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city, and until within its walls, he dares not rest. Oh for a cluster of ripe grapes from yonder vineyard ! a draught of cold water from yonder spring, or of milk from yonder flock ! But what is the temporary endurance of thirst and fatigue compared with threatened violent death? He passes on, and vineyard, spring, and fock, are left behind.
The road divides; will he not now be perplexed ? may he not be mistaken as to the course he ought to take? No; without slackening his pace, he but casts his eyes upon the friendly guide-post. One glance is enough. He who runs may read. Thither the direction points ; one word reveals all that the manslayer seeks to know: that word is, “ Refuge.”
The sun is declining. From the walls of the city of refuge the watchman looks across the plain, and looking, his glance of careless and languid indifference is suddenly exchanged for the fixed gaze of newly awakened interest. The pursued and the pursuer, the manslayer and the avenger of blood, are both seen in the distance. Weary, distressed, halting, almost exhausted, the fugitive draws near; with persevering tenacity the avenging follower holds on his course, the glittering weapon, yet unsheathed, in his hand. Nearer and nearer they approach. “Refuge, refuge!
“ Refuge, refuge!” exclaims the panting man, as he attains the lengthened shadow of the city wall. The excited watchman shouts encouragement. One struggle more: the open gateway is reached ; the rescued victim has passed the boundary, and staggering onward a few steps further, sinks fainting with extremity of fatigue. But he is safe. Within those walls the avenger dares not enter. Foiled in his purpose, he slackens his pursuit; and, sheathing his sword, he refers to the appointed tribunal, the inquisition for blood.
Behold, reader, in this escaped manslayer, a picture of the sinner who, burdened with the sense of his guilt and danger, flees “ for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before him," Heb. vi. 18. Conscious of his demerits; stained with crime; convinced of the unswerving and righteous severity of the law he has broken ; and persuaded that the pursuit is already opened upon him, which may end, at any moment, in his eternal and utter ruin ; he perceives the urgent necessity for instant flight. In what direction? Happily for him-happily for all under like conviction—the same source that reveals to him the full amount of his peril, opens also to his terrified soul a way of escape, and warns him to “ flee from the wrath to come.” There is a refuge for the guilty,
hell-deserving soul, more sure and efficacious than were the ancient cities of refuge to the manslayer in Israel. To that refuge he turns. In his flight, and with the full persuasion of imminent danger fastened upon him, the voice of worldly friendships, and the incitements of worldly gratifications, fall unheeded upon
his ear, or present themselves unavailingly to his sight.
He dares not turn aside from the path, nor take off, for one moment, his attention from the object which lies before him. He is fleeing for refuge ; shall he linger while the avenger is in dire pursuit? He is striving for salvation ; shall he be turned aside, to his everlasting undoing?
Onward ! onward ! Justice is on his track; but mercy, refuge, safety, are set before him in the gospel. The way is plain; “ the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein," Isa. xxxv. 8. The directions are short and simple: “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,' Acts xvi. 31. He cannot loiter on the road. Fear and hope alternately urge or attract him forward, until the blessed refuge be attained. At length he reaches it. Exhausted, by long and painful spiritual travel, as he may be, he yet reaches it. He enters it, and is safe. Justice no longer pursues. 66 There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” “Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” Rom. viii. 1; Psa. Ixxxv.
Reader, have you thus fled for refuge? Be assured, if you have not, that it is no imaginary danger to the full knowledge of which you are called to arouse yourself, and from which you are now entreated to flee. The peril in which the manslayer of old was placed by his involuntary homicide, is insignificant compared with the tremendous danger which threatens you. Guilty of innumerable breaches of the Divine law, the smallest infraction of which delivers you into the power of Divine justice, and writes against you the sentence of eternal death-how can you escape the Omnipotent Avenger?
Blessed be God, there is an Omnipotent Saviour, willing and waiting to deliver from wrath. The motive for his mercy, and the mode of its accomplishment, are revealed in the gospel; and there he bids you come unto him that you may have life eternal life.
As the city of refuge in Israel, so the Son of God and the Redeemer of men (glorious combination!) is available to all who seek shelter from the pursuit of offended justice. With the cities of refuge, however, the sheltered man was safe only while within the walls, Num. xxxv., Josh. xx. But with confidence stronger than the acquitted manslayers could ever attain, pardoned sinners may say—“I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
or things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Rom. viii. 38, 39.
Reader, as you are a sinner, seek the grace of the Holy Spirit to flee for refuge to Christ: as your danger is most imminent, be persuaded to lose no time in your flight: while, as God is true, be encouraged to believe that “ him that cometh” shall “ in no wise be cast out,” John vi. 37.
SPARE IT THIS YEAR. A LOVELY female, of seventeen years, lay sick, and apparently sinking into the grave, on the last day of 1824. The skill of physicians had been baffled; the tenderest maternal nursing was fruitless; the care and anxiety of a fond father of no avail. IIer mother had hoped against hope, till despair of her child's recovery had settled on her heart. She tried to exercise entire submission to God's righteous will, but the fact that her daughter was not a Christian, and was dying without hope, was agony to her maternal heart. She had spent this last day of the year in supplication and strong cries to God, for his merciful interposition in her daughter's case. Her confidence in the rectitude of God's government was unshaken ; it was an anchor to her soul, and enabled her with apparent composure to perform all the duties required of her in those painful hours. But we must not attempt to reveal the feelings which were so carefully concealed in the silent sanctuary of a mother's bosom. They are too sacred for our intrusion, and will only be known, with their results, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, by Him who 6 derstandeth the thoughts afar off."
The day passed away, the sun set in clouds, and a cold, stormy night succeeded. The family retired, and the mother, after making her sick child as comfortable as she could, sat
. down, a lone watcher at her bedside. The fire sent up its fitful' light upon the intelligent features of the daughter, whose face was nearly as white as the pillow on which it
rested. The storm moaned fearfully without, as if in sympathy with the passing scenes within. The mother, suppressing her own emotions, was trying to decipher those of her daughter, by the variations in her agitated countenance, when she broke the silence, by saying, “Dear mother, how can I die in my present unrenewed state? Oh, pray for me, dearest mother, that I may live to give you comforting evidence of having been born again, and adopted into the family of Christ. God grant me this, and I ask no more below.” The mother responded to the prayer, and kneeled by her bedside, to give utterance to the desires of her full heart.
After prayer, the daughter sank into that heavy, painful sleep, so often attendant on debility and exhaustion, and her mother took up the Bible, as the great source of light and consolation, as well as the medium of communication between God and his people. The first words that met her eye were, “ Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ? She paused to think and weep. “My child,” she thought, “ has lived seventeen years, and received much religious instruction; her mind is well stored with religious truth ; few youth have committed such large portions of Scripture to memory; well may the Lord demand fruit from such a tree! It is his due. He has come again and again by his Spirit, by sickness, by faithful admonition, seeking fruit and finding none; justice cries, Cut it down. What can a mother object to the execution of this justice?” “Spare it this year,” said the parable ; Oh, spare it this year, cried the yearnings of maternal love; spare it this year: I will try to cultivate it better. No, she replied to herself, I can do nothing; Christ must be the great Intercessor; for him the Father heareth. If he intercede, Spare it this year, the work will be done.
Thus passed that long December night. The dawn of 1825 found that mother still pleading with her Saviour and her God. After breakfast her pastor called. As he met the mother, he said, “ How is poor J. this morning ?” From the overflowings of her full heart, the mother exclaimed, “Spare it this year.” Her pastor understood and appreciated her emotions; and on his bended knees before God, in that sick room, went over the truths of the parable; acknowledged the justice of God's claims ; his right to cut down the tree, but pleaded the language of the parable,“ Spare it this year.' The plea was heard : during that very day, the dangerous symptoms abated. The sick daughter gradually recovered. As the spring opened, she gained strength and elasticity.
In the month of May, a revival of religion commenced among the people of the place; a great number of all ages became hopeful subjects of grace, among whom was this spared daughter, led to Christ by that very pastor. In October of that year, she, with many others, took upon herself the vows of the Lord, by a public profession of religion. This young lady was spared till 1836, when she peacefully and joyfully entered “ the rest that remains for the people of God," having given the best evidence, by a holy, useful life, of having been adopted into the family of Christ.
THE CHRISTIAN AND THE TURK. A GREAT many years ago, when the Turks ravaged the south of Europe, and threatened to conquer Germany, a young and noble Christian, who had fought bravely against these enemies of his country and his religion, was taken prisoner by them, and carried captive to Belgrade, of which fortress they had then possession.
The governor, knowing that his prisoner was a brave and good officer, offered him rewards and honours if he would turn Mohammedan : 66 Forsake Christ !" cried the noble youth; “I would not desert my earthly king to be made your sultan; think you, then, I would desert the Lord of heaven who died for me, to embrace your false faith ? not if I were to be flayed alive.”
“ Ha !” said the governor, you speak proudly, young man. Perhaps this spirit may yet be brought down.”
“ I speak not from pride, but from faith,” the other replied; 6 the faith which Christ gave, and Christ will maintain: the religion of Christ is humble, but it is firm.”
6 We will try if it cannot be shaken,” said the governor: and he kept this resolution.
Every cruelty almost that could be threatened or practised, he made use of to persecute his prisoner into an apostasy from his faith ; and he continued meanwhile to converse with him, and offer him inducements to embrace the religion of Mohammed, the false prophet.
“ Rather,” said the Christian officer, “ do you turn to that of Christ; for in his faith alone there is salvation, and his doctrine and precepts are true, and pure, and holy.”
Finally, the Turk imbibed a most bitter hatred against this noble Christian ; he hated the truth he heard from him, as