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spared, which is very uncertain, can he better do this, when he is distracted with the increasing cares and snares of business, and become less tender in his conscience, and more hardened in his habits? And will God accept only the refuse and the impotent of his sacrifices and his affections, as his offering? And do you think, that God will wait for you, and continue waiting, until you choose to take time, and then forgive you? Dare not to trespass upon the long-suffering of God. He that lives in sin, will die in sorrow. Do not resolve to sin now, and to repent hereafter. Do you know how long you will live? Do you know, whether you may not die in the very act of sin? Will you not by delay render your heart more incapable of repenting? by growing more in love with sin, by remembering its pleasures, and serving it once more, and losing one degree more of the liberty of your spirit?" And if pleasant now, will it not be pleasant to sin next week, and next week after that, and so on? And still you intend to repent, when the sin can no longer please. And the longer you indulge in it, the sweeter you will taste it. And this is but saying, that when I become more enamoured of sin, I will then discard it. What presumption, what folly, what madness!
name no time but Remember now thy To-day, if ye will
What say the Scriptures? They to-day. Now is the accepted time. Creator in the days of thy youth. hear his voice, harden not your hearts. God now commandeth all men, every where, to repent. Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call ye upon him, while he is near. Despise not the riches of the goodness and forbearance of God. Let the goodness of God lead thee to repentance. Quench not the Spirit. Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God. Repent ye, and believe the gospel. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. Except ye repent, ye shall all perish. Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.
Redeem then the time. Even he, who delays until middle age, will find many inconveniences; many infirmi→ ties to strengthen, much remaining pride to quell, many
encroachments of temptations and intemperancies, much indevotion and lukewarmness in religion; in short, he will be likely to become a very imperfect Christian. Repentance and reformation are not the work of an hour. They require a whole life, and a long life, to perform them well. It takes time and nurture, to grow up into the fulness of the stature of the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He that repents to-day, repents late enough that he did not begin yesterday. God may depart, and withdraw his aid. We may beg oil for our lamps, and be refused. The night may be at hand, and we be not saved. He only can die with composure, who has long stood waiting, with his loins girded, ready for departure.
5. Hence we learn, how ruinous it is, to defer repentance, and conversion from sin, until we are at leisure in a sick chamber, or have done with the world by reason of old age, or are warned to it on our death beds. We may, so may God appoint, we may never be sick; we may never be old; we may die suddenly. And if we are thus tried by sickness, or spared to old age, or laid gasping upon a death bed; how know we, that God may continue to us the use of our senses? But granting that he do, what will it avail? When a man has sacrificed his childhood to vanity, his youth to lust and to intemperance, his manhood to ambition and rage, pride and revenge, secular desires, and unholy actions; and yet still farther, given his old age to covetousness and oppression, to the world and the devil; after all this, what remains for God, and for religion? Oh, for that, they will do well enough; upon their death bed they will send for a priest to minister comfort to them, they will pray and ask God forgiveness, and receive the holy sacrament, and leave their goods behind them, disposing them to their friends and relatives, and some dole and issues of the alms-basket to the poor.' And thus they think they will die quietly, and be accepted as children of the heavenly kingdom. God in his mercy grant, that they do not find their mistake in another world. But we have no ground to hope for this. Will a few late tears, a few extorted prayers, wash out, and atone for, the disobedience and impiety of forty, or sixty, or eighty years? Can a man, and that in his fee
blest estate, undo in a day, or a week, what he has been perhaps fifty or seventy years in doing, and that too in his full strength? Is it any thing to quit our evil propensities at a time, when we have no temptation to them? When our passions are dull, or indifferent, or extinct? To make war, when we have nothing to war against? To begin to live, when it is time to die? And when we cannot reduce our good purposes to action? Will God pardon the sins of a whole life, easier than the sins of our youth? We dare not then, it were madness, to defer repentance, 'till our strengths are decayed, our spirits are weak, and our lust strong; our habits confirmed, and our longings after sin many and impotent; for what is very hard to be done, and is always done imperfectly, when there is length of time, and a less work to do, and more abilities to do it withal; when the time is short, and almost expired, and the work made difficult and vast, and the strength weaker, and the faculties are disabled, will seem little less than absolutely impossible.'
But did not God save the thief upon the Cross? His case was not like ours. He probably was a Heathen, and had before never heard of Christ. But even allowing that he had before known and rejected Christ, and was saved, by the superabundant mercy of the dying Saviour, in his extremity of life; yet this example is alone. God, it has been said, hath vouchsafed us one such case, that we should never despair; and but one, that we should never presume. It is certain, that there is no warrant in Scripture for salvation offered to a death-bed repentance. What, cannot God save a death-bed penitent ? Undoubtedly he can, if he please; but will he please? Can you find any promise in Scripture, that he will? But what then must a dying sinner do? Must he neglect to do any thing for his salvation? No. God forbid. Let him do what he can. It is but little. But let not that little be left undone. It is certain, that a death-bed repentance, if not hopeless, is invalid, sick, languid, and impotent, like our dying bodies, and disabled faculties. Nor ought we to expect the eternal glories of heaven for so. small a price; so short a service; so imperfect a trial. Salvation cost too much, for such admittance; a sigh or
two, or a prayer or two, or an agony of an hour or two, for the life-blood of a Saviour. For such repentance, we may well fear, there will be no place left, although we seek it carefully with tears. Instead of God's sending us then to repentance, he will send us to our grave. God has waited long; the grave will not wait. Sins, so long encrusted, will become a second nature. Sins, so long woven and worn, must be our grave-clothes. sun is so far in the west, darkness must follow.
We, therefore, as ambassadors for Christ; as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. Let us all so judge ourselves, that at the last we be not judged of the Lord. And let us do it now; before light is taken away; before our feet stumble upon the dark mountains of age; before the waters of the Jordan of death rise up to meet and overwhelm us. Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.
TRIUMPHS OF FAITH.
Heb. xi, 1.. NOW FAITH IS THE SUBSTANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR, THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN.
FAITH is defined to be, such a firm persuasion of the things, which God hath declared and promised, as clothes them with an evidence equal to that of sense. Faith gives a present subsistence to the future things, which are hoped for. Hope hath for its object only the things promised; whereas, besides these, faith hath for its objects all the declarations of God concerning things not seen.
To illustrate this sentiment, the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, devotes a whole chapter, which is itself indeed a noble and triumphant sermon, demonstrating the power of faith over the allurements and terrors of the world. In doing this, he runs through the Old Testament, as it were, and brings up before the Hebrew nation; and out of those Scriptures, which they sacredly received as the Oracles of God; a long array of persons, in every age, and country, who, by an unwavering faith in God, and his promises, had resisted the strongest temptations, sustained the heaviest persecutions, were preserved in imminent perils, obeyed the most difficult commands, and at length obtained the unfailing rewards of an obedient trust.
Saint Paul first tells us, that it is through faith in Revelation, that we believe this world, which did not always exist, was made by the will of God. That it was God, who said, Let there be light, and there was light. That it was God, who said, Let there be an earthly world, and there was an earthly world.