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peace, till they have led to some practical results corresponding to their nature and infinite significance.
This fact at once overthrows the unscriptural assertion—that man is not responsible for his belief. For while it is perfectly true that we cannot reasonably be required to believe any testimony without sufficient evidence, yet in cases where evidence can only be perceived by much earnest search and attention, that attention may be either given or withheld. And if it be withheld, where abundant evidence is afforded, the simple cause of the unbelief is want of will to receive the truth-loving darkness rather than light. It was on this principle that our Lord, in the parable of “the Sower of the Seed,” accounted for the continued unbelief of many gospel hearers, namely, their permitting worldly subjects to engross their mind, to the effectual exclusion of the realities of eternity. Thus he said, “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in the heart.” But why does Satan thus eagerly divert the mind of the unawakened from a continuous attention to the gospel ? The answer is given-“ Lest they should believe and be saved.” He knows the vast importance of a continuous earnest consideration of the truth to the salvation of the soul; and hence his ceaseless effort to prevent it. Again ; our Lord exclaimed, “ He also that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word: and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
If, then, multitudes have been, and are now being eternally destroyed through neglecting the great salvation, and having their earnest attention ever and anon withdrawn from eternal things to the passing trifles of a day-an hour-a moment,can I too urgently beseech every reader to flee from this fatal snare ?
Who, for example, can keep his mind, like the young man, from day to day, on the stupendous questions--What is eternity ? and, Where am I going to spend my eternity ? without seeing more and more clearly that this life is but a dream,” a "passing show ?" and without, in some degree, feeling the appeal of the Redeemer, “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
We are all of us on a journey to the world of spirits ; and although we cannot tell when we shall reach its termination, or even declare what is to be on the morrow, yet from the principle of our immortal existence our minds do stretch for
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY, 37, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
ward to the time and eternity which are before us. Before the light of Christianity burst upon the nations, the nature of the soul, and its immortality, were darkened by the dense clouds of superstition. The sad event of death was fearfully dark, and eternity but a dream. Thus, when death closed the eyes of a sufferer, the grave presented to the bereaved mourners but a dismal chasm, from which there was no return -a chasm which appeared to engulph for ever the objects of their fondest solicitude. But how different—how widely different–is our condition, both in regard to privilege and responsibility! How does it illustrate, as by a tremendous contrast, the awful accountability of those living, as we do, under the proclamation of life and immortality which have been brought to light through the gospel ! To us the gates of eternity are thrown open, and we are commanded by God to look in with such a fixed and stedfast gaze, as shall afterwards tinge every object we look at in this world with the colours of eternity. And while we look into the different regions,--the awful termination of our earthly career, -we are commanded to inquire individually, Where am I going? Am I on the road to heaven ? or am I still traversing the path to hell ?
My dear reader, have you so yielded to the love of God, now urgently inviting you to Christ for pardon and peace, that you can joyfully answer with the apostle, “ We know that when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”? Or are you yielding to the fearful delusion that it may be safe to allow the question to lie, for one day, in abeyance ?
Believe me, you cannot possibly gratify your insatiable enemy, and endanger your eternal interests more fully, than by postponing the momentous decision. For what argument, what impressive appeal can then avail you, if you thus refuse to deliberate, earnestly and continuously, on the awful alternative ? But why shrink from it because of the momentary pain or uneasiness of considering your ways and your tremendous danger, when, even apart from the consideration of the wrath to come, your present and eternal happiness is suspended on your fully and fairly meeting the question ? What, I ask, in an analogous case, would you say of a dying man, who, because of the momentary uneasiness of drinking a bitter draught, which he is assured will absolutely heal him, prefers to rush into the agonies of death? But even were there no sword of wrath suspended over you, which at any moment may descend and cut asunder the slender tie which holds you to earthly things, and plunge you into irretrievable ruin, let it be asked, can anything short of immortal blessings satisfy your ever-craving and capacious spirit ?
It may at once be proved, not only from Scripture, but from the evidence of all history, and from all the analogies of living beings, that no intelligent creature can be happy, but where his possessions and expectations correspond to the nature, desires, sympathies, and capacities of his constitution. Now, such are the height and constitutional grandeur of the human soul, that creation, with its endless stores of riches and enjoyments, cannot possibly satisfy it. But even if these could satisfy the mind for awhile, and render the soul happy,--which they cannot do,--they want the stamp of immortality. They bring no assurance to the monarch on his throne that they can be retained an hour. They are only held from moment to moment. In an instant they may be all taken, and the soul as completely left alone, as if the whole world had been burnt up in one vast conflagration. Thus the soul demands, to render it truly happy, a portion, which can now enter and pervade the spirit--a joy that will always be new, fresh, satisfying--a hope full of immortality. In a word, it wants a stream of blessing, that will never cease to flow, in time or in eternity.
But where shall this be found—this bliss for the weary soul ? Ah!
need not seek to ascend to heaven or descend into the deep abyss, to discover and enjoy the treasure. The glad tidings have arrived—the infallible direction to obtain it is at hand. “ If any man thirst,” exclaimed the Redeemer, “ let him come to me and drink. He that believeth on me shall speedily enjoy “rivers of living water.” Come, then, at once to the Redeemer, and implicitly submit to his gracious sceptre, and soon, soon you shall find in your happy experience that this very portion, with its endless blessings, has been freely bestowed upon you, and that it is held forth, without money or price, to every creature, through his precious blood.
One grand end of revelation is to show the bearing i this world on the other; that the entire life of every man is continuous in the sight of God; each part bearing on what follows the present hour on future ages-all time on eternity. It is to show that eternity to man is but the development of time; that an eternity of happiness in heaven is as truly appointed by God to proceed from a previous state of love to Christ on earth, as the ripened field of harvest erer proceeds from the sowing of the same field in spring; and that an eternity of misery in the place of woe is the necessary result or issue of a state of alienation from God.
Here, then, we perceive that the only infallible criterion by which the great question, “Where shall I spend my eternity?" can be solved,-is, the fact of our having or of our not having become supreme lovers of the Redeemer,- of our being or not being regenerated by the grace of the Holy Spirit,—and of our evidencing or our not evidencing both by a perpetual aim to live a life of holiness. For, “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha,”--that is, let be accursed at his coming. And, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see (or, enter] the kingdom of God.” And, “ without holiness," resulting from a knowledge of the Saviour's love in dying for us, “no man shall see the Lord.”
To imagine, therefore, that we shall spend our eternity in heaven while we are now giving no true evidence of supreme love to the Saviour,-manifesting no fruits of the Holy Spirit in our habitual spirit and deportment, is the very essence of self-deception-of a hope which will make us eternally ashamed. And if we have no evidence now that we shall spend our eternity in heaven, then, judging from the past and present, there remaineth nothing for us but the dread expectation of spending that eternity with the devil and his angels. Tremendous conclusion ! Would that every unpardoned reader were led by it to awake from his delusive sleep and flee, while it is called to-day, from the wrath to come!
But, oh! how infinitely happy is he who hath fled, with all his sins,—hardness of heart, and depravity, to the Redeemer, and thus received, through grace, a free pardon, and a well grounded hope of being ever with the Lord. For he feels, amid all his unworthiness, that as surely as he can go boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need, so he can, in some degree, look forward with calm confidence to eternity, and finally enter with joy the unveiled presence of God. True, he is a sinner; he knows and feels it. But he knows, too, the boundless freedom of divine grace. He has received the dawning of eternal life, and he is conscious that divine grace will sustain and animate his soul in the valley and shadow of death, and shine forth without a cloud in eternal glory.
Thus, eternal life, which the gospel reveals, is not merely endless existence in a happy locality, called heaven ; it is not merely deliverance from the dreadful penalty of the second death; but it is the unceasing enjoyment, begun in this life, of the favour, the fellowship, and friendship of God, and of His
Son Jesus Christ. It is a participation of the Spirit—the holiness—the happiness of God. And though the true believer only tastes of this blessedness on earth, yet even this commencement presents to him an earnest and assurance of his eternal dwelling in the presence of God and the Lamb.
How, then, can he envy the men of the world, who have their portion in this life; who, whatever they may enjoy, go down in a moment to destruction ? “ As for me,” he exclaims, with unspeakable gratitude, “I shall behold thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness."
What sinners value I resign
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.