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religious character, as in the case just narrated,—are the first to retire into their chambers alone, and there, in the presence of the heart-searching Redeemer, exclaim, “Lord, is it I?” So far from shrinking from this scrutiny, they are not unfrequently tempted to be too fearful of themselves, even when growing in grace; arising from the deep consciousness of their manifold infirmities and shortcomings. They realize the infinite importance of their eternal salvation being secured,—of having their hopes of everlasting glory not based on a peradventure,—but founded on the Rock of ages ;-so that when the floods come, and the storms beat upon their superstructure, it may stand immoveable because founded on a rock. They cannot rest in uncertainties ;--they must be more and more assured they are on that rock. While, on the other hand, mere nominal Christians, whose hopes, like “ the foolish virgins," are built upon the sand, do not want to be “searched,” and “ tried,” in regard to the foundation of their confidence. They trust to slight evidence-or, rather, no Scripture evidence at all—of a vital change in their principles; and never discover (except by a miracle of grace, so to speak, such as in the above instance) till they have passed the confines of eternity, that from first to last of their christian profession they were building their house on the mere surface of earthly motives and selfish hopes ; --that they never were truly reconciled to God through believing the gospel ;-never had renounced the friendship of the world for that of the Redeemer ;-never received his Holy Spirit, in his sanctifying power, as an earnestof heaven ;—nor ever realized the existence in the soul of constraining love to the Redeemer, for his infinite goodness in dying for them, as a new principle of holy life- -a new fountain of motives, of joy, and of strength! And oh! how fearful such a discovery, when it is too late ; when the summer of privileges is for ever past ;—the time of the harvest, the day of salvation, is for ever over and gone, and they—not saved! How dreadful to enter eternity, not only as destitute of direct preparation as if they had removed thither the moment after their birth, but as if all their life had been spent in preparing for its darkest allotments! How fearful to have at once every hope blighted, and every promise of good unfulfilled ;-to appear in the presence of a rejected Saviour, not to be welcomed to glory, but to hear, in sounds more awful than the loudest thunder,—“Depart from me [notwithstanding all your knowledge, works, professions], I never knew you [as my friends] ye workers of iniquity.”
Reader ! again I ask, in all affectionate solicitude, may not this be your danger at the very moment you are perusing
these lines? If you then admit it may
and to ponder your awful condition, while you dismiss the subject speedily from your mind, are you not affording undeniable evidence that you are amongst the nuinber of the self-deceived ? Beware lest “He take thee away with his stroke: for then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.”
These lines may indeed be read by some young Christians whose tender consciences and humility of mind may awaken distressing alarm, lest they be also self-deceived,—lest they also be building their hopes “on the sand,” that is, on something in themselves, or in their past history,--and not altogether in Christ. For it is impossible to seek to awake the self-deceived to their tremendous danger—without alarming for the time some whose hearts nevertheless may be “right with God.” Let me address myself to such for a moment.
My dear young friends, let me affectionately point you to the best
way of obtaining relief from this alarm ;-by which you may indeed obtain a greater blessing from above than ever before,-a deeper confidence in Christ,-more certainty that you are really Christians,—and a lasting benefit to your immortal souls. If you, then, would advance in the divine life, you will not suddenly stifle the fear that you are self-deceived ;-you will not stand debating the matter, summoning to your recollection all your christian graces, and casting into the shade your sins, infirmities, and shortcomings;- you will not flee, as many do, for comfort to the often uncertain ground of past experience, or what are termed "evidences;”—but, on the contrary, admitting for the moment that you may have good reason to be alarmed, you will hasten again to Jesus, not as Christians who have good evidence of their discipleship, but as sinners,—nothing but sinners,—exclaiming,
“Nothing in my hand I bring;
Simply to thy cross I cling.' You will then acknowledge your guilt, as if you had never done it before ;—you will dedicate yourselves afresh to his service and glory ;-thank him for his boundless love to you, his long-suffering goodness, and for the gift of his beloved Son to die for your sins, and to be to you a fountain of peace, joy, and strength :—you will ask the forgiveness of your sins, through his precious blood, and the outpouring of his Spirit to enlighten, gladden, and sanctify your souls ;-and above all, you will not leave the “ throne of grace" in a doubting, uncertain state of mind; but, assured of the truth of God's gracious promises, you will not rest—will not leave the hallowed ground, till you firmly believe that he has graciously heard your prayers, and rise up in the calm confidence that you shall thenceforward enjoy-according to his never failing word, the blessings you have thus implored. Thus the issue of your temporary anxiety will be an abundant increase of divine blessing, and a considerable advance in the divine life~in the knowledge, love, and peace of God. You will then realise the vast importance of encamping, so to speak, near Calvary; so that at all times, and especially under conviction of sin, you may clearly behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of / the world. Thus, constrained by his amazing love, and depending upon his gracious aid, you will live more and more to Him who died for
and rose again. But on the other hand—where shall they appear, when Christ comes in the clouds of heaven-who are Self-DECEIVERS-trusting, it may be, to their supposed excellencies of character ;-their imagined intrinsic superiority to other men,or to any works or religious observances which they have ever accomplished ? The light of eternity will at once destroy all delusive hopes and vain pretensions to godliness ;--and present the counterfeit christian professor at that awful moment, like base coin,—which has indeed the image and superscription of Majesty on it, and has for a time imposed on many superficial observers ;—but now, being thrown into the fire, quickly betrays the tinselled forgery and its own intrinsic worthless
So does he, after passing through the article of death —now discover his true character just as he before appeared in God's sight! No language could more emphatically describe the feelings, with which such shall be regarded, than the brief description of the prophet Daniel—they shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt !
How infinitely better is it to discover one's true spiritual character now be the discovery ever so painful ; ---seeing there is a remedy at hand. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin! What question-what subject on earth—did it ever so much affect the prosperity of civil society-should take the precedence for a moment of the one, which shall absorb our minds, when we enter the world of spirits ?- Are we proving in the presence of God-angels-men-by the fruits of holiness in heart and life, – that we are actually reconciled to God-born again of His Spirit-cleansed from the love and power of sin through faith in the blood of the Redeemer ?
Happy--thrice happy he-who, convinced of his guilt and wretchedness—betakes himself at once in confidence, and just as he is, to the unbounded love of God, the grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ. For he shall receive forthwith the forgiveness of his sins and enjoy the peace which passeth all understanding. Then shall he joyfully walk abroad fearing no evil, cross the confines of eternity with triumph, stand with boldness before the GREAT White Throne--and finally enter, with the purified army of the Captain of his salvation, into the realms of everlasting peace.
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.
TOWARDS the close of the long vacation of 1824, the late J. E-, Esq., excited deep solicitude among his friends. Indications of a fatal disease threatened to cut short the professional career upon which he shortly before had entered, with prospects more than usually promising. His physicians advised a residence in Barbadoes, at least during the then forthcoming winter months. To escape an English climate, arrangements were made for his immediate departure. His sister, medical attendant, and servant, accompanied him. They left London for Falmouth, where they arrived, after twice or thrice pausing on the road for the sake of the invalid. Having engaged their passage, they waited orders from the Post Office authorities (for the packet establishment was at this time attached to that department of the public service) for the vessel to proceed with the monthly West India mails. Taking up their temporary
abode at the Green Bank Hotel, the barrister found the repose necessary prior to the voyage.
The first Lord's day came. It was damp: a slow, close, thin rain soddened the pathway into the town, and rendered a lengthened walk undesirable, if not, indeed, hazardous. At the end of the terrace connecting the hotel with the town stood the municipal prison, and in immediate proximity, a house of prayer,
the same, or occupying the same site, as that which the pious Doddridge attended, while he waited the departure of the packet for Lisbon, whither he, too, was about to repair in quest of health, but where, instead, be found a grave. Into this house of prayer they entered. The medical attendant walked first; then came the tall, intelligent barrister, over whose head his devoted sister had thrown her shawl, to shelter him from the danger of a too sudden change of atmosphere.
The sermon was preached from the words of the apostle Paul, “ Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," Rom. ii. 24.
As the minister was retiring, the door-keeper said to him, « The gentleman with the shawl over his head wished me to tell you, sir, that he would be obliged if you will call on him at the Green Bank Hotel as soon as you can."
The next morning brought an interview, and led to the interchange of sentiment and sympathy peculiar in character, and pleasing in its result. Leaving the little circle by whom he was surrounded, the barrister conducted the minister into his chamber. “ Let me first thank you, sir, for this kind compliance with my request, and especially for the sermon of yesterday morning.” “I trust," said the minister, “the subject