« ZurückWeiter »
crushing the truth. Its frustration is certain-the triumph of the truth certain. "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." The dark clouds will yet pass away. The ignorance and superstition of some, the elegant frivolity, or worldly indifference, or philosophic infidelity of others, will yet come to an end. The cross will yet draw all men to Christ. He will yet be acknowledged as the only Head and King of his church. It may be long before that consummation. You may have been for generations gathered to your fathers. But if in your life you have been faithful to the trust which God has committed to you, you will behold with joy the triumph of the truth, for which you seemed to bear testimony in vain, and will unite in the shouts and songs of an enlightened and emancipated world.
4. And finally. The first duty which we owe to divine truth is to believe it; submitting to its sway our own hearts and lives.
It is in vain for us to unite ourselves with the friends of truth, and aid in its propagation by our labours, influence, or contributions, unless we are ourselves partakers of its life-giving and sanctifying power. It will not avail us to be of the right party, unless its principles influence our hearts. We may help to defend the store-house, and yet die of starvation. We may fight in the ranks of Christ's soldiers, and yet, rebels in heart, be separated from them when the rewards of victory are to be distributed. Judas even preached the truth, and wrought miracles in attestation of it, and was nevertheless a traitor, and suffered that fearful doom in respect to which our Lord declared that it would have been good for him if he had not been born. And we are told that, at the last day, many will plead that they have spoken in Christ's name, and in his name done many wonderful works; unto whom he will say, "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Take heed, then, brethren, that you suffer nothing to divert from your chief business-the care of your own souls, in personally "obeying the truth." any of you are strangers to the saving power of the gospel, your first concern is, not with the religious differences prevailing around you, but with the great difference existing between yourselves and God. Your first anxiety should be to obtain peace with him. The truths which demand your present and most serious attention are those of "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You may have correct notions and great zeal on other topics; but if you are not right on these-right experimentally, all will be in vain. Believe, then, on the Lord Jesus Christ, for your own salvation. Come to him in penitence and humility; trust in his sacrifice; submit to his authority; pray earnestly to be taught by his Spirit; learn of him. He will make known to "and the truth shall make you the truth; you free." Then will you present in your own persons evidence of the excellence of the gospel ;-then, but only then, will you be in a state to inquire successfully into all its principles, and become consistent and faithful witnesses on its behalf.
THE LAST PRAYER.
In the midst of the Atlantic Ocean, and confined in a small cabin on board of one of the noblest specimens of British naval architecture, lay a young lady, far from all her endeared friends, except one. Scarcely four weeks had elapsed since the white cliffs of England had sunk beneath the horizon, and she was already about falling asleep in Jesus. Faithful
and devoted had she been to her Saviour while her feet trod the soil of her dear native land, and her spirit dwelt among her kindred; but, with earnest desires for an enlarged sphere of usefulness, she had dedicated herself to Christ's service in India, whither she was now bound. Before her energetic spirit took its flight from this world, she remembered home,
and her last petition ascended to her Father on its behalf. While tossing on her restless pillow, and unaware of the presence of any witness, she was heard to utter the following brief prayer: "Oh! Lord, arouse thy people. Oh! Lord, they are very cold in thy service. Oh! Lord, stir them up to work for a wicked world." She was on the threshold of the eternal world, and the great truths of revelation shone into her soul with an increased warmth; but the depressed state of Christ's cause at home, and the guilty conduct of his professed followers, was uppermost in her mind, and prompted this dying petition to her Lord. Being dead she yet speaketh; and her request shall not have been in vain if only one is profited by the following admonitions; for it is a matter of universal lamentation that real vital piety is in a low state, while the demands of the times are for an earnest and devoted Christian people.
1. Your own profession ought to make you earnest. Christ has enlightened your minds, and made you to perceive something of the evil nature of sin. By faith you are joined to Christ, and acknowledged to be part of his body-the church, and anticipate shortly to be for ever delivered from the power of all evil, and enter into the joy of your Lord. Your Redeemer has done, and will do, all this for you. You believe in the solemn realities of an eternal heaven for the righteous, and an eternal hell for the wicked; of the infinite blessedness in store for the former, and the unutterable misery prepared for the latter. You believe that all are in perishing need of salvation, and that Christ is able and willing to save all who come to him. Does your practice correspond with these important professions? or are you a fruitless professor, testifying by your life that your professed belief is all a lie? Have you never recommended that Saviour whom you love to your most intimate friend? And yet you expect to be saved, notwithstanding your glaring unfaithfulness.
scription, and requires you at all times to act as a faithful soldier, a true witness for him. Remember he demands all your heart, at all times, and at all places; not once, but continually; as servant and master, at home and abroad, in the week as well as the Lord's day. How frequently have you advocated his claims on the deck of the steamer, or in the railway-train? Surely it is full time immediately to re-consider the guilt and defects of your past conduct, and begin to render a hearty, sincere, and fervent service to your glorious Saviour.
3. The value of the soul is a powerful motive to earnestness. Our fathers, where are they? They are gone; the tomb has long enchained their dust. Even memory fails to remember them. They live above or below. They live for ever there; for
as the tree falleth, so shall it lie." What a powerful impression this great and stupendous fact ought to exercise over us! Our immortality—our birthright is, to live for ever, after suns and systems have grown old and vanished. This dignity cannot be fully realized unless by earnest inquiry, labour, and prayer. Neither can the importance of its truthfulness be impressive, unless by a continued effort to keep the flame burning in our naturally cold hearts. You are surrounded on all sides by those who have the same destiny before them: all are pressing onwards to eternity, and speedily their fate will be decided. Alas! that the great majority give no evidence of being prepared for heaven. They are actively employed in treasuring up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath. Their position is becoming more and more hopeless. However, their eyes are upon you. They judge chiefly of the value and importance of religion, not by your profession, but by your practice. You cannot escape the conclusions they arrive at respecting you. Here are allpowerful motives to stimulate you to act out your profession with a devoted earnestness, commensurate to the greatness of your own and their destiny. Judging from past experience, do you not, in the language of the prayer we have noted, require to be aroused to work for a wicked world? for you are very cold in Christ's service.
2. The claims of Jesus ought to urge you to earnestness. If you are his, he makes an authoritative claim to a full and entire possession of you. Never can he abate any of his claims, but asserts them over you at all times and in all circumstances. He desires no sleepy followers; all or nothing; for he who is not with him is against him. His are all your gifts and graces; he claims your prayers, your influence, your testimony, your wealth, your talents of every de
4. Another consideration which ought to make you an earnest Christian is, the welcome of Jesus. You profess to love him now, and your closet sometimes witnesses your regrets that you do not love him more. You can love him more, and
you ought always to be progressing in this grace. You must speedily occupy a more important position with respect to him you must appear before him to give an account of yourself. Seriously and searchingly ask yourself, What have I done for Jesus? What am I doing daily for him? How will he receive me? The master rejoices over a faithful servant; so the joy of Jesus over you will be in proportion to your devotedness to him. Has he bestowed upon you one, or five, or ten talents? Are you employing them always for him, by labouring and striving to save yourself and those around you? Difficulties, to attain this end, must be overcome. Self-denial must be exercised. Sacrifices must be made, with pure motives, and under the firm persuasion that in acting so you are doing it for Christ. Keep this end uppermost in your thoughts, and cheerfully work for him while here, knowing the more labour you expend for him, and the greater the diligence you exhibit to advance his glory, the greater shall be your reward above. This is a fact which ought to be dwelt upon. We are not, recollect, to be saved because of our works; but, most assuredly, our reward shall be according to our works, as it respects their number and purity. Again, hear the testimony of our dying friend: "Do not,' said she, "fear to take trouble for the sake of Christ; remember whose cause it is. Mind not though people laugh at you; do what you ought for Christ's cause.
5. The crown which awaits you ought to make you earnest. Difficulties are inseparable from a Christian's life. If you have experienced few of them, you ought seriously to inquire whether this has not arisen from neglect of duty. There can be no crown without the cross; and if you become zealous, the world may, and doubtless will despise you, when it beholds you throwing aside your former coldness and indifference, and fighting manfully to gain the crown. This second conversion very many require. The prize is great immensely great—and to gain it requires intense earnestness. It is a crown of righteousness-of glory-of life; an incorruptible crown, bestowed only upon those who are faithful unto death. To be crowned by Christ-to be one of that vast number who, while surrounding the throne, will cast their crowns at his feet, and crown him Lord of all, is an honour and glory altogether unspeakable, and the thought of which ought to stimulate you to strive to make your re
ligious profession full of life and activity, that thus its effects may be visible upon yourself, and its influence acknowledged by those who surround you.
6. That the night cometh, when no man can work, is an awakening truth, and should compel earnestness. Life is the seed-time for eternity: the same moment that death occurs, terminates that seedtime. All the reaping will take place in the other worlds. The lapse of a very few years shall end your probation; "then shall the dust return to the dust as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it." Opportunities for usefulness will then be all gone. Your feet will not then convey you on any errand of mercy, neither will your tongue be able to testify for Christ. All will be sealed, fixed, settled. Your sun will have set, never again to rise. The precious privileges you enjoyed of expressing your attachment to Jesus shall never again occur. How soon may this take place! The hold you have upon this earth is the most uncertain and fragile of all possessions. This year, a month, or even a shorter period, may-at most, a few years, shall-bring to pass this melancholy or glorious event. What an overwhelming motive to awake you to a careful improvement of time, and urgently to strive to advance piety in your own souls, and to abound in efforts to bless those by whom you are surrounded with a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. You require to be aroused to the performance of this pressing duty; and what hinders it except the coldness of your heart and the slight views you have of eternal truths, owing to the weakness of your faith? Beware, lest at last you be found among the wicked and slothful servants who knew their Lord's will, but did it
An eminent writer has said that "a man who will do faithfully needs to believe firmly." This is the want of Christians-greater faith; a more energetic belief in the burning realities revealed in the Bible respecting death, judgment, and eternity. To quicken, to arouse, to revive you, then, seek, above all other things, to obtain this. It will not come unsought, but only when preceded by much and earnest prayer will you experience its influence, possessing all your bodily and mental powers. The man in pursuit of this world cheerfully passes sleepless nights, or visits pestilential climes, to attain the summit of his desire. Your vocation is higher and more noble.
Your labour ought to be, to advance the work of Christ within you, by attaining a higher state of heart piety, and a more thorough consecration of all your powers to Christ. His demand is, to cease to be lukewarm, and to take a more bold, decided, and efficient side for him. Embark then, with vigour, in the godlike effort to disseminate the gospel by earnest prayer and personal effort, and thus bring sinners immediately to submit to Jesus. You must make this your ruling passion, your great, ever-present idea, whose controlling influence will be visible to all. It is the most noble of all employments, and the most blessed of all engagements. To be the instrument of forming Christ in the heart of only one is an honour which language cannot estimate, and an event in the life of that one the influence of which will extend to all eternity. It is acting in this manner that will also make your dying pillow soft, and calm your burdened heart, oppressed with anxieties. If another motive is required why you should immediately undertake your proper responsibility, and free yourself from the blood of souls, again we ask you to hear the dying petition of one who prayed for you, but whose spirit is now before the throne; and let its constraining influence impel you to reply, "Yes, Lord; henceforth I will live more devotedly to thee." J. H. W. July, 1847.
that it is a mark of extreme folly to continue in the neglect of them. If it be further noticed, that wees of the most awful description are declared in the inspired Volume to be the everlasting portion of all who die impenitent, we shall perceive that the most powerful motives are presented to induce men to turn from
their evil ways. How happens it, then, that so many, although they have been frequently exhorted and intreated to work out their salvation, are still found pursuing a career of sin, with as little apparent concern as if they wholly disbelieved the great verities of Divine revelation? Various influences combine to produce this mournful result, but it is owing, in no small degree, to a habit of wilful procrastination. Not a few indulge the idea that there will come a more convenient opportunity than the present for the all-important business of religion; and they suppose, therefore, that they may safely for a season continue in the service of sin. There can be little hazard in affirming, that tens of thousands of souls have been utterly ruined by this fatal delusion.
DANGERS OF DELAY.
It is an important but melancholy truth, that the tendencies of our fallen nature are altogether hostile to the principles of real religion. There is, accordingly, a strong indisposition in the human mind to receive the doctrines and comply with the precepts of Christianity; and a remarkable proneness exists, on the other hand, to trust in things which cannot impart happiness or security. This is unquestionably a result, as it is an evidence, of natural depravity. Considering the essential excellence of religion and the vanity of earthly objects, it might occasion surprise that any should wilfully neglect the former for the sake of obtaining the latter, thus preferring to things of the highest value those which are transitory in their duration and incapable of giving permanent satisfaction. If, indeed, we rightly estimate the incalculable benefits which true religion secures to its possessor, both for time and for eternity, we shall justly conclude
This notion of obtaining a more suitable opportunity has no support whatever, but the contrary, from reason and Scripture. What, we may ask, would be thought of an individual who was accustomed thus to trifle and delay in the affairs of this life? If, for instance, some great temporal advantage was placed within his reach, and instead of making the effort necessary to secure it, he allowed himself to sink into complete indifference and inactivity; would he not be justly accounted as having lost the use of his understanding? But the folly and madness of neglecting eternal things is evidently much greater; for if treasures of everlasting peace and felicity are offered to us, on the condition that we now repent of sin and believe in Christ, is it not most dangerous to delay? And is not wilful delay in such a case tantamount to positive refusal? It is nevertheless a fact, that thousands are acting thus to their imminent peril. Such persons should consider that they may procrastinate until they drop into hell. Some, indeed, imagine, that on the bed of death it will be easy to prepare for eternity. What! when the body is racked with pain, and the mental powers are clouded and weakened by disease? Are such circumstances as these at all favourable to the required exertion for the soul's salvation? Will the last mo
ments of a mispent life suffice to make effectual preparation for appearing before the bar of the righteous Judge? It is more probable that then the sinner will be paralyzed with terror and remorse, and be struck with dismay at the thought of being summoned to meet that God whose goodness he has despised, and whose commands he has habitually disobeyed. Alas, with how many has this been the case! In health they were careless and confident; but when death appeared they were filled with alarm, and, through fear of hell, began to cry vehemently for deliverance. Very many have deeply lamented their error, only when it was too late to repair it; the day of grace terminated, but they were not saved. How emphatic is the warning thus given to those who are in like manner neglecting their immortal interests!
The Word of God, the highest authority in the universe, declares, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation," 2 Cor. vi. 2. It is of vast importance that a right decision be made now, lest we subject ourselves to the awful denunciation: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you," Prov. i. 24-27. If any peruse these lines who have not yet experienced true conversion, let them not remain in so dangerous a condition; but, forsaking every rebellious way, cast themselves on the Divine clemency through Christ Jesus. He is the only Mediator between God and man; the only Saviour of guilty and helpless sinners. Through Him, thanks be to God! we may be delivered from the curse of sin, and obtain the blessings of eternal life: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Dec. 11th, 1846. M. W.
WHAT THINK YOU OF DEATH? OR, THE LAST MOMENTS OF A BACKSLIDING SINNER.
"When a wicked man dieth his expectation shall perish, and the hope of unjust men perisheth." PROV. xi. 7.
THE writer of this narrative was a few days ago called on to witness a deathbed scene, and to wait on a friend in his
last moments. John Stewart, the subject of the following brief narrative, was a young man once, to all human appearance, most promising of becoming a "cedar in Lebanon, and a fruitful vine in the vineyard of the Lord;" but, cut down in the prime of life, in vigour, health, and strength, "the wicked shall not live out half their days." He was for many years an intimate acquaintance of the writer, and in his youth was taught to fear the Lord. He continued to walk in the fear of the Lord for many years; but the devourer of souls, who goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy, most readily finds in man an agent to execute his soul-destroying work. So it proved in the case of this young man: he was led to place more confidence in the things of this world, and trust to creature happiness more than in that of the religion of his father's God and the counsel of his mother. This change was brought about by keeping company with an ungodly person (a female), one who called in question human responsibility and the being of the "Eternal One." My friend by degrees began to absent himself from the house of God, and ultimately he forsook it altogether, and in room thereof he adopted the ball-room, the saloon, and the theatre, as his place of resort.
Knowing that he had forsaken the straightforward path of life, I wrote him a letter, wishing to know why his seat was so often empty in the house of worship. I told him he should not keep company with the ungodly nor with profane persons. This he communicated to his ungodly companion, and she took to answer my letter, in which she invited me to discuss with her and prove the being of a God. I then knew that my friend was on the road to ruin. I declined having any interview with an infidel, but wrote my friend one letter after another, requesting him to mind his soul's salvation, and "to work while it was day," &c. But he who was once his friend and companion was now an enemy; he despised and rejected my counsel. At last I got a letter from him; the contents were this: "Sir, write me no more, for I never open your letters; I commit them to the flames when I know who they are from. Look after your own salvation, and I will look after mine when I think proper." Of course I was then obliged to stop all intercourse with him. If he saw me in his way he would turn so as not to meet me; my