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the offers of Him who delighteth in mercy, and thus give pleasure to angels and men, by turning from your
ways, and applying to Christ for life and salvation.
only ask once more-Why will you allow yourselves in that now, for which you will curse yourselves to all eternity?
Should justice consign you over to eternal punishment, with this indictment upon your foreheads, « These are selfdestroyers ;” no words can express, no mind can conceive, how cruel and tormenting your reflections would be. It is amazing to think how sinners will reproach and torture themselves for this voluntary perdition. “ Wretched fool !” will conscience awakened and enraged say, 66 Wretched fool ! thou wouldst have sin, though I told thee that the wages of it would be death ; and, though God with his tender mercy, and Christ with his precious blood, and the Spirit with his inward strivings, repeatedly and earnestly dissuaded thee, thou wouldst keep thy sins in defiance of them all ; and now see what thou hast brought thyself to! Heaven, which might once have been thy home, is shut against thee for ever; and now thou art in hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. I told thee of all this again and again, but could not be hearkened to; nothing but pleasure, pleasure, was minded then: and now, what art thou the better for it? Will any of thy sinful pleasures relieve thy present pain ?" But I cannot enlarge on so gloomy a subject. I ask you again, Will you, after all this, choose sin; that is, will you choose death and hell? Can you be so bereft of reason, of natural feeling, and self-love, as to consent to be eternally and insupportably miserable? What a pity is it that you should do such mischief to yourselves, as none besides on earth or hell can do ; that
you should give the fatal and deadly stroke yourselves; that you should dig your own grave, and be worse than the devil to your own souls, and be the authors and contrivers of
eternal ruin ! Methinks you begin to relent, you are almost persuaded to resolve that you will not die, or at least to wish that you may not die, but you do not know how to prevent it. Oh! if I could hope you were come to that, most gladly would I tell you—
1. Pray that your understandings may be enlightened to see the reality and dreadfulness of that destruction which you are venturing upon.
The stubbornness of the will in cleaving to sin, is in a great measure owing to the blindness of the mind in not discerning its direful consequences. Sinners could not be so very wicked, if they were not so very ignorant. If you did but know what an evil and bitter thing it is to sin against God; what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God; what a consuming fire he is, and how impossible it is to stand before him when once he is angry; if you could but conceive the horrors they must feel, who lie under the avenging strokes of Divine justice, you would not be so positive in refusing to cast away your transgressions. Beg of God, therefore, to open your blind eyes, to enable you to discover death in the threatening, before you feel it in the execution.
2. Do not give up your case as hopeless and incurable. Nothing fixes a person in a sinful course more than despair.
Thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go,” Jer. ii. 25. O say not so ; there is a door of hope opened even for the most obstinate and perverse. When Christ ascended on high, he received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them, Ps. lxviii. 18. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of them, 1 Tim. i. 15, and is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, Heb. vii. 25. There is an invitation in the word of God that you cannot put from you, Isa. xlvi. 12, “ Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness.” Your guilt is not so great but infinite mercy can pass it by; nor your hearts so hard but omnipotent grace can soften and turn them.
3. Believe in Christ for pardon, help, and acceptance.
“ Without him we can do nothing ;” and could we do ever so much, it would not be accepted at our hands; for they that are in the flesh cannot please God. We are sinful creatures, and our guilt must be atoned for, before our persons or our performances will be accepted. " He hath made us accepted in the Beloved : in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” Eph. i. 6,7. All our righteousness and strength are in him, and from him. “ Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When, therefore, you resolve to lay aside 'every weight, and the sin that doth most easily beset you, and to run the race of Christian duty set before you, be sure you look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.
4. Seek Divine assistance to break off immediately from the practice and allowance of all sin.
The longer you commit sin, the more is your will enslaved and hardened. You may fancy that you may freely and safely indulge yourselves in fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and that it will be as easy to break off some years hence as it is now ; but it is a mistake; all habits strengthen by indulgence, and sin especially gets a greater dominion by longer submitting to it. If, therefore, you would not be voluntary self-destroyers, cast away your transgressions without delay; have no more fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but come out from among them, and be separate. Cease to do evil, learn to do well.
" Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
5. Pray earnestly, and wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to make his work effectual in your souls.
The word preached is the ordinary instrument of renewing and sanctifying the souls of men, and must be conscientiously attended to. “ Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth,” James i. 18. If, therefore, at any time the word of God comes home to your consciences, either in a way of direction or reproof, be thankful for it, and pray earnestly for the Spirit to further the blessed work, and perfect that which concerneth you. The carnal will, set upon nothing but sin and destruction, must be sanctified, and turned towards holiness and heaven, or all will be in vain. It is not persuasion, working upon the affections, it is not rational arguments convincing the judgment, that will be sufficient ; there must be a new bias given to the will, and that no power less than Divine can effect. The wisest and safest course then is, to resign your will to the will of God; your own strength is perfect weakness, but he has invited you to lay hold on his almighty power.
Go then to him, as seated on a throne of grace, and say with penitent Ephraim, “ Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my God.”
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
27, RED LION SQUARE.
J. &W.Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
NOW, NOW; NOT BY AND BY.
All pay themselves the compliment to think
A HABIT of procrastination, though common, is very sinful and injurious; it wastes time, one of our most valuable blessings, and is characteristic of a weak and irresolute mind, The tendency towards this habit ought to be scrupulously watched against by all, especially the young, and uniformly and zealously resisted. It is fostered by indulgence, and in all cases realizes the fable of the snake restored to life and animation by the mistaken kindness of the countryman, who was killed by it.
As Solomon taught long ago, in its train follow poverty and want; and when its influence extends to the concerns of the soul, misery, ruin, and death are its awful consequences.
Infidelity and vice have slain their thousands, but Procrastination her tens of thousands. Few individuals can deliberately make up their minds to neglect absolutely the unspeakably important interests of Eternity-but they defer the consideration till some future period. As the sluggard desires a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to sleep; so do many of the young, yes, and many of the old, delay from day to day, and from year to year, attention to eternal objects. The language of their conduct is, “Not now, but by and by;'—'to-morrow, but not to-day,'—whilst the language of God to them is, “ To-day if
ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.—Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.”
When God and man are so differently minded, it is quite clear that man must be wrong, yea, very far wrong; he is in the opposite direction to that which is right. The first thing, then, is, to make him see and feel that he is wrong; the second, to set him right. If the reader be conscious to himself that he has been triling with the concerns of Eternity, acting on the principle of Not now, but by and by,' let him seriously attend to the following considerations.
He has been in this respect guilty of direct disobediencehe has been despising the authority and trampling under foot