« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
that is only a new stage in its eternal progress !
For the Word of God emphatically proclaims not only our immortality, but that whatever be the effect of infancy on childhood -- of childhood on youth – of youth on manhood --that the effect of the whole together on eternity is incalculably greater. That word most fully assures us, that a lost, a neglected, an unsanctified life, never can be recovered in eternity; that at death all the hopes and comforts, the prospects and enjoyments of the unbeliever are cut up, root and branch ; and that he passes into eternity not only destitute of preparation, but as if all his life had been spent in preparing for its darkest, blackest allotments. With every hope blighted, every good resolution (as it is termed) unfulfilled, he then enters the world of spirits, into a naked, wretched existence,strengthened in habits and principles which are doomed through eternity to perpetual disappointment.---while he neither possesses the power, the inclination, nor the opportunity to be deprived of them. The only remedy which could have removed themthe glorious gospel—having been habitually-systematically refused or neglected; and the day of grace being past, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. Seeing, then, the awful uncertainty of life--the bearing of every stage on the following one, and the whole together on eternity-of what infinite importance is it to commence our preparation now, with the earliest dawnings,—that from this very day we may be travellers to the heavenly Canaan—to the rivers of pleasure which are at God's right hand for evermore !
But what is the great hindrance with too many to this first start for eternal glory? It is deep, practical ignorance of their native corruption and of the utter worthlessness and guilt of their past life. They do not believe in the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of their hearts, and that they are righteously exposed to the fearful curse of God's holy law. Hence they feel little need of the Saviour. For the whole have no need of a physician, but they who are sick. How dreadful is your case, O unpardoned reader !-every day, every hour, you are borne onwards by the inward current of sin--further and
further from God-nearer and nearer to destruction, by the very nature of cherished sin, which, by a fearful gravitation, hurries its victims to its centre in the place of woe.
Your path may appear flowery by day, and an ignis fatuus may lure you on by night—but the deep pit waits your approach--every moment brings you nearer to the endless gulf.
Now before you will truly come to the Saviour to be saved from sin, as well as destruction, you must be convinced of your lost, corrupt, and ruined state by nature: for though you may have been, like Nicodemus, outwardly correct in the sight of man, yet you require a change in regard to your principles and motives, as great as if your whole being were dissolved to its very elements and entirely reconstructed. “ Ye must be born again," through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Believe it —all that has sprung from your heart since you were born has been only sin,—though it may have often been in such a modified form as to have escaped your own observation, or that of others around you. You must, if you would be saved, start afresh from the cross of Christ, and date your true existence throughout eternity, not from your first, but your second birth through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh do not dream that outward reformation will avail before that God who looketh on the heart. For while the root of the tree is poisonous, so must of necessity be the branches and the fruit. But when the soul is united to the Redeemer by the power of the Holy Spirit, through faith in his blood, and the branch is thus grafted into the true vine, Jesus Christ (John xv. ver 1), then from that eternal root it draws up strength and nourishment to bring forth fruit unto God. No sooner, then, is any one convinced of the necessity of this great and radical change of heart, through the Lord Jesus, ere he can enter heaven ; and that no human merit, no efforts of his own, can possibly take away a single sin; than he hastens to the Redeemer to receive a free pardon, through his atoning blood, and the renewing energy of the Holy Spirit. Then shall he be enabled to exclaim, to the glory of God, “Whereas I was blind, now I see; whereas I was dead in trespasses and sins, now I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me; whereas I was under the influence of self, and lived according to the course of this world; now the love of Christ constraineth me, because I thus judge that if one died for all, then were all dead. And he died for all, that they who live should not live to themselves - but to Him that died for them, and rose again.”
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins,
Lose all their guilty stains.
That fountain in his day ;
Washed all my sins away. But though the believer in Christ has started on his new course to eternity-he is yet far from being out of danger. Full many are his temptations to lag in his glorious career-to be hindered by comparative trifles--to be drawn aside after the momentary illusions of life. Hence the necessity for repeated afflictive providences to proclaim to him again and again“ Arise, and depart--for this is not your rest." And now, surely, the commencement of a new year—it may be his last on earth-calls loudly to every Christian to start afresh in his heavenly course-to forget the things behind, and press toward the immortal prize ;-while it reiterates the apostolic warning—“knowing the time--its brevity—its awful value in relation to eternity,--it is high time to awake out of sleepfor now is our salvation nearer than when we believed."
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, London.
Two cases of comparatively early death 'recently occurred within the sphere of the writer's observation, so widely different not only in the circumstances under which they occurred, but also in the manner in which they were regarded by survivors, that the contrast itself produced a very powerful impression on his mind. They resided in the same city, and in the same street of that city; they attended-one of them, it is true, but rarely—the same Christian sanctuary; and they lie buried in the same churchyard.
One of them was a young man of good connections and fair prospects, but he had formed habits and associations which ultimately led to his ruin. Notwithstanding the attractions of a pleasant home, and the claims of an amiable wife, and a rising family, he still prosecuted his career of vice. It was hoped that a change of residence, separating him from old and evil companionships, might do much to effect a reformation ; but he soon found associates of a kindred spirit, and there was no amendment. His extravagance requiring larger supplies than were furnished by his income, he was tempted to acts of dishonesty; and to evade the consequences of detection, which he saw to be inevitable, he lifted up against himself the hand of the suicide, and rushed unbidden into the presence of his Judge. The event caused at the time a powerful sensation, and of course the shock was felt most severely in his own household. Yet it was very obvious that even there the feeling of real loss was extremely slight. He had done so little to inspire confidence and love, and so much to produce far different feelings, that affection, which is proverbially so tenacious, could scarcely desire his return. Calm reflection said it was better the wife should be a widow, and the children fatherless, than that they should have a husband and a father whose whole life was one continued violation of domestic duties, and whose influence was only evil. At all events, beyond the circle of his own immediate friends, who would naturally deplore the disappointment of their hope of better things, there were none to feel that his removal was a loss. Like Jehoram, he departed withont being desired."
The other case was that of a young female in the middle class of society, who, though gifted with no extraordinary abilities, was distinguished for high moral excellence. She was one of those characters that command universal respect, and to whomeven people who have no love for the gospel are willing to render praise--a beautiful exemplification of the power of true religion. Her demeanour was marked by a uniform
propriety, a subdued yet cheerful seriousness, a kindly consideration for the feelings of others, an unfailing readiness to oblige and serve, and, above all, by a matured and elevated Christian piety. From her childhood she was actuated by a strong sense of duty. Any one who knew her was soon made aware that regard to duty, even in the smallest things, was a leading feature of her character. This principle grew with her growth, till, through the grace of God, what might, in her case, be almost reckoned a natural, became a Christian principle, elevated by enlarged and scriptural views, and actuated by the noblest motives. Her whole life was the life of one who lived in habitual communion with heaven. Though, from the pressure of domestic claims, she might have pleaded exemption from any laborious endeavours after Christian usefulness, she was present in such labours of love. The inhabitants of the district in which she lived welcomed most gladly her periodical visits as she bore from house to house the religious tract. But it was in the sabbath school that she was best known as an earnest, faithful labourer for Christ. Though never robust, and though the
way from her dwelling to the school was, in stormy weather, much exposed, she was seldom absent from her post, indeed never, except when positively unable to attend. She was often found in her place when her state of health would have furnished a sufficient plea for remaining at home. Many a heart will cherish, as long as life lasts, the remembrance of her kind and gentle teachings, and regard those teachings as amongst the most powerful influences by which they were led to Christ. The writer can recall none to whom that commendation of our Lord might be more justly applied, “ She hath done what she could.” Her end was premature. It was still the morning of her life when “her sun went down.” Her departure was a scene of perfect peace. There were no expressions of rapture, no shouts of triumph, but a sweet, uncomplaining resignation, and a spirit of calm dependence on the promises and grace of Christ. Her death was one of those scenes respecting which spectators almost involuntarily exclaim, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” She was borne to the grave amidst the sincere regrets of