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JOHN xi. 26.
I would not dwell upon the particular force or meaning of this passage, as referring to the sorrowing family of Bethany; but, with the help of the Holy Spirit, would apply it to the mind and conscience of my reader, as a sentence pregnant with meaning, and worthy of devout attention.
“ Believest thou this ?”
Let me make my way among the masses of intelligent beings that form human society in England. Let me gain admission into the palace of the sovereign, the hall of the noble, and the counting house of the merchant. Let me step into the drawing room of Belgrave Square, and the parlour of the great Metropolis. Shall I stop here ? No. Let me penetrate into the room of the mechanic, and the haunt of poverly ; wherever immortal souls are found I would put the question that fell upon the ear of Martha, “ Believest thou this ?”
Man of dissipation, rioting in excess, and careless of eternity, for whom a mother's prayers have ascended to heaven, and for whose success a father has fondly hoped, did you ever ponder over the words of wisdom, addressed to such as you by the wisest man of old ? “ Ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh.”
« Believest thou this?”
Oh ! if the remembrance of early years has not been quite effaced by the folly of manhood, and you are still willing to admit that Christianity stands incontrovertibly on its own evidences, let me press home on your conscience an inspired warning which may save you years of bitterness, and perchance, through God's grace, preserve you from eternal sorrow : “ He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul : all they that hate me love death." « The drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags." “ Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” 6 Believest thou this?"
Oh! do not, for the sake of a few years of guilty enjoyment, sink your soul in eternal perdition. “ Fools make a mock at sin;" but be assured the time will come when sin will make a mock at fools. If it be folly to play on the brink of a precipice, it must be madness to sport within a footstep of hell ! By the value of your immortal soul, and the preciousness of that inheritance which may be yours for ever, I beseech you “ be you reconciled to God,” and “flee from the wrath to
“ The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." “ Believest thou this?”
Man of business, engrossed by the pursuit of uncertain riches, stor on the threshold of the Exchange !
“ What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?” “ Believest thou this ?” Wealth can procure luxuries, purchase estates, and command homage. You can receive nobles to your table, and bring the high and mighty to your feet; but, I ask, can you purchase the humblest place in heaven ? “ What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” “ Beliercst thou this?”.
Think of a dying hour, when, gasping for breath, you may exclaim, with the expiring Elizabeth, “ Millions of money for an inch of time !”
Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal : but lay up for yourself treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”
“We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing
“ Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” 66 Believest thou this?"
Man of rank, can you boast of an ancient title, and point to the portraits of those who in past centuries bave made your name famous in the world ? Remember the answer of Diogenes, when Alexander found him in the charnel house, “ I am seeking for your father's bones, and those of my slaves ; but I cannot find them, because there is no difference between them.”
Oh! how the petty distinctions that separate man from man crumble away beneath the touch of death! He who wears a coronet to-day may be meaner than yonder beggar to-morrow. There is a voice from every sepulchre that should reach your heart, and bid you gain a more enduring title. Oh! see to it. The day is coming when the thought of ancestral greatness
*1 Tim. vi. 7.
will afford you no comfort; when the recollection of such baubles will only increase your despair. “ Seek ye the kingdom of God and his righteousness" lest erewhile it be too late. “ Believest thou this ?”
Man of ambition, panting for praise and thirsting for renown, be wise in time. Constantine the Great, to reclaim a miser, took a lance, and marking out a space of ground of the size of a human body, said to him, “Add heap to heap of accumulated riches, extend the bounds of your possessions, conquer the whole world, and in a few days such a spot as this will hold all
say you to such a naked truth? Where may you be in a few years—a few days—a few hoursaye, a few moments ? Even before the God who made you, and will judge you with a righteous sentence. Cast down, then, that proud eye, so long fixed upon yon dazzling height. “ Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live."
Where would all your, bright dreams be, if death should meet you this night ? How can you tell that he will not? Then be ready for him. Follow no longer the phantom of earthly distinction, but press on to an inheritance which fadeth not away, remembering the exhortation, “ If any man seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” Man of ambition, “ Believest thou this ?"
Man of politics ; you are striving for a seat in parliament ? I ask you how stands your “ election of God” for the “ house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ?” Turn, I beseech you, from the voting register to the inquiry, “ Is my name down in the book of God's remembrance as “a good and and faithful servant ?” I ask you, What will be the worth of a seat in the Commons' House of England, if you lose that seat upon your Redeemer's right hand, which “shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”
Think not I mean that Christian men should not mingle in the political arena. I would desire to see at the head of public affairs men of piety and zeal for God; but I caution the believer against the snares which beset the statesman's life, and bid him remember the words of a wise and good man, “ We are burning the Lord's candles ; are we doing the Lord's work ?” The Christian only can regard the politics of a kingdom, so far as they affect the kingdom of his Lord and Master. A Wilberforce and a Buxton can surrender the ease and happiness of domestic life that the poor slave may go free; but these good men were more than politicians, they were men of prayer, and, like Daniel presiding over
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
his 120 provinces, they sought the God of all grace in daily supplication.
Man of politics, hold cheaply the honours that await parliamentary success. “ The House" may applaud your oratory, and “ The Times” record your speech ; but take heed lest the day come when your tongue, so voluble with words on which listening senates may have hung enraptured, shall be “speechless," and you, so long fed and flattered by earthly distinction, shall receive a dismissal from the courts of heaven, in the words, “I never knew you.” Let me press upon you the question, “ Believest thou this ??”
Woman of pleasure, did you ever think that the day will come when your eyes shall no longer gaze in rapture at the pageant of the theatre, when that form shall no longer add beauty to the glittering ball room? Perhaps in the solitude of
your chamber the thought has crossed your mind that a life of gaiety cannot last for ever; and, it may be, the death of one as young as yourself has preached to your conscience a passing sermon. Trust not your happiness, I beseech you, to seasons of excitement. Choose pleasures which, in the words of John Howard, are not affected by“ heres and theres,” and gather wisdom from the disappointments you have felt, or your last hour may find you without a hope to rest on. Dreadful condition! With so much beauty, so much life, so much to win, so much to love, and yet with nothing that can save from eternal destruction. Look higher! Pant not for the fashionable circle, or for the place where “the strange woman lieth in wait at every corner,"—the haunt of vice and impurity from which woman's modesty may well shrink,—that which numbers among its daily victims thousands who are the pride of the nation, and might be the glory of the church ; seek rather to love and serve him “in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore." “ Believest thou this ?”
Christian professor, through God's mercy you have been richly blessed. You are seen in your pew every sabbath day, and are the priest of your own household.
Your name is on many a charitable list, and the world calls you “a religious man. How is it with your temper, your honesty, your conduct toward others, your conversation ? “ Woe be to that man by whom the offence cometh." Oh ! how the gospel is hindered by its own professed friends. It has been said “ Temper is nine-tenths of Christianity;" but how sadly do professed believers impede the progress of Christ's religion, by manifesting a spirit directly opposite to that of its gracious Founder. Un