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THE HEART'S MADNESS.
colonel Gardiner, that after his conversion it was reported he was gone mad; and that on one occasion, after being exposed to the raillery of some of his former associates, he challenged them to bring forward anything they could urge to prove that a life of irreligion and sensual pleasure was preferable to a life spent in the love and service of God. Some of them attempted an answer, but the master of the house, a candid, though not a pious man, cut short the debate by saying, “Come, let us call another cause; we thought this man mad, and he is in good earnest proving that we are so.' This in effect will ere long be the confession of all who make light of the great salvation.
Is it madness to neglect the best friends ? yet this is done with respect to One far better than any earthly friends. What would not Goi be to you, and do for you? The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-Jehovah-would bless you with love surpassing knowledge, and with eternal heavenly treasureș. What madness to neglect such a Friend!
Again: see the madness of the heart in men's willing subjection to their greatest enemy. They would not submit to a thief or a murderer, but be enraged at his attempts to rob or destroy them; yet they are not enraged at Satan working in their hearts, that he may rob them of heaven, and destroy them in hell!
The madness of the heart is shown in man's neglect of everlasting blessings for momentary things. Would it be madness if, for the sake of one hour's enjoyment, a man were to give up wealth that he might otherwise keep for a long life, or to incur poverty, want, and misery for the whole of life, at the price of a moment's pleasure? _Alas! there is more fatal madness in losing heaven for earth. This sinful neglect is seen in the ardour with which multitudes pursue trifles that will soon avail them nothing, while they make light of Christ and his salvation. Suppose the case of many criminals shut up in prison, all condemned to die. They have, however, a brief respite, in which pardon may be sought and found. But instead of seeking pardon, or even thinking of its value, one employs his whole time in ornamenting his cell, and calls it his estate.
Another spends all his time in trying to find out the nature of the soil under his prison. A third occupies his whole season of mercy in gazing on the stars through a casement. Day after day passes, till the day of execution comes, and then, too late, they awake to the madness of their course. What better is the course of all, except the few who truly follow Jesus? Whether the object of human pursuit be wealth, or pleasure, or learning, or honour,
oo late will those who have made these things the chief aim of their lives find, that while they squandered on them the day of salvation, madness was in their hearts.
crowd the broad way thut leadeth to destruction. Unpardoned sinners are condemned criminals travelling to the abyss of utter woe. God warns them of this, yet they heed not the warnings of his word. Were you to see a company of men going gaily along some wide high-road, and to inquire of them, "Whither are you going ?” “ To prison.”—“What sort of prison ?” “ All its dungeons are dismal, its torments are dreadful; and those who go in, never come out:" surprise would seize you. Here indeed is madness! Alas! far worse is the madness that fills the heart of multitudes, beyond all counting, who pursue the way that is leading them to the fiery prison, prepared for the devil and his angels.
If anything can make this madness of the heart more awful, it is the dreadful fact that the mischief it causes, once done, can never be undone. The loss of God, and Christ, and eternal life, can never be retrieved. Death, misery, condemnation, and hell, once incurred, can never be escaped.
This madness of the heart is as real in the moral and amiable who neglect salvation, as in the profligate and infidel. Nor will it signify whether a butterfly or a crown be the object pursued, if Christ and his salvation are made light of.
The fact that the heart is full of evil, and desperately wicked, shows how indispensable to happiness is a Divine change within. No outward forms will avail us anything, if there be not a new heart. Of this all the heirs of salvation are made partakers. God promises this, Ezek. xxxvi. 26: "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." The dispositions and principles implanted by God's Holy Spirit, subdue the evil and madness of the heart. Partaking of this change, the penitent believer now loves his best friends, and hates the foes whom once he served. Brought to Christ, and believing in him, he lives a life of faith, sees earth to be only a secondary object, and seeks a home in heaven. And when his time on earth shall have passed, he goes to dwell for ever with the Lord he loved.
Reader! what are you? If you reject these truths, alas! you suffer from a fatal madness, that must be removed, or you must perish. May all the readers receive the renewing of the Holy Ghost, and, being led by the Spirit of God, become “the sons of God," Titus iii. 5, Rom. viii. 14.
Of all the questions that can possibly interest the mind, none have such awful weight as those which relate to eternity. What is eternity? Whose is eternity? What will eternity be to me? Let not these solemn inquiries be unheeded.
What is eternity? Strictly; duration that has no beginning and no end. This is God's eternity. He was before men or angels existed, when he was the only Being in existence : “ Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.- A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night," Psa. xc. 2—4.
As to man, eternity expresses a duration that has a beginning, but that never will end.
Time has an end; eternity has none. Time is growing shorter every hour. At length there will be a last day. Days, years, and ages will roll on no more ; and the last moment of time will finish. But when this world shall long have passed away, no voice in heaven will mournfully exclaim, "Eternity is ending !" no voice in hell will gladly shout, “ Eternity is finished !
Eternity is a duration which nothing can shorten. Heap in imagination ten thousand ages together, multiply their number ten thousand thousand times; and when all are past, is eternity shortened? Oh no—it is eternity still ; as lasting, as joyful or dreadful, as ever.
Employ whatever efforts you can to impress upon your mind some notion of eternity, yet none can reach the awful reality. Think of centuries as numerous as the hours since time began. Will these represent eternity ? Ah no! eternity is longer. Count ages in number as the moments of those centuries : eternity is longer. Add to the vast amount other years as
as the drops of morning dew : still eternity is longer. Think of as many ages more as there are grains of dust
to form the world: eternity is longer. Tell all the drops of | rain and flakes of snow that have fallen from the creation to this
day: eternity is longer. Add to all these as many centuries more as there are drops to fill the ocean, or sands to form its bed : eternity is longer. At the end begin again, and multiply the mighty numbers ten thousand times over: oh, awful thought! eternity is longer! Not only does it exceed all those ages which none but God can comprehend; but all these are less in comparison to eternity than an atom to the world, a drop to the ocean, or the twinkling of an eye to all these
Whose is this eternity? It is God's; and now it is yours. Oh! joyful or terrific thought, indeed it is yours! To God, a thousand years are as one day, and one day as a thousand years; both are so insignificant that one hardly differs from the other. The same assertion will apply to your future existence.
Whose is eternity? All are destined to it: man possesses an immortal spirit, and to the soul death is but a passing from this world to another, from time into eternity.
Many are already living in eternity. There live Adam, and Noah, and the long-lived Patriarchs, who sought a better country. The inhabitants of the old world, who perished in the deluge, and those of Sodom and Gomorrah, are in eternity, wretched spirits in prison. In eternity the pious of many departed ages live and rejoice. Enoch, who went to heaven almost five thousand years ago, has ever since been living in eternity. There, too, are the triflers of past ages ; the rich, the great, the noble; in their day, men of renown; the pleasure-taking, the worldly of every class. The world has long forgotten them, but they are living in eternity. How different are their thoughts about time and eternity, about this world and another, from
Eternity is the portion of all the living. All you see who are so vain, so worldly, so intent on earthly trifles, as well as all the pious, are hastening to eternity. The buildings on which we gaze will crumble into ruin, the world itself on which we dwell will perish, “the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up, and the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,” 2 Pet. iii. 10-12; but we who dwell on this earth shall live for ever. Eternity is mine. I look forward to a not distant hour, when the hand that is now writing shall cease to move, and all the scenes of time shall vanish ; but beyond them is eternity. And you who now read-eternity is yours. You may look forward and imagine yourself leaving this world, and then the sentence will be fulfilled, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return;" but you will then live in eternity.
Still there is another solemn question for every one: "What will eternity be to me?
Here the answer turns on what I whether a child of God, or a follower of the world, and according to my state will be my future lot-a lot without change, for
Eternity to the sons of men will not be like the present life, a variable and chequered scene; but either all brightness or all darkness, all joy or all woe, all holiness or all sin, all the life that fears no death, or all the death that never dies.
To the impenitent and unconverted, eternity will be one long dark night of unmixed woe. Man is so sinful, that unless renewed by the Holy Spirit, and delivered from sin by the death and righteousness of the Saviour, through faith in him, he cannot enter heaven. The Lord Jesus said, “ Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John iii. 5. * He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him," John iii. 36. Most fearful is that wrath! The compassionate Saviour represents the future ruin of the impenitent as dreadful beyond all conception. It is outer darkness, unquenchable fire-a furnace of fire. In hell, “ their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched," Mark ix. 44; and when the wretched victims of sin lift up their eyes, being in torments, tormented in that flame, Luke xvi. 23-26, a great gulf that none can ever pass divides them from hope and happiness.
In the case of the impenitent, their wretchedness will be aggravated by the consciousness of the loss incurred. Hopes, privileges, friendships, comforts, pleasures; all have ended, all are lost! The character borne will increase the wretchedness of every lost soul : “He which is filthy, let him be filthy still," Rev. xxii. 11. Every evil passion and wicked