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“ Dead, already dead within,
after second death? Will
still in sin remain,
Why will ye for erer die ?" MY DEAR READER,—Your character and condition are accurately described in the Word of God; and, taking that infallible standard as my guide in this address, I shall proceed to lay before you a few observations, in which you are deeply interested. It is my desire to speak to you in plainness and faithfulness, and I earnestly beseech you to weigh, with seriousness, the solemn truths to which I am about to direct your attention.
“ Your foundation is in the dust, and you dwell in a house of clay,” Job iv.; and a body, thus made of clay and founded in the dust, oh how frail! Young, blooming, and healthy as you, perhaps, may now be, this sentence is written on your forehead, “ Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return." You are “the child of a day,"—the longest life is but a short span; and compared with eternity is nothing. It is a swift day—“swifter than a post,” (Job xi.) running his appointed distance; "swifter than a weaver's shuttle, (Job vii.) that you see plying with the utmost rapidity, and hastening the more the nearer it approaches the end : the past is now like the tale that you heard last night; and the future that you build so much upon, is every instant
becoming the present_and the present, ere you can speak of it, is become the past. But it is also an uncertain day; you cannot trust to one moment-you may be crushed before the moth, (Job iv.) light and soft as the touch of the moth is; nay, some die in a moment, so that we can find no cause of their death, save that God has in sovereignty said, “ Return,” (Psa. xc.) And it may be to some reader of these lines, whilst yet reading them, that this voice may have gone forth, “ Thou fool, THIS NIGHT thy soul shall be required of thee!” (Luke xii.) Tell me—nay, rather tell that conscience which is even now restless within you at the thought, why may not that one be You?
Now what is it that makes this frailty, this swiftness, this uncertainty of life so awful? Just this—you are a sinner. Ah, you are tired of hearing that, are you not? The more I pity you-for I fear that they who are most tired of hearing that they are sinners, are the most likely to drink deepest of everlasting misery. You are made in order to glorify God in every thing, (1 Cor. x. 31.) by loving and obeying him. Now look back to your earliest remembrance, and point to one thing you have done purely from love to God, that is, for His glory. What a man loves best, that he thinks most about ; now what have you been thinking most of ? Have you not had many thoughts about being clever, and rich, and great in this world-but none seriously about being holy, and good, and eternally happy in the world to come? Is that like a creature made to glorify God? You have been angry and in a passion-you have been cruel to God's creatures—you have told falsehoods-you have done mischief and sought to conceal it, as if there were no God-or sought to excuse it, as if that God could not read your heart. Is all that like the conduct of one created to glorify God? You have mocked this God a thousand times by praying only with your lips-by reading his holy Word only as a form or a task -by trifling, speaking, laughing, staring, or sleeping, in that holy house where He was present; and even in your sabbath days, by saying that then you ought to love and obey God, and afterwards showing by your conduct on his holy day, that you hated Himself and hated his law. Can you,
Can you, dare you, deny these things ? Let that whisper of conscience within you speak out and answer. What saith it? “Verily I am guilty.” How runs the law ? “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” Dare you say that you have done
Your conscience again says, “ No"—and the God of that law and of your conscience saith, “ No !" Say not, “ I have done my best.”—No, you have not done your best —and even if you had, the law will receive no excuse, nothing short of perfect obedience in every thought, word, and deed. Hear what it saith to you, even to you—“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the .book of the law to do them.” (Gal. iji. 10.) Oh! I would to God I could make you see what an awful thing it is to be thus under the curse of the Almighty God who made you, for his curse is no vain words: Cursed in life, cursed in death, cursed through ErerNITY-cursed in every thought, in every word, in every action-cursed in
you eat, in every drop you drink, in every
breathe the earth a curse to you, for it tempts you to sin-heaven a curse to you, because you shall be shut out from it-and hell the sum of the curse, because you shall be for ever tormented by yourself, by devils, by the damned, and by the exceeding fierceness of Divine wrath, in that awful lake of fire and of brimstone, of weepings, of wailings, and of gnashings of teeth! Over that pit you are every moment hung by the much provoked forbearance of God, as by a hair—the weight of another sin may break that hair, and where are you? far beyond the reach of mercy's voice! Oh! think seriously of these words of God himself" Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away at a stroke; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee!” (Job xxxvi.) These are awful sayings—but they are true--and true you will find them to be, perhaps on a death-bed, but certainly on the judgment-day, if you take not warning now.
“My God, I feel the mournful scene ;
My bowels yearn o'er dying men ;
And snatch the firebrands from the flame !" My dear friend, it is to you in this very condition, weak, mortal, sinful, condemned, and every moment in danger of everlasting destruction, that the offer of salvation is made. It is therefore to you as such that I address this important query, in the words of Jesus himself.
I. “What think you of Christ ?” What is the answer of your heart to this?" Do you wish to pass by this question unanswered; then, indeed, I do pity your poor unfortunate heart, when the very mention of Christ's name, when the bare recollection of all those sorrows and agonies which he endured on our behalf, cannot for one moment stop t!2 current of your vain thoughts. Oh! do not think it trouble for one little moment to pause and consider this matter ! I do not wish to torment you, but to save you from torment. If, however, you harden yourself, and pass by this question with indifference, then you have with a firm foot advanced one step nearer to destruction—you sin against love unsearchable. Well, what say you? Is your answer, “I don't know what to think of him?” This will not do. What ! did the well-beloved and eternal Son of God endure all those awful sufferings for sin, that a vile worm, whom he could in a moment crush into misery, should dare in his very presence to say, “I know not what to think of thee !" Oh, cruelty !-had you with that hard heart been with the Jews, you too would have cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”
Once more, what say you? “I know that He is lovely, but I dare not say that I love him.” Then I would next ask, do you wish to love him ; from the heart, do you wish it ? Does your conscience say, No? Does your conduct say, No? Then I can do no more, but leave you in the hands of your God: let him do with you as seemeth him good. To know Jesus to be worthy of love, and yet not wish to love him ! Oh! my dear reader, I conjure you by all that is awful in Eternity, to strive to awake from so awful a condition.
Is your reply, “I would indeed wish to love him, if I knew but how; I am grieved from the heart that I do not and cannot love him?" If in this answer you be sincere, as in the sight of God, then indeed there may be hope ; and if I were by you, I would stretch out the hand of affection to you. « Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matt. v.) Behold the gift of the Holy Spirit freely promised to perform all that you desire.
1. It is the office of the Spirit to give“ a new heart and a right spirit.” Your natural mind is enmity against God and Christ—but the renewed mind loves him. Oh! plead then earnestly for the fulfilment to you of that precious promise in Ezekiel xxxvi. 25—27, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you;" for to you it is addressed if you but believe and trust in it.
2. It is the office of the Spirit to reveal Christ, in all his Joveliness and excellency, to the heart and spirit thus renewed. Christ says to his sorrowing disciples, "The Spirit shall testify of me”—“He shall glorify me”-“ He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you.” (John xv. 26, and xvi. 14.) Plead, then, this promise also, that the Spirit may
reveal Christ to you, in all his glory, as “Emmanuel, God with us.”
3. It is the office of the Spirit to “shed abroad in the heart the love of Christ,” (Rom. v.) thus revealed. He has done so to others-oh! plead that He may do so to you also. For hear the promise—“Ask, and
shall receiveseek, and ye shall find." (Luke xi.)
If then you are sincere in wishing to love Jesus, and yet know not how, oh, be earnest, night and day, in pleading for his Holy Spirit, to“ renew you in the spirit of your mind ;” to reveal Christ to your soul; and to shed abroad the love of him in your heart. This is what is meant by being born again; and remember what Jesus himself says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John iii.)
II. Another question I would now put to you- and grant, O Almighty God, for the sake of Him with whom thou art ever well pleased, that whosoever readeth these lines, may
it by, without laying it to heart !- It is this: “Wilt thou go with this man, even with this Jesus? Yea or nay, for there can be no silence, no half-way. Consider with whom I ask you to go. It is with Jesus, the “ Lord of glory,” the eternal Son of God—“fairer than the sons of men, the “chief among ten thousand,” and “ altogether lovely.” He is the “brightness of the Father's glory,” the
express image of his person,” and therefore, also, he is « Love.” It is in vain to say that this earth never saw his like; for the heaven of heavens, every stone of whose pavement is precious and beautiful, with all its glory and joy, is not even mentioned in the songs of the blessed that dwell there. But it is the Lamb of God, the chosen Lamb that was slain, the glorious Lamb now upon the throne, that fills the hearts and souls of ten thousand times ten thousand spirits at this very moment in His immediate presence, who were once as guilty and hell-deserving as you or I. Come up-let us join them-hear that voice which says, “coine up hither"--why should we not? They too were asked if they would go with Jesus ; and, through his grace given to them and now offered to you, they said, “ We will go!" Oh! my dear fellow-mortal, say you, too, “I will go,” in sincerity and in dependence on that grace, and we shall yet be happy with that Lamb and with those blessed ones. Do you ask nie,
what is it “ to go with Jesus?” I answer, it is to " believe in him with the heart,” to trust in hiin, to