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converted on a death-bed, we scarcely find one who is really changed ? That for one degree of proba. bility of the reality of his conversion, we have a thousand which prove it to be extorted ? And to speak without evasion, we presume, that in one hour he will be taken from his dying bed, and cast into the torments of hell? We should....we should apply this last remedy, and no longer trifle with a soul whose destruction is almost inevitable. But you forbid us, you prevent us; you say that such severe language would injure the health of the sick. You do more ; you.weep, you lament. At a scene so pathetic, we soften as other men: we have not resolution to add one affliction to another ; and whether from compassion to the dying or pity to the living, we talk of heaven, and afford the man hopes of salvation. But we say again, we still declare, that all these promises ought to be suspected ; they can change neither the spirit of religion, nor the nature of man. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord, Heb. xii. 14. And those tears which you shed on the approach of death, that extorted submission to the will of God, those hasty resolu. tions of obedience, are not that holiness. In vain should we address you in other language. You would indeed hear on your dying bed an irreproachable witness always ready to contradict us.
That witness is conscience. In vain does the degenerate minister endeavour to afford the dying illusive hope, conscience speaks without disguise. The preacher says, Peace, peace, Jer. vi. 14 : Conscience replies, There is no peace to the wicked, saith my God, Isaiah lv. 21. The preacher says, Lift up your heads, O) ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, Psa. xxiv. 7. Conscience cries, Mountains, mountains, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of. the Lamb, Rev. vi. 16.
But, O gracious God, what are we doing in this pulpit? Are we come to trouble Israel? Are we sent to curse ? Do we preach to day only of hell, only of devils ? Ah ! my brethren, there is no attaining sal. vation but in the way which we have prescribed : it is true, that to the present hour you have neglected : it is true, that the day of vengeance succeeds the day of wrath. But the day of vengeance is not yet
You yet live, you yet breathe ; grace is yet offered. I hear the voice of my Saviour saying, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, speak ye comfort. ably to Jerusalem. Isa. xl. i. "I hear the delightful accents crying upon this Church, Grace, grace unto it. Zech. iv. 7. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboiim ? Mine heart is turned within me, my relentings are kindied together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger : I will not return to destroy Ephraim. Hos. xi. 8, 9. It speaks peculiarly to you young people, whose minds are yet free from passion and prejudice, whose chaste hearts have not yet been corrupted by the world. You are now precisely at the age for salvation ; you have all the necessary dispositions for the study of religious truths, and the subjugation of your hearts to its laws. What
penetration, what perception, what vivacity, and conse, quently what preparation for receiving the yoke of Christ. Cherish those dispositions, and improve each moment of a period so precious. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Eccles. xii. 1. Alas, with all your acuteness you will have enough to do in surmounting the wicked propensities of your
heart. And would not the force of habit exceedingly augment the depravity of nature, should you continue in vice ?
And you aged men, who have already run your course, but who have devoted the best of your days to the world : you who seek the Lord to-day, groping your way, and who are making faint efforts in age to withdraw from the world, a heart of which it has possession : what shall we say to you? Shall we say that your ruin is without remedy, that your sen. : tence is already pronounced, that nothing now remains but to cast you headlong into the abyss you have willingly prepared for yourselves ? God forbid that we should thus become the executioners of di. vine vengeance.
We address you in the voice of our prophet. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found. Weep at the remembrance of your past lives, tremble at the thought, that God sends strong delusions on those that obey not the truth. Oh! happy docility of my youth, whither art thou fled ? Ah! soul more burthened with corruption than with the weight of years; Ah! stupidity, prejudice, fatal dominion of sin, you are the fatal recompence I have derived from serving the enemy of my salvation.
But, while you fear, hope : and hoping, act: at least, o ! at least devote the span of life, which God may add, to your salvation.
You have abundantly more to do than others; your task is greater, and your time is shorter. You have according to the prophet, to turn your feet unto the testimonies of the Lord. Psalm cxix. 59. You have to swim against the stream, to enter in at the straight gate. Above all....above all offer up fervent prayers to God. Perhaps, moved by your tears, he will revoke the sentence; perhaps, excited to compassion by your misery, he will heal it by his grace; perhaps, surmounting by the supernatural operations of the Spi. rit the depravity of nature, he will give you thoughts so divine, and sentiments so tender, that you
shall suddenly be transformed into new men.
To the utmost of our power, let us reform. There is yet time, but that time is perhaps more limited than we think. After all, why delay? Ah! I well see what obstructs. You regard conversion as a tedi. qus task, and the state of regeneration, difficult and
burdensome, which must be entered into as late as possible. But if you knew....if you knew the gift of God! If you knew the sweetness felt by a man who seeks God in his ordinances, who hears his oracles, who derives light and truth from their source. If you knew the joy of a man transformed into the image of his Maker, and who daily engraves on his heart some new trait of the all-perfect being. If you knew the consolation of a christian, who seeks his God in prayer, who mingles his voice with the voice of angels, and begins on earth the sacred exercises which shall one day constitute his eternal felicity! If you knew the joys which succeed the bit.. terness of repentance, when the sinner, returning from his folly, prostrates himself at the feet of a merciful God, and receives at the throne of grace, from the Saviour of the world, the discharge of all their sins, and mingling tears of joy with tears of grief, repairs by redoubled affection his lukewarmness and indos lence. If you knew the raptures of a soul persuaded of its salvation, which places all its hope within the veil, as an anchor sure and steadfast, which bids dę fiance to hell and the devil, which anticipates the ce. lestial delights, which is already justified, already risen, already glorified, already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Heb. vi. 19. Eph. ii. 6.
Ah! why should we defer so glorious a task? We ought to defer things which are painful and inju- . rious, and when we cannot extricate ourselves from a great calamity, we ought at least to retard it as much as possible. But this peace, this tranquillity, these transports, this resurrection, this foretaste of paradise, are they to be arranged in this class ? Ah, no! I will no longer delay, O my God, to keep thy commandments. I will reach forth, I will press towards the mark of the prize of the high calling. Phil. ii. 10. Happy to have formed such noble resolu: tions ! Happy to accomplish them! Amen. To God, the Father, Son and Spirit, be honour and glo. ty for ever. Amen.
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him
while he is near.
[THE SUBJECT CONTINUED.]
It is now some time my brethren, if you recollect, since we addressed you on this subject. We proposed to be less scrupulous in discussing the terms than desirous to attack the delay of conversion, and absurd notions of divine mercy. We then apprized you, that we should draw our reflections from three sources....from man....from scripture....and from ex. perience. We began by the first of these points; to-day we intend to discuss the second : and if Providence call us again into this pulpit, we will explain the third, and give the finishing hand to the subject,
If you were attentive to what we proposed in our first discourse, if the love of salvation drew you to these assemblies, you would derive instruction.
You would sensibly perceive the vain prétentions of those who would indeed labour to obtain salva tion, but they always delay.