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strangely overlooked, that I have hardly ever seriously asked my own heart what it is.—I know, if matters rest here, I perish; yet I feel, in my perverse nature, a secret indisposition to pursue these thoughts : a proneness, if not entirely to dismiss them, yet to lay them aside for the present. My mind is perplexed and divided ; but I am sure, thou, who madest me, knowest what is best for me. I therefore beseech thee that thou wilt, "for thy Name's sake, lead me and guide me.' Psal. xxxi. 3. Let me not delay till it is for ever too late. “Pluck me as a brand out of the burning.' Amos, iv. 11. O break this fatal enchantment that holds down my affection to objects which my judgement comparatively despises ! and let me, at length, come into so happy a state of mind, that I may not be afraid to think of thee and of myself, and may not be tempted to wish that thou hadst not made me, or that thou couldst for ever forget me; that it may
best hope, to perish like the brutes.
“ If what I shall farther read here be agreeable to truth and reason, if it be calculated to promote my happiness, and is to be regarded as an intimation of thy will and pleasure to me, O God, let me hear and obey! Let the words of thy servant, when pleading thy cause, be like goads to pierce into my mind ! and let me rather feel, and smart, than die! Let them be “as nails fastened in a sure place;' (Eccl. xii. 4.) that, whatever mysteries as yet unknown, or whatever difficulties there be in religion, if it be necessary, I may not finally neglect it; and that, if it be expedient to attend immediately to it, I may no longer delay that attendance! And oh ! let thy grace teach me the lesson I am so slow to learn, and conquer that strong opposition which I feel in my heart against the very thought of it! Hear these broken cries, for the sake of thy Son, who has taught and saved many a creature as untractable as I, and can out of stones, raise up children unto Abraham !! " Matt. iii. 9. Amen.
THE AWAKENED SINNER URGED TO IMMEDIATE CONSIDERA
TION, AND CAUTIONED AGAINST DELAY. 1. Sinners, when awakened, inclined to dismiss convictions for the
present.—2. An immediate regard to religion urged.—3. From the excellence and pleasure of the thing itself.–4. From the uncer, tainty of that future time on which sinners presume, compared with the sad consequences of being cut off in sin.–5. From the immutability of God's present demands.—6. From the tendency which delay has to make a compliance with these demands more difficult than it is at present.--7. From the danger of God's withdrawing his Spirit, compared with the dreadful case of a sinner given up by it.—8. Which probably is now the case of many.9. Since, therefore, on the whole, whatever the event be, delays may prove matter of lamentation.—10. The chapter concludes with an exhortation against yielding to them, and a prayer against temptations of that kind.
1. I HOPE my last address so far awakened the convictions of my reader, as to bring him to this purpose, “that some time or other he would attend to religious considerations.” But give me leave to ask, earnestly and pointedly, When shall that be? “Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will call for thee,” (Acts, xxiv. 25.) was the language and ruin of unhappy Felix, when he trembled under the reasonings and expostulations of the apostle. The tempter presumed not to urge that he should give up all thoughts of repentance and reformation ; but only that, considering the present hurry of his affairs, (as no doubt they were many,) he should defer it to another day. The artifice succeeded, and Felix was undone.
2. Will you, reader, dismiss me thus ? For your own sake, and out of tender compassion to your perishing, immortal soul, I would not willingly take up with such a dismission and excuse. No, not though you shall fix a time; though you shall determine on the next year, or month, or week or day. I would turn upon you, with all he eagerness and tenderness of friendly importunity, and entreat you to bring the matter to an issue even now. For “ I will think on these things to-morrow,
"I shall have little bope; and shall conclude, that all that I
if you say,
have hitherto urged, and all that you have read, has been offered and viewed in vain.
3. When I invite you to the care and practice of religion, it may seem strange that it should be necessary for me affectionately to plead the cause with you, in order to your immediate regard and compliance. What I am inviting you to is so noble and excellent in itself, so well worthy of the dignity of our rational nature, so suitable to it, so manly, and so wise, that one would imagine you should take fire, as it were, at the first hearing of it; yea, that so delightful a view should presently possess your whole soul with a kind of indignation against yourself, that you pursued it no sooner.- -“ May I lift up my eyes
and my soul to God! May I devote myself to him! May I even now commence a friendship with him : a friendship, which shall last for ever, the security, the delight, the glory of this immortal nature of mine! And shall I draw back and say, Nevertheless, let me not commence this friendship too soon : let me live at least a few weeks or a few days longer without God in the world.” Surely it would be much more reasonable to turn inward, and say, “O my soul, on what vile husks hast thou been feeding, while thy Heavenly Father has been forsaken and injured ? Shall I desire to multiply the days of my poverty, my scandal, and my misery?" On this principle, surely an immediate return to God should in all reason be chosen, rather than to play the fool any longer, and go on a little more to displease God, and thereby starve and wound your own soul ! even though your continuance in life were ever so certain, and your capacity to return to God and your duty ever so entirely in your own power, now, and in
future moment, through scores of
years yet to come.
should lay your account for years, or for months to come ?
66 What is your life? Is it not even as a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away ?" James, iv. 14. And what is your security, or what is your peculiar warrant, that you should thus depend upon the certainty of its continuance? and that so absolutely as to venture, as
it were, to pawn your soul upon it? Why, you will perhaps say, “I am young, and in all my bloom and vigour; I see hundreds about me who are more than double
ту age, and not a few of them who seem to think it too soon to attend to religion yet.”
You view the living, and you talk thus. But I beseech you, think of the dead. Return, in your thoughts, to those graves in which you have left some of your young companions and your friends. You saw them a while ago gay and active, warm with life, and hopes, and schemes. And some of them would have thought a friend strangely importunate, that should have interrupted them in their business, and their pleasures, with a solemn lecture on death and eternity. Yet they were then on the very borders of both. You have since seen their corpses, or at least their coffins, and probably carried about with you the badges of mourning which you received at their funerals. Those once vigorous, and perhaps beautiful bodies of theirs, now lie mouldering in the dust, as senseless and helpless as the most decrepid pieces of human nature which fourscore years ever brought down to it. And, what is infinitely more to be regarded, their souls, whether prepared for this great change, or thoughtless of it, have made their appearance before God, and are at this moment fixed, either in heaven or in hell. Now let me seriously ask you, would it be miraculous, or would it be strange, if such an event should befall you? How are you sure that some fatal disease will not this day begin to work in your veins? How
shall ever be capable of reading or thinking any more, if you do not attend to what you now read, and pursue the thought which is now offering itself
mind? This sudden alteration may at least possibly happen; and if it does, it will be to you a terrible one indeed. To be thus surprised into the presence of a forgotten God; to be torn away, at once, from a world to which
whole heart and soul has been rivetted : a world which has engrossed all your thoughts and cares, all your desires and pursuits; and be fixed in a state which you never could be so far persuaded to think of, as
to spend so much as one hour in serious preparation for it : how must, you even shudder at the apprehension of it, and with what horror must it fill you ? It seems matter of wonder, that in such circumstances you are not almost distracted with the thoughts of the uncertainty of life, and are not even ready to die for fear of death. To trifle with God any longer, after so solemn an admonition as this, would be a circumstance of additional provocation, which, after all the rest, might be fatal; nor is there any thing you can expect in such a case, but that he should cut you off immediately, and teach other thoughtless creatures, by your ruin, what a hazardous experiment they make when they act as you are acting.
5. And will you, after all, run this desperate risk? For what imaginable purpose can you do it? Do you think the business of religion will become less necessary, or more easy, by your delay? You know that it will not. You know that, whatever the blessed God demands now, he will also demand twenty or thirty years hence, if you should live to see the time.' God has fixed his method, in which he will pardon and accept sinners in his Gospel. And will he ever alter that method ? Or if he will not, can men alter it? You like not to think of repenting, and humbling yourself before God, to receive righteousness and life from his free grace in Christ; and you, above all, dislike the thought of returning to God in the ways of holy obedience. But will he ever dispense with any of these, and publish a new Gospel, with promises of life and salvation to impenitent, unbelieving sinners, if they will but call themselves Christians, and submit to a few external rites? How long do you think you might wait for such a change in the constitution of things ? You know death will come upon you, and you cannot but know, in your own conscience, that a general dissolution will come upon the world long before God can thus deny himself, and contradict all his perfections and all his declarations.
.6. Or if his demands continue the same, as they assuredly will, do you think any thing which is now disagreeable to you in them, will be less disagreeable here