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air, worthless as the dust beneath your feet, then, to delay the possession or pursuit is criminal trifling, and utterly irreconcisable with rationality. How would you judge, if an earthquake had already passed under the place of your abode, if already the fragments of your dwelling were beginning to fall, would you think it rational and safe to delay a little longer? Would you need to be admonished from without-Escape instantly, another shock will bring the entire building to the ground? Could you coolly say to the friendly monitor, I mean to escape, but I am only delaying a little, to finish something, to bring something with me? Shall not that last warning prevail ? another moment, and you will pay dear for your delay! No sinner ever yet intended to be lost; and yet, by delay, how many have been lost, the last day alone will reveal. He that delays conversion is in the direct way to be lost. He is regardless of the fact, that every moment he delays he is resisting God, he is increasing his sins, he is hardening his heart, he is placing more difficulties in his own way; he is tempting God to cast him off altogether, and encouraging Satan to tempt him further into sin. It is awful to think of the anguish which is often experienced by procrastinators when they come to feel that they have delayed too long. My flesh has trembled when I have heard their piercing shrieks, and seen their frenzied looks, and experienced the difficulty of administering any word of hope, or of finding any promise strong enough to subdue their spirit.
If conversion is admitted to be indispensable for a sinner, if its nature has been truly, that is, scripturally, described in the foregoing pages, if every one who only procrastinates a little feels
the unutterable importance of that conversion, how ought such to shrink from the thought of delay, though it should be never so short, since it may be, and most probably will prove to be, but the beginning of that series of resolutions and delays, which will end in final impenitence!
Your resolution has, perhaps, already been formed and broken ; and more than once you have said sin. cerely and seriously, as before the eye of God, “ I will repent, and be converted.”' But yet the resolution remains to be carried into effect, and that with a mind weakened in its purpose, more familiar with the violation of its vow, and more prepared to admit the renewed force of those feelings and reasons for delay which have already more than once mastered it, and made it falter in its purpose.
There is a solemn and appropriate passage of Scripture, which you will do well to weigh seriously, and impress immediately upon your mind : " He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Prov. xxix. 1. Many, many sinners have experienced the awful truth of this threatening, and have lived long enough in the habit of delay, to feel that they were given over of God to that impenitency which they had dared to prolong, by trifling with the Divine warning; and have died exclaiming, with the Hon. F. Newport, the noble Altamont, and others, It is too late! But did you ever know or hear of any one that had repented too soon? Can you imagine it possible that any one should ever say he had been converted too soon? Do you think you shall ever feel that? Is there not yet danger that you may have to say, It is too late! The only certain security you can possess, and the only safeguard against that danger, is to repent now, be converted, turn to God now; delay not another moment, lest that should be a moment too late! When the voice of Noah was heard preaching righteousness, and predicting the deluge, he was scorned and mocked; but after the door was shut, and the rains began to descend, and the floods to cover the plains and surround the hills, many, who before had scorned, would fain have taken refuge in the ark, rather than flee to that only resort, the tops of the mountains, which their reason showed them would soon be covered; but it was too late ; God had shut in Noah, and in so doing had shut out the unbelieving and delaying sinners. Think, then, reader, can you still delay?
This term includes all those who have not given, and will not give, any serious or fixed attention to their conversion. They are so engaged by their affairs, so enslaved by their pleasures, so entangled by the spare of some sin, that they will, perhaps, scarcely have patience to read these lines specially addressed to themselves. Yet it is with the most anxious concern to do them service, with the most tender pity for their immortal souls, with the most respectful and earnest entreaty, that they are now admonished. If you will take this seasonable and well-meant warning, you may yet escape the wrath of God, and taste the joys of true religion. It is not, in your case, yet too late. You may be saved -saved from eternal death, which is undoubtedly at the end of your present course—and be admitted to everlasting felicity.
You are careless. You know that you are. You feel that your heart is quite indifferent to your conversion.
You will, perhaps, frankly confess it. And what a confession that is!
Well, then, you have been careless-not about your property, your health, your interests in this life, your mental improvement, your pleasures—but about
your soul. The principal reason is, because you have been enamoured and enslaved by some sin. Yet it is as certain as that you are rational, and can feel and judge, hope and fear, suffer and enjoy, that you cannot continue in sin, and possess the hope which makes life happy, and deprives death of its sting. You are not in the possession of true happiness, and a hope beyond death, just because you are not converted; and you are not, and will not be converted, because you love sin. You may, perhaps, deny this, or attempt, by some sophistry, to evade it. I know that human minds in your state often do deny this, and try to hide it from their consciences. I know that they will pretend any reason, and every reason, for not becoming true Christians, rather than admit that it arises from their love of sin. But it is so, and they will find it so at last. It is one of the masterpieces of satanic sophistry, to induce men to believe that, if they are finally lost, it will not be their own fault. Yet this is mere empty sophistry. Many thousands have experimentally proved that it is utterly delusive, and vanishes when once conscience is roused to deal faithfully with them. They really love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil : and whatever they may say when surrounded by gay and jocular companions, yet when serious, alone, terrified by the fear of death, or anticipating the presence of God, they feel it to be no comfort that they have lived in sin, despised religion, and laughed at conversion. They are then conscious that they have really preferred sinful pleasures to the salvation of their soul, or else they would not have turned from the one and pursued the other. They are conscious, and all such, when they think at all upon the matter, are conscious, that their own free will, without
any constraint or necessity, has led them to seek their gratification in the ways of sin, rather than in the way of God. But is not this a fact solemn enough-perilous enough to startle you from your dream of pleasure-sufficient to appal any mind with the tremendous thought of being soon consigned to endless torments! A little further progress in the same course, and you will find no possibility of retracing your steps! The die will be cast; the sentence, already gone forth, will be executed. Yet, the only true and adequate reason that can be stated, why you are not a true and happy Christian is, confessedly, that you have been careless, careless to such a degree, as you would not have been in any other matter, important to your health, your worldly interest, or your happiness. The only cause why you have not been converted is to be attributed to the evil disposition of your own heart. You have shown by your own conduct, that you would rather continue under the leprosy of sin, the moral plague of your heart, than be made whole by the hands of the Divine Physician. Do not, I entreat you, by all that is