Page images

through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ ? Think of the terrors of a guilty conscience then ! Think, what will that dreadful feeling be when a sinner finds himself in hell—feels himself damned ? Oh, think of this now! If in the day of vengeance the righteous be scarcely saved, oh, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

Now, we are out of hell ! Blessed be God, we are not yet damned ! Nor need we be ; salvation is still within our reach; a crown of glory that fadeth not away is yet offered to us, and who is there that will not take some pains to secure it? who that will not bestir themselves to escape the place of torment? who that is so intent upon making provision for this life, that he has not time to make provision for his soul ? Who, after attending to this fearful subject, can leave it a trifler? Who will henceforward live without prayer ? Who can wilfully indulge in one sin, or who so mad as to postpone the day of repentance to a time that may never come ? Can any one be found who desires, deliberately desires, damnation ? that is the individual who will procrastinate repentance, and trifle with the mercies of Jehovah. There



who read these pages that are not far from an eternal state,-many young persons, as well as many aged ; behold, the axe is now laid to the root of the tree, and another stroke may fell it! We have all felt pains of body, more or less; the symptoms of disease and death occasionally shew themselves ; and if we postpone a preparation, we are liable to be cut down before that preparation is made; and in that event we shall do well to recollect that pain or suffering here will not exempt us from the torments of hell hereafter.

Sinner, flee from the wrath to come, take hold of

eternal life, embrace the offers of mercy made to you in the gospel through Jesus Christ, flee to a throne of grace, be instant and urgent in prayer, take no rest day nor night until the salvation of your soul is en. sured, lest in the end you should be doomed to the caverns of the damned, there to be for ever tossing in the burning surges of that sea of trouble, day and night, without rest, for ever. Consider this, ye who forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.


A BELIEVER needs no other proof than a review of his life to satisfy himself that this is not his rest. 66 Man is of few days, and full of trouble ;" afflictions seem to burst from the ground on every side and at every footstep. “ Sighs would sooner fail than cause to sigh.” He may truly exclaim, with Job, “ God hath tried me; he hath compassed me with his net ; he hath fenced up my way, that I cannot pass ; he hath set darkness in my paths; he hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head ; he hath destroyed me on every side ; mine hope hath he removed like a tree; he hath put mine acquaintance into darkness; but when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” The observer of God's dealings with his children may frequently have witnessed the fulfilment of the concluding condition of the promise—“Ye shall receive an hundred fold now in this life ; houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions."

And where is the follower of Jesus who may be living in the enjoyment of domestic happiness and felicity, and does not find an Achan in the camp ? or, if blessed with children, has not among them an Absalom? or a wife who does not often prove to be a


Michal ? or are there not husbands who frequently evince that they merit the name of Nabal, a churl, a reproach ? or where the Christian whose possessions do not prove a temptation and snare, and draw his affections from heaven ?

The world is represented as a wilderness, or desert land, a sea of trouble, which the believer, in common with all men, must pass through, but which, in his horizon, contains a prospect full of attraction to his eye, for it is cheering, and capable of infusing into his mind a joyful serenity, that increases with every step he takes on his upward way, until he approaches his journey's end, and in proportion to the nearness of its termination, and as the heavenly prospect brightens on his vision, lights up in his soul a tranquil joy.

The hope which creates and increases feelings such as these accompanies the Christian to the border of the valley that lies between him and the country he has in view ; the greater part of this valley lies upon an inclined plane, so that the traveller, who always enters on the elevated side, is propelled forward as necessarily as a ball, which, when rolled from the summit of a hill, rests not until it arrives at its base. The entrances to this valley are many; they bear the several names of the maladies to which mankind are subject. Some of these entrances are situated opposite a gradual slope in the valley; others open immediately upon precipitous projections, over which the traveller is propelled headlong into a stream that bounds the opposite side, the waters whereof wash the happy shore.

Christian travellers, whose fate thus hurries them through the valley, enter upon instant enjoyment, but miss the sweet foretastes of the blissful country which those experience who approach the valley by an entrance that causes them to linger by

the way.

[ocr errors]

Human nature experiences much enjoyment from the anticipation of good in the wilderness, and human nature in this respect is still the same when it enters the valley; but there is this difference,-in the former case, the good anticipated must be transitory, and the expectation may be disappointed; but in the valley of the shadow of death—which is a happy valley, and a very happy valley to the Christian--all is certainty ; the good anticipated is as stable as the throne of God, it is as perfect as the Redeemer's love, it is as durable as eternity.

What is it to pass through the valley, or, to speak without a metaphor, what is it to die ? The act of dying is not terrific to the believer, although, in general, nature seems to revolt at the idea. Most persons have seen the actual separation of soul and body, which is termed death, either in their relatives or friends; this simple act of separation of the one from the other is no more in a man than in a child, and little children pass calmly through the gates of death, while courageous man often trembles at the name. Death and sleep are terms synonymous, for in few cases does there appear to be any very great struggle ; generally speaking, to die is nothing more than to cease to breathe ; and the soul escapes from its clay tenement with no more, and often with less, effort than a sigh escapes the oppressed spirits of an individual in health. In cases, however, where disease has been but of short continuance, and the bodily powers are not much reduced, and in cases which are called sudden death, there is generally a short struggle, something like a rending asunder, at the instant of the separation of the spirit; this is the act of dying.

As the soul, immediately upon quitting the body, is ushered into the presence of its Judge, it is the dying state to which the metaphor, passing through the valley

« PreviousContinue »