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joys of life by the gloomy subject of religion. Oh, how
many are persuaded in this manner to turn from the path of uprightness, and to walk in the ways of darkness until their steps take hold on hell!
The hopes of ambition and love of earthly greatness hinder multitudes from submission to the Saviour. All are naturally trying to rise. They cannot be content to be lightly esteemed and neglected for the sake of Christ. They will not forego the distinctions of earth for the approbation of God and the crown of glory which fadeth not away. They barter their souls for the miserable enjoyments of sinful pride, and, at length will lose both in the end. Whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God."
The cavils of unbelievers hold many in doubt and suspense all their lives. They hear so many objections against the truth of the gospel, that they do not decide in its favour; and yet such are the convictions of reason and conscience, that they dare not decide against it. The caviiler is ever busy in pointing out some imaginary flaw in the evidences of Christianity, some fancied absurdity in its truths, or inconsistency in the lives of its professors. His own dark, deluded mind raises fancied difficul. ties where there are none in reality, and seeing everything through a mist, he imagines inconsistency, where alĩ is light, and harmony, and glory, in the view of those who love God. Like the serpent, the caviller strikes ere he is perceived in his true character, and the deadly poison is spreading through the unsuspecting soul, and sinking its victim in eternal ruin, before he is aware of his danger. Thousands are thus prevented from escaping for their life, and embracing the offers of mercy.
Others are hindered by the ridicule of the openly vicious. Ridicule is a weapon often hurled at the young and unguarded. Oh, what numbers are now lifting up their eyes in torment and wailing in hopeless despair, who, under the guidance of an evil heart, were brought to that world of woe by a banter or profane jest which they had not the moral courage to withstand, nor the wisdom to despise ! Reader, remember that ridicule is not argument; it proves nothing; it stabs in the dark. Shun him who would turn the realities of eternity into a jest, as you value your soul : “ As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am I not in sport ?" Prov. xxvi. 18.
Others are hindered from submitting to Christ by the cares and pleasures of the world. Probably more souls are lost by yielding to the pressure of business, and the calls of vain pleasure and fashionable amusement, than by all other causes. Men of business, take heed lest under the plea of being diligent in
inon of unrighteousness," and thus God be shut out, and that soul be lost. And ye followers of sinful pleasure, hear the declarations of God's word respecting such as you: "Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;" “ Deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures ;" and, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth,” 2 Tim. iii. 4, Titus iii. 3, 1 Tim. v. 6.
How then are we to overcome these and all other hindrances to embracing Christ, and securing our salvation ? Say to them unhesitatingly, “ Hinder me not.
God commands your immediate repentance and submission to Christ. He says to you as to Lot, " Éscape for thy life."-"Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions ; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”—“ God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”—“Submit yourselves therefore to God.” In this urgent and forcible manner the Lord of heaven and earth commands
you to turn immediately to him. He who has made you, and given his Son to die for you, who claims your obedience by the most tender and overpowering obligations, bids you forsake your
sins and embrace the Saviour. Think of the numerous mercies and favours which God has bestowed upon you, ye who are impenitent. How constantly has he preserved your lives from destruction ! With what powers of mind has he endowed you, with which to love and serve him! What rich means of grace has he conferred upon you ! How has he opened the way for you to come to him for salvation through the blood of his Son! And how has he followed you with the pleadings of his Spirit, and of his word, saying to every sinner, as he said by the prophet to Israel,
Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel ? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye,” Ezek. xviii. 30–32. Oh, how inexcusable, how criminal will you be, if you do not immediately act up to this invitation, and resolve in the strength of the Lord,
“ Through duty and through trials too,
I'll go at his command ;
To' Immanuel's blessed land."
Consider the alarming providences of God. A once blooming young woman, of high hopes, who had often joined in worldly scenes of dissipation, but who at last felt the chilling hand of death upon her, said, “Oh, what shall I do? I am not prepared to die. "Oh! I have been such a sinner, there is no mercy for me.
obtain religion, to secure an interest in Christ; but I cannot attend to that now." These were her last words. In a few minutes she expired. Sinner, hasten your return to God, if you would not be arrested in a similar manner, and die without hope.
You have a great work to do. In matters of earthly business men exert themselves according to the greatness of the work they have in hand. Thus the long distance of Abraham's servant from home made him the more anxious to begin his return immediately. You have a great work in hand; you are far from God, and far from that home which is eternal in the heavens. Begin, then, your return immediately, lest it soon be for ever too late to do so. Seek the Lord Jesus Christ, believe in him, and begin a new life of loving obedience. This great work cannot be safely put off for any time. If you grieve the Holy Spirit, and he leave you to your native blindness and obstinacy, you will never see the face of God as the God of grace. Fear will soon come upon you as desolation, and destruction as a whirlwind.
Let the difficulties of the way excite you to break through all hindrances at once.
Difficulties are a reason for earnest effort, and at once, and not for sloth and delay. So, Abraham's servant, who knew the perils of the journey, would not increase them by negligence. Fellow traveller to eternity, dangers lurk in your path. The snares of the adversary are spread beneath your feet; the world without, and evil propensities within, like so many enemies, lie in wait to destroy your soul. These difficulties are already formidable, and by delay will soon become insurmountable. Hasten to the Lamb of God without delay, or you will never enter the mansions of the blessed in glory.
You are intrusted with immortal interests, with the care of the undying spirit. If saved, who can number its joys, while the vast periods of eternity are passing on? if lost, who can count the billows of wrath which shall roll over it in that lake which burns with unquenchable fire ? Reader, will you not instantly throw yourself on the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, receiving and believing the promise of God in him? You defer at your peril. You put to hazard your soul and your eternal interests, of more value than worlds and the universe. May the Holy Spirit lead you to come at once to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood cleanseth from all sin !
The present moment flies,
And bears our life away ;
That they may live to-day.
Oh, be it still pursued!
Should never be renew'd!
When pestilence is raging, who would be blamed for bidding the infected seek a speedy cure? There is a worse pestilence than cholera or the plague, and every human being suffers from the contagion. It is the plague of sin. This kills not the body only, but the soul, and with a death whose pangs will last for ever. Men, blinded by unbelief or self-righteousness, are often not aware that they are dying of this infection, till recovery is hopeless. This ignorance is as sinful as it is fatal, for the great God bears testimony to the fearful fact, that by nature all are perishing of this plague: "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth," Gen. viii. 21. "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live," Eccles. ix. 3. 6. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jer. xvii. 9.
Thus, the heart of every man is by nature only evil. Pride leads men to form false views of themselves, and to indulge self-flattery. The love of sinful pleasure is fostered by the deceitfulness of the heart : vices are excused, and holiness despised. The enmity of the heart to God excuses false reasonings against his perfections, his word, his judgments, and the doctrines he reveals; and it is awfully apparent in the indifference that is shown respecting his favour or displeasure. That the heart is full of evil, is a dreadful fact confirmed by innumerable proofs.
The aboundings of sin confirm the fact. Could all the sins that are committed in twenty-four hours, in any town or city, all the oaths and profaneness, the lewdness, and gluttony, and drunkenness, the dishonesty and cheating tricks, the passion, and malice, and envy, the revenge and hatred, the pride and selfimportance, be made visible in one view, what a hideous mass of wickedness would be seen! yet all this proceeds from the evil of the heart. He who searches the heart, declares, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blaspl'emy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and defile the man," Mark vii. 21–23.
All run not to the extreme of wickedness. Checks, of various kinds, prevent the full display of the evil of the heart; yet, unless changed through Divine grace, every heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and there are no lengths of wickedness to which, if left to themselves, any might not go. It is related of the excellent John Bradford, that when he saw a criminal going to execution, he would say, There
goes John Bradford, but for the grace of God.” No servant of sin knows to what excess in wickedness he might proceed. When Hazael was told by the prophet what crimes he would commit, he said, “ What, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing ?” 2 Kings viii. 13. Yet soon he committed all those crimes.
This wickedness is most completely displayed in direct enmity to God: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Volney said this; but in a storm on an American lake, recanted and cried out, “O my God, my God, what shall I do?" “Well, Mr. Volney,” said a passenger, "you have a God now." “Oh yes, oh yes!” replied the trembling atheist; but when he safely reached land, he showed again the enmity of his heart to God by denying his existence. And this enmity to God is shown, not merely by atheists, but by pretended philosophers, who “often produce specious and fatal instruments of destruction by framing impious and infidel systems. These gratify the curiosity, pride, and presumption of man, suit his carnal mind, and silence his conscience. On this poison numbers feed and perish."