vile ; ragged, filthy, and depraved children; gipsies, harlots, thieves, and convicted felons; and he visited the fatherless and the widow in their affliction.
He established schools and benevolent institutions. He visited the abodes of sickness, lodging-houses, and prisons. He distributed tracts, explained the word of God, and successfully pleaded the cause of the condemned malefactor. He fed the hungry, clothed the naked, relieved the poor, instructed the ignorant, reproved the vicious, comforted the mourner, and zealously proclaimed the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Reader! what has thy Saviour done for thee? and what art thou doing for his glory? [For full particulars of this devoted Christian, see a volume, entitled, “ The
Useful Christian," etc., published by the Religious Tract Society.]
A CONVENIENT SEASON. "Go THY WAY FOR THIS TIME; WHEN I HAVE A CONVENIENT SEASON, I WILL CALL FOR THEE.” So spake Felix to the apostle Paul, “as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.” The haughty Roman governor, consciencesmitten, trembled before his prisoner, yet bade him depart till he could find a better time to attend to his message. Though Felix sent often for the apostle and communed with him, it is to be feared that he never so called for him as to receive and obey his message, but died a rebel against God, Acts xxiv. 24–26.
Many still adopt in heart and practice the language of Felix; many still look forward to their CONVENIENT season. But few have any clear idea of what they mean, further than that it is not the present time; they are always intending to repent, and never are ready. Thus they live and die without repentance and faith, and their souls are lost.
Dear reader, now unprepared, what do you intend by a convenient season? The present time, it seems, is not such for you. There must then be something in the future to which you look that does not belong to the present. What is it? God's convenient season is now. “ Now," he says, “is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” 2 Cor. vi. 2. The grand inquiry is, W’ill you have a more convenient season ?
You think, perhaps, that you are now too full of cares; you have too much business to occupy you; you need more leisure. But what business is so important as that of the soul? What is in such danger of being neglected ? And will the future be more free from cares? Do you certainly know this? Can you tell how the world will go with you? how far your business will prosper? what new events will take place affecting your interests? If now you are too busy, will you be less busy hereafter? Is the probability so strong that it is well to risk on it the soul's eternal welfare?
But some particular plan or enterprise engrosses your time: you only wait till this be over, and then you will be ready-nothing shall prevent you. Death may prevent you. The loss of reason may prevent you. Your very business, too, may bring results in its train which you cannot foresee. The resolution of to-day will soon be forgotten, as many others have been. You have put off the period longer and longer still, and as yet have done nothing to seek peace with God. Think, will it not be so again?
But you wait till more powerful means are used with you. What means have not been used with you ? Have you not had the Bible to tell you that you are a sinner against God; and that you must be born again ? Have you not heard of a Saviour, and rejected him ? Have you not been prayed for, and warned, and entreated ? Has not the Holy Spirit of God sought you, and striven with your heart? Has not conscience urged on you your danger ? Have not the providences of God spoken to you? Have not friends died, perhaps with warnings to you on their last breath? You, too, perhaps, have yourself been nigh to death, and, in agony of soul, promised to live to God; but you have broken that promise, and torn yourself away from his arms of everlasting love. How then can you look for more powerful means ?
Do you wait till you feel the influences of God's Spirit on your heart? Have they not been resisted by you? Even now they may be gently drawing and urging you. Yes, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit in loving entreaty may be whispering to you, “ Come, for all things are now ready." Take care lest you once more resist him, as you have so often done, and he be indeed taken from you for ever. Lift up your heart to God to bless you, and implore the Spirit to be your comforter and guide.
Besides, what can means effect while you remain thoughtless or undecided to comply? They may arouse you, as they have others,
A CONVENIENT SEASON.
do you look to receive them ? Has God promised them? Can you l.ope for them while you still abuse his grace? Will the Holy Spirit be more likely to strive with you for being again resisted? Will delay make it easier for you? Will an ever-hardening heart gain for you strength of purpose to serve God? Why cannot you now think of your danger, and cry to God for mercy ? Is not the danger real-the ruin awful ? Why not now resolve to be his; to live to him henceforth and for ever? Is not his blessing worth striving to obtain ? Is there anything to hinder you in the doctrines of his word ? His word is truth-it will never change. It will ever be the same in your fancied convenient season. Shall it hinder you now and for ever?
But again, you say that all your relatives and friends refuse to come to Christ. But should they not, will you give up your convenient season? Or will you go to perdition because they go; and lose your soul, because they lose theirs ? Will it be a comfort to you in eternal torment, that your father, mother, brother, sister, wife, husband, or other near and dear friends, are with you there? Will it make the misery of hell more tolerable ? Can you better endure, with them the wrath of Almighty God? Why should their penitence or impenitence decide you? They cannot repent or believe for you? You must yourself repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You must be born again, or he for ever lost. Why not now rather seek peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and trust his grace to aid you to lead them also to eternal life?
But the decision is attended by a cross. Enjoyments are to be given up that you now find it hard to relinquish; and you hope for a convenient season, that will be attended by no such trials. Then I tell you, dear reader, it will never come. The way to heaven lies by the cross. It will always be the same strait and narrow way. You must follow in the footsteps of Christ, deny yourself, and take up your cross, or you cannot be his disciple. The terms of salvation will never be altered. Love for your soul made them what they are, and the same love and desire to save and make you eternally happy will keep them for ever the same. Give up, then, all hope of salvation, or yield to them.
But you plead again that you do not feel enough—you must wait till you are better. If you are sincere in this plea, Satan is deluding you. It is not the degree, but the kind of feeling you have, that God regards in his call to you to repent. You know that God requires repentance and faith, and yet still keep back your heart from God. He demands your heart now. Will you wait till you are better? But if you wait in impenitence, with a heart unwilling to obey God, will this ever make you better, or render it more probable that you will be saved ?
But you have already put it off so long, you cannot hope for mercy. Are you sincere in this plea? What mean you by it? Say not so, for you do not really believe it; if you did, you would be unspeakably wretched, and in hopeless despair. If there is no hope for you now, then no convenient season can ever be yours.
Why then is not now the convenient season You have life and reason ; you are in health; the word of God addresses you ; Jesus our Lord and Saviour invites you ; the Spirit of God urges you ; your conscience tells you that it is your duty. You know not how soon life may close. You know not but God may take from you reason, withhold his gracious Spirit, and the messengers of mercy leave you alone. When, sinner, when will you be more ready? Will you be so on the sick-bed, on the deathbed, racked with pain ; trembling, it may be, in despair, on the verge of the grave ? Are you young? Will manhood, with its cares, the world corroding and hardening the heart, find you more ready? Are you in middle life? Will age, with infirmity, and a long life wasted in rebellion against God, be a better preparation ? Ask those who have lived on thus; be warned by their example, and make sure of the present as your convenient, possibly your only season. Gain thus the longer time to prove your faith to be sincere by the fruits of righteousness. Would you spend your best days in vanity, and give to God only the dregs of a life wasted in neglect and sin ? Will he be satisfied with this, and wait on you? Dare you venture your soul on it? Hear what God says, dear fellow-sinner, and beware bow you longer presume on his forbearance and mercy: “ Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh,” Prov. i. 24-26.
Come, poor sinner, come to Jesus,
Weary, heavy-laden, weak;
Come ye all, his mercy seek.
“Come to me," the Saviour says :
Gloomy doubts, and base delays?
Turn from your own self away;
Come to Christ without delay.