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THE HIDDEN TREASURE.
changed, for which the gospel provides, praise, once a burden, becomes a source of the greatest delight; prayer becomes the joyful expression of the heart's gratitude, and obedience to the will of God the end and aim of existence.
“But religion may affect my worldly interests.” Ah! men are sharp-sighted here ! But are they not short-sighted also ? for did you ever know any one really suffer in following out the dictates of conscience and truth? Or is not the apostolic experience the rule—that if possessions, houses, lands be all resigned, still " godliness with contentment is great gain," 1 Tim. vi. 6. From these circumstances, then, the value of religion is concealed from men-it is “ treasure hid in a field.”
Reader, are you anxious to discover this treasure, to know its value, and enjoy its untold blessings? It has been seen, prized, and enjoyed by many. Search for it in God's word. There Christ is set forth as “altogether lovely." There, in the experience of the saints in their cheerful endurance of trial-you will witness its fruits. “ Search the Scriptures," John v. 39. “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read," Isa, xxxiv. 16. Have you no time? Oh, think again how much you now waste ! How ill-improved all will be found if the whole world be gained, and the soul lost! Matt. xvi. 26. Look for this hidden treasure also in the faithful preaching of the gospel. This is God's appointed "witness." « Faith cometh by hearing." heed what ye hear, and how ye hear." Compare the doctrines declared with those of the Scriptures. Look patiently, diligently, and closely. The mists will clear away, and in God's light you shall at length see light. But it is necessary to our successful search, that we look in a right spirit, as well as in a right place. Haste and carelessness are frequent causes of disappointment. To this search approach under a deep sense of your own darkness and weakness, and of the necessity of Divine teaching and influence for understanding and cordially receiving the truth. As the light of God's Spirit is promised, be anxious and earnest in prayer for this gift. As the light of God's truth is given, cheerfully accept its guidance, and do not, as the young man did in the days of Christ, find fault with any of his directions. All the promises of Goda God of eternal truth-form a sure foundation for hope. No longer, then, reader, rest on that which will prove to be only a refuge of lies. As a despiser of the value of the gospel, you are guilty, and as such condemned. The means of salvation are within your reach ; embrace them, and you also shall find the gospel a "treasure." Oh! seek this treasure in faith, with earnestness, and without delay.
To gain this treasure, resign every other. It is worth every
worth keeping. You are required to resign nothing but what is evil; therefore, nothing but what it is an advantage to surrender. Let the spirit of Moses be yours—" choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,
Heb. xi. 25. With: Matthew, if Christ commands, leave “all and follow him," Luke v. 28. With Paul, “confer not with flesh and blood,” Gal. i. 16. The approbation of Heaven will amply compensate the frowns and sneers of a mistaken world. To be despised by your earthly friends will be a light evil, cheerfully borne, if you obtain admission among the “ kindred in Christ.” Temporal loss is light in the balance with eternal gain.
But do you see something of its value, and in some degree desire the possession of this “ treasure,” yet doubt if it can ever be yours? Why, it was for such as you the blessings of the gospel were provided to you they are offered: but they must be accepted by you. If you wait till they are forced upon you, you wait for ever. Whosoever is willing, let him take this treasure freely, Rev. xxii. 17.
If, however, reader, you are altogether careless about the matter--if you see no value in religion now, and are indifferent as to whether you ever shall-take this solemn warning, given in affectionate concern for
your best interests:—The value of the gospel will not always be hid from you. You remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man had his 'good things” in this life, and died careless of aught beyond it; “ and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.'
How bita terly does he lament the past : how changed were his views then! His brethren are living as he did : how earnestly he pleads that some one might be sent to them, “ that they come not into that place of torment!” Luke xvi. 19–31. Shall the realities of eternity alone open your eyes ? Shall the value of the soul's salvation be only revealed to you by its everlasting loss? The “ treasure" of the gospel is offered you ; it is within your reach
you refuse to reach out your hand and take it? Pause, ere you cast it from you!
There is a voice of sovereign grace
Sounds froin God's sacred word,
And trust upon the Lord.
My soul obeys the almighty call,
And runs to this relief:
Oh! help my unbelief.
How naturally we shudder when we hear that a fellow man has lifted his hand against his own life, and rushed, as it were, unbidden into the presence of his Maker ! Yet, alas ! how many thousands of those who thus shudder are guilty of moral selfmurder, and destroy themselves—their souls, for ever! This was God's charge against his ancient Israel, “ Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,” Hos. xiii. 9. This will be, nay is, his charge against every sinner, unless he have embraced his offers of eternal life through Christ.
There is, unhappily, amongst men a disposition to ascribe their spiritual condition to others rather than themselves; to look at the position and circumstances in which they have been placed as the cause of their transgressions; and to encourage a false hope that these will furnish something of an apology for them, when they shall be called to for the deeds done in the body." This may not improbably be the case with the reader : if so, be persuaded to give serious attention to the solemn fact, that as a sinner knowingly living in sin, and in disobedience to the gospel of Christ, and therefore inevitably exposed to the just anger of God, you are, if you continue so, the wilful destroyer of your own soul; and of you it will be justly said, Sinner, thou hast destroyed thyself.
Now it is true that there are other enemies of your soul, and
against these it is right to warn you; but the blame of your destruction rests not with them. The careless professor of religion, by his indifference to your spiritual interests, by the inconsistency of his daily practice with his acknowledged principles, by his eager attachment to the world, its pursuits and pleasures ; your associates and companions, by their unholy conversation and conduct, by their sneering impiety or worldly indifference; and lastly, Satan, by his various and many temptations, by his direct hinderances to the means of your enlightenment, by his resolute opposition to every good motive, by the incentives to evil he stirs up within you: these, all of them, are enemies of your soul. But do not attempt to excuse yourself by referring to inconsistent professors, or evil companions, or the temptations of Satan. You are not to judge of religion from hypocrites, or even the best of its advocates alone. God has given you the Bible, and the example of Jesus. Your companions are of your own choosing, or your continued association with them is your own act: the great enemy of souls has no power over you but what you yourself have voluntarily given him. You have only faintly resisted him, if at all, or have easily yielded. Though your enemies, therefore, are thus numerous and powerful, still it will be ever true, Thou hast destroyed thyself.
Again: some seek to excuse themselves by referring to the decrees of God. But these are not our rule of duty; we must look to his written word. And what mean those affectionate exhortations—" Come now, and let us reason together," etc., Isa. i. 18; “Turn yourselves, and live ye,” Ezek. xviii. 32:those tender complaints—“My people doth not consider," Isa. i. 3; “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,” John v. 40 :-those decisive declarations—" The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,' 2 Pet. 3, 9; " Who will have all men to be saved," 1 Tim. 2, 4? Why does he prolong our time, but that his longsuffering and goodness may lead to repentance ? Surely these are sufficient to show that a sinner's condemnation is in no way to be ascribed to the decrees of God.
But there is something in the nature of religion itself, you say, that prevents your salvation : you cannot understand it. Now let us see how far this bolds good. There are truths assuredly " hard to be understood," but the things that accompany salvation" are revealed plainly enough. That you are a sinner, 1 John i. 10, and as such exposed to God's just anger, Ezek. xviii. 20; that Jesus has died to save you, Rom. v. that eternal life may be yours by believing in him, and committing yourself to be saved by him, 2 Tim. i. 1 ;-is not this
THE MORAL SUICIDE.
“But religion requires to rule.” Ah! this is the secret. Yes, every thought, word, and deed, must be subjected to it; and do you not feel its dominion to be just ? Does not conscience, does not your very nature tell you, that it is right that the religion of God should have all sway if any sway?
But again we hear, “My nature is so constituted that I cannot comply with the requirements of religion.” You are weak and ignorant, you say. The Scriptures state it, you feel it, and it is true, But you are as capable of applying your powers to the truth of God as to other pursuits : your darkness is not that of a pagan. Are you living up to the light you possess? Have you done all you can to obtain clear views of scriptural truth. If not, is this objection an honourable one ? Think
you it will afford an excuse for you before God, when your own conscience is now telling you it is a false one?
" But the Scriptures assure me that the influence of the Holy Spirit is necessary to my becoming a Christian." You know this, and yet have never sought his influence. Sun and rain are necessary for the corn to grow, but do men therefore forget to sow the seed ?
Come, be upright. You do, then, it may be hoped, in some degree begin to see that there is nothing in the decrees of the Father, the work of the Son, or the manner of the operation of the Divine Spirit; nothing in religion itself, or in the condition of your own nature, to prevent your acceptance of the terms of salvation. Still in faithfulness and love must you be charged with the guilt of moral suicide. Notwithstanding all that you have urged, your conscience bears witness to the truth, that, dying unrepenting and unbelieving, “Thou hast destroyed thyself.”
But further: “God has done everything necessary to promote your salvation.” Not only has he, in compassionate tenderness, provided the means, and opened a way of safety for you in giving his Son to die for you, but he offers you the assistance of his Spirit to enable you to comply with the required conditions ; and still further, he has made those conditions simple and easy: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts xvi. 31. A simple confidence in Jesus is all that he requires; and if you refuse this, are you not chargeable with moral suicide ? Surely, “ Thou hast destroyed thyself.”
Moreover, a man perishes because he chooses to do so. You wilfully neglect the claims of God. “I inattentive!" Yes, you, if the Bible be unstudied and its appeals unheeded: if the public ministrations of the gospel be not attended; if the truth you already know be suffered to remain dead, not acted up to, you wilfully follow the course to perdition. It has been