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flinch, or betray their Heavenly Master whenever any remarkable difficulty or cross interrupts their ease, or threatens their interest or their reputation, their rank and comforts and prospects in life.
These observations and distinctions, my brethren, are all of a practical nature, and deeply concern every one of us who live in a Christian country. First, They concern the few who have real and fair pretensions to call themselves disciples and followers of Christ, because they contain serious advice and caution: they concern the profane and unbelieving, because they are replete with awful admonitions and rebuke: and they concern the vast multitude of undetermined, unsettled, doubtful, halting, nominal professors of Christianity, for whose case they are more especially intended, because these are hereby exhorted, in the most friendly and compassionate terms, yet mixed with the most serious and solemn warnings, not to trifle any longer with the patience and forbearance of Almighty God,—that patience, which ought to bave led them to repentance long ago. It behoves me to say to them : Your present condition is dangerous in the highest degree. You know not how near may be the conclusion of your day of grace.
Repent" to-day, while it is called to-day;":"the night cometh, when no man can work.” Whoever is right, and whoever.wrong, your state of ease, of indifference, of trifling in the great concern of the one thing needful, is most dangerous, because it is most unfavourable to conversion of heart, because it is ungrateful to your Redeemer, and provoking to his Holy Spirit. Cease to make any longer comparisons (to your own advantage) with any set of men, within the church, without the church, or in any situation that can be mentioned.
It will be hard to prove any of the human species in a more alarming condition than you are : you have made no use of your talent. Does not the sentence of your Lord tingle in
your ears; the sentence of being “ bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth?”
Yet one word more is not to be omitted, because it is of the last importance: To attempt, in your own strength, to amend your condition and set all things right, will never succeed. Blessed be the Gospel of Christ, which provides an effectual remedy, in every condition, precisely suited to the emergency! Believe in that Gospel as a covenant,
and as containing and providing the very remedy which you need ; apply the remedy with vigour; cease to be indifferent; cease to halt between God and the world. Believe in the Gospel : your belief hitherto has been the dead faith of which St. James speaks. Pray for that " lively faith,” the nature of which St. Paul has explained at so great length, and which, he tells us, overcomes the world.” It can remove mountains; it can do more,—it can soften a hard and impenitent heart. “ The secret of the Lord” is said by the Psalmist « to be with them that fear him." This is that secret. It consists in a deep contrition of soul for actual sin that is past, and for the corrupt, depraved state of the heart at the present: it consists in an earnest desire to lead a new life, to have a stedfast faith in the Redeemer's merits for pardon, peace of conscience, and new principles, which shall work by love, shall be fruitful in all manner of good works here, and terminate in everlasting happiness hereafter. It will be our own fault if we neglect so great a salvation: all things are ready. The condescension of our Lord Jesus Christ is so great in inviting poor sinners to his rich feast of merciful blessings, that the truly humble heart can scarcely give credit to so much
love and compassion : nevertheless, do but listen and comply with these astonishing offers of reconciliation, and you will find the goodness of God even far beyond what you can now ask or think. Believe him, and become his faithful soldiers and şervants unto your life's end, and he will forget and forgive all your repeated provocations ; he will blot out all your iniquities. But to delay a day, or even an hour, is the most dangerous thing imaginable. During the pernicious interval you may be in eternity, and may have begun a dreadful scene of misery never to end! And if not; suppose God gives you a few days longer; what reason can the most acute of you devise, why ye should be more likely to repent to-morrow than to-day? I could give many reasons why you will probably be less so; why a continuance in sin and alienation from God should harden the heart. “To-day,” therefore, while it is called "to-day,” bend the stubborn knees in penitential and fervent supplication for the grace of God to turn your hearts to righteousness and newness of life. Instantly be honest to your convictions: God may withdraw his kind Spirit from you, and then, indeed, “the night will be come when no man can work !”
2 COR. xiii. 5. Eramine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.
THERE are two mistakes which persons who live in a country where Christianity is professed are very apt to make : first, they think they perfectly understand the nature of the Gospel-at least so far as essentials are concerned ;-and, secondly, they believe without much difficulty, that they obey the commands of Christ sufficiently to ensure their eternal salvation. On the first head they have usually not the slightest hesitation : “ Christ came to save sinners: without Christ, salvation was difficult, if not impossible; so ignorant, so infirm, so ill-disposed was man: with Christ, salvation is easy and probable; be teaches, he assists, and strengthens us. to do the best we can, and Christ will supply all