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“death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”Let us, in these and all other cases, connected with the joyful event referred to in the text, use all the means we can, and pray fervently for a blessing on every attempt made by others, as well as by ourselves, all over the world. Let us expect to receive answers to our prayers, and stand prepared to bless and praise God, whenever we hear of sinners brought to repentance, and of the success of that cause, for which Christ Jesus came into the world and shed his blood upon the cross.
Brethren, you have heard many things concerning the love of Christ to sinners, in general, and to repenting sinners in particular; and of his unspeakable condescension, compassion, and loving kindness : but do not on this ground conclude that he cannot, or will not punish. “Despisest " thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, “ and long suffering, not knowing that the good
ness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? but, “ after thy hardness and impenitent heart, trea“ surest up unto thyself wrath against the day of « wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment “ of God; who shall render to every one accord“ing to his deeds ?” _Notwithstanding the inexpressible love of Christ, he will at length “be “ revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, “ in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that “ know not God, and that obey not his gospel ; “who shall be punished with everlasting destruc“ tion from his presence.” “How shall we then
escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?" They, who are emboldened by the grace of the gospel
to continue impenitent, will perish with the most aggravated condemnation.
“ Seek the Lord,” therefore, “while he may be found; call upon him “ while he is near:” and beware of trusting in any transient impressions, which leave no abiding effect on your general temper and conduct ; for no persons are more hopeless in their impenitence, than they who groundlessly think that they have repented. Yet be thankful for any degree of feeling, any disposition to relent and submit to God: but give diligence, and exercise watchfülness, that these convictions may be rendered deeper, and made more effectual in producing “ works meet for repentance."
We, who cannot see the heart, must encourage whatever appears right: but you should look to God to search and examine you, that you may become acquainted with yourselves, and not be deceived by a repentance which must eventually be repented of. Take care, in this view, of every scheme which tends to reconcile religion with conformity to the world, and of all smooth and soothing ways of stating the great truths of Christianity. Whatever your conscience declares should be broken off, given up, or attended to; obey its dictates promptly and implicitly. And in this way, no doubt, you will be led forward to establishment in the faith and hope of the gospel.
If any have had impressions that have subsided, without producing a real change, they must begin all over again. And, here no particular directions seem needful, except not to yield to the discouraging thought that it is now too late. Still, still it is said, “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden “not your hearts.” “Behold now is the accepted "time; behold now is the day of salvation.” And still Christ
“ Him that cometh unto me, I “ will in no wise cast out."
But, above all, beware of further procrastination. None can say, “what shall be on the morrow.” “ The Master of the house may have risen up and “shut the door;" and then it will be as vain to
stand without, and to say, Lord, open to us," as it was for the inhabitants of the old world, to seek admission into the long-despised ark of Noah, when the days of the Lord's long-suffering were ended. Nay it is impossible to say, whether, even if life be prolonged, God may not be provoked to give you up to final obduracy, and to “swear in his wrath “ that you shall not enter into his rest.”—In any view of the subject, if not now truly penitent, and seeking diligently salvation through Christ our Lord; you have reason to fear lest he should at last address you with these tremendous words : “Because I called, and ye refused, I 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 your fear cometh. When your “ fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction “cometh as a whirlwind; when distress' and
anguish come upon you ; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.”
« Then “ will I profess unto them, I never knew you ; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Oh! my fellow-sinners, such of you as have been favoured with manifold advantages, and have
at times seemed disposed to profit by them; if you should at last die in your sins, what an account will you have to give! What a meeting will you have, even with those who have spoken to you the word of God, and“ watched for your souls ;" who have faithfully and affectionately warned you, and earnestly persuaded you, by the love of Christ, and by “the terror of the Lord,” “not to refuse “ him that speaketh," not “to neglect so great sal“ vation !” “ It would have been better for “to have known the
way of righteousness, than to “ turn” at last “from the holy commandment de« livered unto you."
Again let me intreat you to reverence your consciences; and venture not to go on in any thing concerning which your own heart condemns you ; for “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth “all things.” “Submit yourselves therefore to “ God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from
you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh “ to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and “purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Be “ afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laugh“ ter be turned into mourning, and your joy into “ heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of “God, and he shall lift you up.” Then will the gracious Saviour say of you to his friends and servants, “ Rejoice with me; for I have found
my “sheep, which was lost :” and you also shall ere long share the joy.
Let me then conclude by again reminding you of the words of Christ, “ Him that cometh unto me,
I will in no wise cast out.” Imitate him,
who of old cried with tears, “Lord, I believe, belp “ thou mine unbelief;" and your sorrow shall in due time be “ turned into joy." And may God of his infinite mercy, grant that all present may be found among those, over whom Christians and Ministers rejoice; over whom Christ rejoices ; and who shall rejoice with him, and in his love and
presence, to all eternity! Amen.