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the sacrifices you would have to make if you
became a follower of Christ, you felt as though you could not then carry out your convictions. But a time was at hand when you would do so. That time came; but it found you less disposed to listen to the claims of God, and again you took refuge in the thought of tomorrow. And you are conscious of the disposition to do so still. You yet say, “Go thy way for this time.”
Very likely, however, it may be said, “But I have had no such experience as that ; for the first time on which I have fixed has yet to come.” We can assure you, then, that the tendency is exactly what has been just represented. An observant eye cannot but have noticed innumerable indications of it; and thousands have confessed, that as age advanced upon them the indisposition to religion increased; and that as each successive period appointed for decision passed, it left the conscience less tender and faithful, till at length no subjects were more unwelcome in their bearing upon themselves than those of salvation and the service of God. The tendency of such postponement of duty, and the stifling of conviction involved in it, is to that state which is described in those appalling words, “past feeling.” There are those who once felt very powerfully, who feel no more. They can listen unmoved to the most solemn warnings and the most affectionate expostulations. It matters not how sweet the accents in which the Saviour's love is unfolded, or how startling the description of the terrors of the Lord: they are unmoved.
As it regards religion, their passions seem extinct. They are like the tree which has been blasted by the lightnings of heaven, and which, though still watered by the fertilizing dews and rains, and still warmed by the radiant sunshine, produces no fruit, but stands with its withered trunk and its leafless branches, a very emblem of desolation and bar
It is worth while asking, too,-Granted that the season proposed will be allowed, and that there will be the expected disposition to avail yourself of it, is it likely it will be found more convenient than this which you are suffering to pass unimproved? You are, we will suppose, just entering on life. What season, then, more appropriate ? The heart is yet tender ; the affections are warm and glowing; the future is all before you, irradiated by the rainbow colours of hope, and you hardly know what disappointment is; the cares and anxieties of life have not begun to harass and distract your mind, and you have all the energies of your youth. Can there be any time so favourable ? Whatever the difficulties which interfere with
decision now, you will most likely find that there will arise greater difficulties, and be required a greater effort of self-denial at any subsequent period of your life. To say the least, the sacrifices demanded will be as great, and the compensation which religion can give you for those sacrifices, will be diminished by all that might have been enjoyed in the years in which her claims were refused. There is a legend in the early history of Rome to the effect, that one of the sybils went to the second Tarquin, bearing in her hand nine books of mystic lore, demanding what was thought an exorbitant price. The offer was refused. She immediately disappeared, destroyed three of the books, and then returned, demanding the same price for the six which she had demanded for the nine. Her offer was again refused. She disappeared again, destroyed other three, and returning with the remainder, demanded her original price; and it was paid. At any time when the service of God is entered upon, the cross which Christ imposes on all his disciples must be assumed; but he who refuses to take up that cross in youth not only deprives himself of all the blessings which religion gives in that season of peculiar temptation and danger, but of all the impulse which early consecration gives to the piety of maturer years.
When is it, we would ask, that the proposed decision is contemplated ? Is it in mature life? It is very true the strength of youthful passion may then be abated; and true that there may be a greater amount of independence and freedom from control, but there are cares and temptations peculiar to that season, .cares and temptations inseparable from the business of life, which those who have encountered them have felt to be even more inimical to religious decision than anything which interfered with that decision in earlier years. Our Lord himself said, in his parable of the sower, “ The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”.
Many, both of the young and the mature, look forward to old age as the time of religious decision ; and often there is not a little romance about the anticipations which are cherished respecting that time. The infirmities of years will press very lightly on the frame; they will have done with the cares and struggles of the world ; and then life's evening will be calmly spent in preparation for eternity. Bat will it be nothing that all the associations of, say fifty or sixty years, are of an adverse character ? And is that likely to be a peculiarly favourable season, when every energy is all but dead, and the frame may be bowed in debility and languor ? Is it not worthy of consideration, too, that the cases of conversion in old age, when the whole life has been spent in the enjoyment of privileges which have been abused, are exceedingly few. God refuses none. The sinner of threescore years would be most freely welcome, even though he had all his life rejected the blessings of salvation : but we have reason to believe that the instances in which God's mercy is sought under such circumstances are comparatively rare.
There is one period to which multitudes look forward as the time when every needful preparation can be made for death and eternity, and that is the time when they will be stretched on the bed of last and fatal sickness. They take for granted that there will be such a season, forgetting that men are sometimes smitten without a moment's warning. They assume that the form of disease which shall precede their removal will be such as to afford them ample opportunity for reflection and prayer ; not dwelling on the possibility of its being such as to preelude a moment's
clear and deliberate thought-the raging fever with its often attendant delirium, or some one of those many
maladies which inflict upon the frame the most racking anguish. And they calculate on being able to listen with earnest attention to the instruction of kind christian friends, and to receive with immediate and implicit faith the glad tidings of salvation, as though there had never been such a spectacle as a death-bed of despair. The writer once visited the sick bed of one who had enjoyed from her youth the highest opportunities of christian instruction. Her parents were pious people; and she had attended a faithful ministry. He will never forget the accents of despairing sorrow with which, when reminded of the greatness of the Divine mercy, she replied, “ I refused to serve God in my health and strength, and He will not have me now!” The poor creature was most mistaken. She limited the compassions of heaven, which are infinite; but the delusion was there, and it effectually prevented her from believing in Christ. It was an impressive comment on the solemn warning of heavenly wisdom“ 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
fear cometh.” We should be sorry to limit the power and grace of Christ, or to affirm the invalidity of a death-bed repentance. Yet there are some considerations which incline us to look on such a repentance with distrust. It has been well remarked, that there is but one instance of salvation in the hour of death recorded in the whole word of God: one, that none might despair ; but one, that none might presume. An excellent clergyman in the town of Leeds, stated, towards the close of his ministry, that
he had visited at least 2,000 persons, who having, in what they deemed the near approach of death, declared their solemn purposes of amendment in the event of their restoration to health, had been mercifully spared; but of the whole 2,000, he had not reason to believe that more than six or ten fulfilled the vows which they had made. Does not such a testimony suggest at least the possibility that many death-bed repentances, which have appeared most satisfactory and sincere, may have been delusive after all? Does it not also address a solemn warning to those who may be disposed to trust to such a repentance, lest theirs should prove delusive too ?
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation !” Mercy invites you now. You can never be more welcome than at this hour. And you need the blessings of the gospel, not only to prepare you for judgment and for heaven, but to make you truly happy here. Resolve, then, that this shall be your convenient season, and that seek, with all your heart, salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hasten, O sinner! to be wise,
And stay not for the morrow's sun;
The harder is she to be won.
And stay not for the morrow's sun,
Before the needful work is done.
Nor let him stay the morrow's sun;
But haste, deserved wrath to shun.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.
A VERY powerful sensation was excited in the metropolis a short time ago, by the mournful intelligence of the sudden death of Lord Viscount Jocelyn, eldest son of the Earl of Roden, and M.P. for King's Lynn. His lordship, who was in the prime of life, only 38 years of age, and, it is also said, a man of vigorous constitution, was attacked with Asiatic cholera, whilst fulfilling his duties at the Tower, on the 11th of August, as colonel of the Essex Rifles. He was immediately removed to the house of his relative, Lord Palmerston, where every possible attention was promptly paid him. The resources of medical skill, however, proved unavailing, and in a few hours he sunk beneath the virulence of the disease. At half-past one on the following morning he was no more.
An event like this—the removal of a nobleman so well known, and so much esteemed, the heir of an earldom, and a member of the legislature of our land, could scarcely fail in any circumstances to arrest much attention. But the manner of his death, occasioned as it was by that terrible scourge, which seems now to be a periodical visitant to our shores, is especially calculated to appeal to all hearts with startling power. It proclaims, with a voice not to be mistaken, that the pestilence is once more in our midst, and it proclaims too that though its ravages have been especially fatal in the haunts of vịce and squalid poverty, there are none, however elevated in social position, who are beyond its reach.
It is not too much to believe that this solemn event has produced deep alarm in many a heart, which has been unmoved ! by previous visitations of the kind; and that it is forced upon
them, as at least a possible thing, that they themselves might be summoned as suddenly into the presence of their Judge.
Beloved reader, this may be the case with you. You are afraid to die. And no wonder, for there is much in death to appaļ the stoutest heart-much from which men have always shrunk back in dismay. That was quite true which Satan said respecting Job, “Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath will he give for his life.” Many a dying man has offered his physician all his fortune, if he could only avert from him the stroke of mortality. Poverty, disgrace, exile, and in short every imaginable evil, have been preferred to dissolution. Who is not conscious of this fear ? Let there be felt the