Page images
PDF
EPUB

mislead the doubting soul, who might be supposed to conclude that, because he has never attained to joy and peace in believing, that therefore he has no portion with believers. Remember, joys are not the best evidences of a salvable state, however much they are to be desired. The best proofs of a work of regeneration having commenced in the heart, is a thorough hatred to every known sin; and then it follows of course that an exterminating war will be commenced against it; the armour will be buckled on, the combat will be manfully maintained, the watch tower will be the

post of observation. Another proof will be, anxious desires, and increasing aspirations after a holy and heavenly frame of mind; all the sweet morsels of sin will be loathed, all the lusts will be subdued, or brought into subjection ; and in proof that spiritual mindedness is the object of desire, the regenerated man will be frequently upon his knees in secret, will detect himself in stealing opportunities from the avocations of life to hold converse with God; and this is the experience of many a heavenly-minded Christian. But be not deceived, God will not be mocked with the appearance of worship ; he desires not the form of prayer; it is the heart and the affections that must be given to him in prayer ; it is for this that he woos the sinner; the heart must be in all your praises, in all your requests, and in all your intercessions, or prayer is but a solemn mockery of God.

The man who is born again will always reckon that he has not yet attained, as he will experience that he is not yet perfect; and therefore he will be forgetting the things that are behind, and be pressing forward to the things that are before, that are held out to him ; for there is no standing still in religion; if a man is not gaining ground, he is decidedly losing it ; if he is not

M

advancing, he is retrograding. And these are some of the effects, some of the symptoms or proofs, of that great change having taken place in the heart of a sinner: “Old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new."

You have been attending, reader, to a very important doctrine of religion, as taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, and I doubt not you give your assent to the truth of it; but do you desire that this change should pass upon you ? Do you feel the necessity in your own case that you must be born again? If you earnestly desire it, you will now retire to your secret chambers, and will there prostrate yourself before the eternal God, and will not cease to importune him, and to wrestle with him in prayer, until he grant the boon of a new heart.

243

DEATH AND JUDGMENT.

It is evident from the present scheme of things that the world cannot always remain as it now is, with respect to its moral government. When we look through the different grades of society, we see nothing but violence and oppression, dishonesty and fraud. However desirable the continuance of the present state of things may be to those who are at ease in their possessions, it cannot reasonably be supposed by the considerate observer that a just and righteous God can look on without purposing to rectify the abuses that, through the tyranny of sin, have nearly swept away all right, and to punish the usurper who has scouted his righteous laws, and substituted in their place deceit and outrage. “The land is full of adulterers, because of swearing the land mourneth ; both prophet and priest are profane, yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable ? shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights ? For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouths.” Therefore hath God “appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised himn from the dead.”

Now it is appointed unto men once to die; that is, to have a separation effected between the soul and body, those intimately united and affectionate friends and companions. And this is an act that God, by his omnipotent power, is continually effecting; and he only has a right to exercise that power, as he was the former and the creator. To represent death as personified, or as a tyrant, or under any other form, is only ideal, for death is neither a person, nor a thing, nor a spirit; nor is it either visible or tangible. Death is the extinction of life; it is a ceasing to be in the present state ; and therefore, if there is anything terrific in it to us, it must be found either in the uncertainty whither we are going after death, or in the chidings and rebukes of conscience, which augur a dread of judgment to come.

Many of the followers of the Lamb have met death in all its most dreadful forms, and have sung songs of triumph while their bodies were consuming at the stake ; and they have been enabled so to do from a sense of pardoned sin, and from having had that pardon sealed to them by the blood of the covenant; and, feeling assured of an interest in the blood of Jesus, from possessing the first fruits of the Spirit, they have hailed death as a friend, which, while it closed their eyes to terrestrial things, opened their enlarged senses to eternal things,—which, while it shut up the springs of earthly supplies, poured into their happy spirits the fulness of Him who filleth all in all.

That there is nothing really fearful in the act of dying, innumerable proofs might be given. How many My pro

)

young persons have hailed the hour with exhilarating joy! One said, “Oh, rejoice with me; I am going to receive a glorious crown, a crown of many pardons ! Could you offer me the whole universe, I would rather die, and be with Christ.” Another said, “ spects are so bright for eternity, that that alone enables me to bear more than half my sufferings.”

When we reflect upon who it is that has appointed that death shall pass upon all, we may rest assured of its certainty; for He is wisdom, and has no need to change his counsels, which were from all eternity; He is truth, in him is no variableness. God, the supreme lawgiver, has decreed irrevocably and unalterably to all the sinful posterity of Adam ; and he has passed sentence upon all in the person of apostate Adam as their representative: “ The soul that sinneth shall die.” This is the sentence of the righteous Judge, which was never reversed but in the cases of Enoch and Elijah, and which has been fulfilled in every age of time up to this present hour. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they “ live for ever”? and shall we expect to escape the fulfilment of the sentence ? Death, in its consequences.

When the messenger arrives, or, in other words, when the time appointed comes, we shall be called to leave present scenes. On the day of our death, it is probable the sun will shine as brightly as ever it shone ; his golden rays will gild the enamelled plain, and light up ten thousand glories in our world, but not for our eyes to behold. The glad hearts of those who remain may rejoice in his light; but our day of death is come, and we must go hence, and be no more. The busy world on that day will plunge as usual into all the bustle and business of life ;

« PreviousContinue »