Page images
PDF
EPUB

upon it; for it

die the sooner by considering your latter end, or live the longer by forgetting it. That very unwillingness to reflect upon your mortality, shows that you have much need to reflect

proves

that you are unfitted for death. Consider what it is to die,—what scenes burst upon the mind the next moment after death-all the realities of the unseen world; and then think that all this is before you, perhaps near to you; that from it at any time you are separated only by a thin partition of flesh and blood. Oh, be this your prayer, your sincere, fervent, daily prayer, “So teach ine to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom.”

Surely death is an event for which, come when it maywhether in youth, in old age, or in the middle of life-there ought to be a suitable preparation. “ Prepare to meet thy God,” is a sound which should never be out of your ears, till you can say with the apostle, “ I am ready to depart.” What tremendous import is there in the word preparation, as applied to a dying hour !

But what is preparation ? Not a few hasty prayers said by us, or by a clergyman for us, in our departing moments ; not taking the sacrament; not saying we are sorry for our sins, and that we die in charity with all men. Many do all this, who are awfully unprepared for death, and sink to the bottomless pit, when they expect to soar away to the regions of eternal glory. True religion, the religion of the heart, a religion of penitence, faith, holiness, prayer,-a religion that is a living, abiding, influential principle, rooted in the soul, forming the whole character, producing a holy taste, and dictating holy pursuits ; such a religion as is described in the foregoing pages, and exemplified in the life and death of Clementine ;-this, this is preparation for our latter end. We are not, cannot be prepared to go away from earth, till we are prepared to go into heaven. “Verily, verily,” said Christ, “except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of hea

Our title to heaven is acquired for us by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us in our justification ; our meetness for heaven by the work of the Holy Spirit in our regeneration and sanctification; and no one is prepared to go into the presence of God, till he is thus justified, renewed, and purified.

A mere death-bed repentance is often a delusive thing. True repentance is never too late, but late repentance is rarely true. Neither pungent remorse, nor deep humiliation, nor ecstatic joy, experienced in the prospect of dissolution, if expressed then for the first time, are much to be relied upon. Myriads have felt all this, who, upon their recovering, became as bad as

ven.”

before, and even worse. Religion is knowledge deliberate purpose—the choice of a supreme good, the election of the heart between contending competitors for its affections ; it is faith, hope, love. Say, then, if this great, this entire moral revolution and renovation can be expected to take place amidst the decays, the struggles, the groans of expiring nature? Can it be looked for that the great work will be done amidst restless days and sleepless nights, the langours of disease, the agony of pain, and the incoherence of delirium. Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. Every thing but the spirit of procrastination in man says, now; the word of God repeatedly and emphatically says, now; the dispensations of Providence say, now ; the uncertainty of life, as illustrated in the deaths of the young and healthy, says, now; the voice of reason and conscience says, now ; the affectionate advice of parents, friends, and ministers, says, now; the infinite value of the soul says, now; the transcendent worth of salvation says, now ; the present happiness of religion says, now ; the vanity of the world says, now ; the discomfort, and, in many cases, the misery, of a life of sin says, now ; in short, every thing, but Satan, the adversary and destroyer of souls, says, now. God says, “ To-day, if ye will hear my voice, harden not your hearts ;” and, “ Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth :” and it is only the suggestion of the Wicked One to put the duty off to “a more convenient season."

THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,

27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON ;

AND

J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, LONDON

J.&W. Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London,

THE GREAT CHANGE. THE GREAT CHANGE.

1 He subject presented to the reader's attention is one of the highest moment, and yet, it is to be lamented, is one respecting which the greatest and most lamentable mistakes have prevailed—that change of heart and character to which the Scriptures apply the terms. “ being converted,” and “being born again.” Some have imagined that religious conversion or regeneration is effected by baptism, so that whoever is baptized is of necessity regenerated ; this, however, is neither consistent with Scripture nor with fact. Gibbon and Hume were baptized in their infancy, but lived and died infidels. Simon Magus was baptized, but certainly not regenerated; for he was subsequently declared by an apostle to be “in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity.” Others have considered outward reformation to be regeneration ; but neither is this correct. Still less is it to be found in the feeling of remorse which comes over a man, when the consequences of his sins are set before him with an unusual degree of vividness—remorse, which, in its turn, is often mistaken for real repentance. Saul became another man," without becoming a new man: Ahab “humbled himself,” yet became not truly humble. Many profess to repent of some great iniquity, but relapse again into evil courses; and some reform their conduct, because the state of their health, or perhaps the monitions of a disquieted conscience, induce them to do so, though they still remain ignorant of the "one thing needful,” and their hearts continue as unimpressed as the “unwedgeable and gnarled oak.” True repentance and genuine reformation always accompany the great change of which we speak; but the change itself is more than either of them.

The surest preservative against erroneous conceptions on this momentous subject, is to study attentively the numerous references made to it in the sacred volume, our only unerring guide with respect to this and every other Christian doctrine. It is impossible not to perceive that the mutation is neither slight nor transient, which is implied in the terms conversion and regeneration. The words refer to two circumstances of the same change: the one indicating “a turning from one thing to another;" the other “a new creation, or a new birth.” The selection and classification of a few texts will show that these two terms do most naturally convey the idea of the transformation they are chosen to describe.

It was manifestly something more than a mere nominal passage from one religion to another, to which reference is made by the prophet Jeremiah, when he recorded the prayer of Ephraim bemoaning himself, “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God,”—Jer. xxxi. 18; and again, in the faithful exhortation which he was deputed to deliver to the Jews, “ Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings.”—Jer. xxv. 5. Equally expressive is the command of God by the lips of the prophet Joel; “ Rend your hearts, and not your garments; and turn unto the Lord

your God, for he is gracious and merciful.”—Joel ii. 13. The language of our Lord is clear and decisive: “ Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”—Matt. xviii. 3. “ He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath passed from death unto life.John v. 24. The apostles were directed, by their divine Master, to preach to the Gentiles, that they might “ turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.- Acts xxvi. 18.

Of the entire renovation of thought, and feeling, and character, implied in this change, the following portions of Scripture give an impressive view : “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”—Ps. li. 10. “I will put a new spirit within them, and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh; that they may wulk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them.Ezek. xi. 19, 20. “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”—John iii. 3. 66 Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."John i. 13. « In Jesus Christ neither circumcision is

any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."--Gal. vi. 15. one another with a pure heart fervently, being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”—1 Pet. i. 23. “Every one that doeth righteousness (habitually) is born of him.—1 John ii. 29. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.—Ephes. ii. 10. “ If so be that ve have heard him, and have been taught by him as the truth is in Jesus ; that ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

66 Love

« PreviousContinue »