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OR, THE DANGERS OF DELAY.
may remain, to the end of life, in health and vigour. But though exempted from calamities, (and yet who can ensure you that exemption ?) other causes may effectually rob you of hopeful opportunity. Overwhelming business may absorb you. Anxious cares may oppress you. Severe trials may so agitate, as to unfit you for the duty. The lasting infirmities of old age may becloud and impair your spirit. In any and all of these or like cases, though life be prolonged, the opportunity of repentance and saving faith may be gone. And if you are now free from them all, will you venture to delay? “ Now!" sinner, “ Now !”
Now, — because God commands it. He gives you life, lengthens your days, preserves your health, protects your peace, and prescribes your duty. He is your real Friend. He desires and delights to save sinners. He has devised and revealed the way of your redemption, and now waits to be gracious. He beseeches you to be reconciled to him; and, knowing your infirmity and your danger, his providence and his grace combine to give you the present opportunity. And he commands you to improve it. Mark! it is God that speaks!“ Come now, and let us reason together saith the Lord.” “Behold, now is the accepted time."
Now,—for delay is new transgression. You have but one moment given you at a time, and the duty of that moment is to repent of sin, and seek peace with God through Jesus Christ. As it glides swiftly by, it warns you to reflect, decide, repent, believe, and fly for refuge to the Saviour of sinners. Do this, and all will be well. Neglect it, on whatever pretext, and you add another sin to your awful account, and make the present moment a swift witness against you before the bar of God.
Now,- for it will be easier now than at any future time. Many as your sins are, they are fewer now than they will be tomorrow. Hard as your heart is, it grows harder day by day. Strong as the influence of the world is, it grows stronger and stronger. Habits acquire force by indulgence, and the habit of procrastination most of all. You must some day or other resist and overcome the world and sin, if you ever turn to God at all. The effort will never be so easy again as at this moment. “ Now is the accepted time.”
Now,- because past delays have only deceived and endangered you. Perhaps you intend at some time to seek God. So far well. But possibly you can recal a season, many years ago, when you entertained that intention as firmly as you do now. If it had been tben foretold that you would live till now unconverted and unchanged, would you have believed it? Have not similar seasons occurred in the interval, in which you have renewed your seemingly firm intention, and hoped and believed that long ere this it would be carried into effect? Yet, in spite of all, the work is still undone. Had death overtaken you in the interval, as it might have done, what would have been your condition? And will you again expose yourself to danger so awful, again venture all your eternal hopes upon resolutions by which you have been so often and so plainly betrayed ? Let your own experience be your warning. Be wise, and wise at once.
Now,- for you have much to encourage you. You are now, perhaps, attentive, convinced, impressed, reflective, serious; your heart may be less hard, your spirit less worldly, your disposition less hostile to eternal things, than it sometimes is. Whatever may have induced feelings like these, they come from God. They give hope that your day of grace and mercy is not yet past. Jesus is the Intercessor for every penitent and contrite sinner. Oh, harden .not your heart! Value and improve the precious opportunity. Cherish and obey the heavenly influence. Unite your prayers to those of your merciful High Priest. Everything combines to encourage hope and assure success. Yield your heart to him in faith and love, and you are saved.
Now,--for perhaps upon this moment the great question of life or death, heaven or hell, may absolutely turn. In every man's history there is a moment, unknown perhaps to any but God, when a choice is made, a decision taken, which gives complexion to his whole future existence; a crisis, the influence of which tells upon all time, extends through all eternity. If that moment were to you consciously the present, how would you decide ? If you are not certain (and you cannot be so that it is otherwise, adopt that decision now. Believe now, and be saved.
Friend, that to which you are urged is, at once to flee from the wrath to come. Satan would have you delay, for he would thus accomplish your ruin. Your own heart inclines to delay, for by nature it loves its guilty pleasures, and shuns the cross. But God has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live,' Ezek. xxxii, 11. Christ would have you decide, for he would lead you to glory. The Spirit would have you decide, that he may draw your heart to holiness and to heaven. Reason, Scripture, conscience, all echo the Divine admonition, “ Now is the accepted time." Choose then your adviser and your friend. Will you listen to the world, or to conscience; to Satan, or to God? Will you learn saving wisdom at the feet of Jesus, or be the dupe of the Evil One's delusions? If your heart, indeed, incline to the path of peace, then act at once. Lose not a moment! Take at least one step! Implore the Spirit's aid, ere you cease to read; believe, trust, pray; and rest assured that before you call, God will answer; and while you are yet speaking, he will hear.
the Ecarn saprId, or your headm.
CHRIST, THE SAVIOUR OF THE LOST. READER, you have doubtless often heard of Christ. You may have also often heard that he said, “ The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke xix. 10. But as you listened to that great truth, what did you think of it, and how did you act ? Did you at once exclaim, “I am the man who needs that Saviour; Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief?” Or, did you carelessly think within yourself, “ Ah, well, then, I suppose if Christ died for sinners, I shall be saved by-and-by?” Was this the spirit in which you received the news, which of all other news most concerns the interests of your soul—those interests which have to do with your well-being not only in this life, bụt much more with your well-being throughout eternity? Can it be possible that you treated such a solemn truth, we do not say with levity, but with so little concern? Were it not for the daily proofs we have of the indifference of mankind, we should at once say that no one could hear of the great love of Christ towards a guilty world, without giving up all
other hope but that which rests in him, and in the spirit of repentance and faith, exclaiming with the dying thief, - Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” Luke xxiii. 42.
But did it never occur to you that before you can be saved through Christ, you must feel that you need to be saved ? We know that Christ died for the ungodly; yet if ungodly men turn away, and by so doing say, “ But we have no desire to be saved,”
—what then? Will the fact that Christ died be of any use to them? How can it be? And, continuing thus, they will go into eternity without salvation, although a Saviour shed his blood for a guilty world ; they will miss salvation and heaven, because they did not feel their want of Christ, but stayed away from hiin, acting like some of old, to whom the Saviour himself said, “ Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life,” John v. 40.
If we were to attempt to describe such characters, we might corrpare them to a man who had fallen into a stream leading to a deep and rushing cataract. At first the water runs gently onward, and gives but few signs of the awful depth towards which it is gradually but certainly hastening. He may seize on some floating log to hold him up, and be confident that he can reach the shore, in spite of the fall. But a kind friend on the shore thinks very differently. He fears the worst, and throws out a rope to the swimmer, urging him to lay fast hold of it, that he may drag him out. “Let me alone, I am safe enough,” cries the man. " Take care, take care," cries the friend. “ All right, no fear!” again replies the reckless swimmer. Already has the stream carried him on. He has not felt it,—but he goes on, and on, and on; while the cries of his friend, as he runs along the shore to keep pace with the strengthening stream, are heard louder and more terrific. The swimmer says, “I will try a little longer, and then if I fail I will snatch the rope.” “ Lay hold ! lay hold !” “One more trial, and then I will.” He tries, -and fails. Now he turns for the rope, but he cannot reach it. The stream is swifter. He is borne into the middle of it, and he is swept on with a force that nothing can stem. He is in despair. The falls are near. He hears their roar. The friend stands on the bank with his hands stretched out in speechless sorrow, but without power to help, and without hope: the wretched man is hurried down the fearful fall, and is lost! Of what use was the rope to this man, when he would not lay hold of it?
Numerous examples may be found in the histories of men to bear out this illustration. For instance; a young man, who had been carefully instructed in the knowledge of the gospel of
CHRIST, THE SAVIOUR OF THE LOST.
left the parental home, and went into the world to pursue his business, and to seek a fortune. But while diligent and industrious in business, he despised the apostolic precept, to be “ fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” He put away thoughts of religion. He neglected the house of God, his Bible, and prayer. Association with evil companions completed the work of forgetfulness of God, and he was soon notorious as one of the gayest among the gay. He avowed what are called infidel opinions, and affected to overthrow by argument the doctrines of God's word. He lifted his voice against them at debating societies; and if any rebuked him for having gone too far, he only smiled to find himself famed among the champions of free-thinking. But he was cast down by affliction,--and his sickness was “ unto death!”
Now, his infidelity proved a broken reed. His companions never came near to comfort him with the hope that there is no hereafter. They forsook him, and left him to the tender mercies of his accusing conscience, whose stings were fearful. But while conscience threatened, there was no sense of mercy to ease the tortures of his soul. No one could tell him more than he himself knew of the revelation of Christ. The prayers of his mother, long gone to her reward, came back upon him like a dream. What he had heard in days and years gone by he well remembered. What more could he know, or want to know? Alas! he had knowledge, but not faith and love. He knew, too, that he had despised the Saviour when he ought to have listened to His tender words of love. He had spurned the Spirit of God, when he ought to have opened his heart to receive him. And now—now in his anguish, now in the end of his course—he saw not that Saviour nigh: but afar off. He died, crying, “ I am lost!” Reader! it is not for us to lift the veil of futurity, or to judge; but these are the facts. Weigh them for yourself. Think of them, and ask, “ What did it signify to this man that Christ had died, if he would not accept that Saviour ?" Alas! it would only increase his condemnation.
But, blessed be God! by his grace the “rope” is not always refused; the Saviour is not always rejected. A minister of the gospel was one day sent for to visit a young woman, who was supposed to be near death. He found her very ill, but able to converse without difficulty. Anxious to discover what hope she might have of eternal life, he began to inquire into her history, and then led the conversation to religion, and to her views on this subject. The result was that she considered herself moral, not worse than her neighbours; and she concluded by saying, “ I believe God will accept me."
“Did you never hear of Christ ?” said the visitor. “Yes, I have heard of him.”