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lý to excite to the performance of that which may be proved to be duty without them.
We might as well wait for impressions, and conclude from the want of them that the time is not come for the performance of other duties, as those of baptism and the Lord's supper.
Some are kept froin a public profession of Christ's name by mere mercenary motives. They have relations and friends that would be offended. The fear of being disinherited, or injured in some sort as to wordly circumstances, has made many a person keep his principles to himself, till such time as the party whose displeasure he fears shall be removed out of the way. This is wicked, as it amounts to a denial of Christ before men, and will no doubt expose the party, if he die without repentance for it, to a being denied by Christ before his father at the last day. Lord, said one, I will follow thee, but let me first go and bury my father-let me first go and bid them farewell who are at home, says another. Jesus answered, Let the dead bury their dead, follow thou me-No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.*
Fourthly, It is this plea that keeps us from a thorough self examination, and self denial. The importance of being right in the sight of God, and our liability to err, even in the greatest of all concerns, renders a close acd frcquent enquiry into our spiritual state absolutely necessary. It is a dangerous as well as an uncomfortable life to be always in sospense, not kuowing what, nor where we are, nor whither we are going. There are seasons too in which we feel the importance of such an enquiry, and think we will go about it, we will search and try our
win from our sins, and walk more closely with God. Such thoughts will occur wher
* Luke, X. 59-62.
we hear matters urged home upon us from the pulpit, or when some affecting event draws off our attention from the present world, and causes nis to reflect upon ourselves for our inordinate anxiety after it. We think of living otherwise than we have done ;, but when we come to put our thoughts into execution, we find a number of difficulties in the way, which too often deter us, at least for the present. “ Here is an uodertaking that must first be accomplished before I can have time; here is also a troublesome affair that I must get through before I can be composed ; and then, here are such tempo tations that I know not how to get over just now if I wait a little longer, perhaps they may be removed.” Alas, alas, thus we befool ourselves ! thus we put it off to another time, till the impressiops on our minds are worn off, and then we are, less able to attend to those things than we were at first. As one who puts off the examination of his accounts, and the retrenchment of his expenses, till all on a sudden he is involved in a bankruptcy ; 80 do multitudes in the religious world beglect a close inspection into their souls' concerns, till at kength, either a departure from some of the great principles of the gospel, or some foul and open Aall, is the consequence.
Finally, it is this principle that keeps us from preparedness for death, a being ready when our Lord shall come. There is nothing that Christ has more forcibly enjoined than this duty.--Be ye also ready, for at such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh - What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. Why do we not inmediately feel the force of these charges, and betake ourselves to habitual watchfulness, and prayer, and self-denial, and walking with God? Way are men who wait for the con
of their Lord ? Is it oor from a secret thougt, that the time is not come? We k-ow we must die, bull
we not as
every one of
will asa It is proper,
we consider it as something at a distance ; and thus imagining that our Lord delayeth his com. ing, we delay to prepare to meet him, so that when he cometh he findeth us in confusion. Instead of our loins being girt, and one lights burning, we are engaged in a number of plans and pursuits to the neglect of those things, which, notwithstanding the necessary avocations of life, ought always to engross our supreme attention.
But let us next proceed to consider the EVIL NATURE and DANGEROUS TENDENCY of this procrastinating temper.
I necd not say much to prove to you that it is a sin. The conscience af
you sist me in that part of the work. however, in order that you may feel it the more forcibly, that you should consider wherein its evil nature consists.
First, It is contrary to the tenor of all God's commandments. All through the scriptures we are required to attend to divine things immediate. ly, and without delay.-Work while it is called to-day ; the night cometh when no man can work, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not rour hearts-While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of lighi Wohatsoever i hy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might ; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thou goest*
God not only requires us in general what we do to do quickly, but calls us to serve bin particularly under those temptations or afilictions, which we find placed in our way. The terms of discipleshipare, deny thy selt, take up the cross, and
He does not call upon us to follow bim barely when there are no troubles, nor difficulties
John ix 4,
Psal. xcv. 7, 8.
Ecc, ix, 10.
to encounter, nor allow us, when those difficulties, occur, to wait a fairer opportunity ; but to take our cross as it were upon our shoulders, and so. follow him. It would be of use for us to consider every situation as a post in which God hath placed us, and in which he calls upon us to serve and glorify him. If we are poor, we are required to glorify God by contentiment ; if afflicted, by patience ; if bereaved, by submission ; if persecuted, by firmness; if injured, by forgiveness ; or if tempted, by denying ourselves for his sake. Nor can these duties be performed at any other time ; to put them off, therefore, to another op. portunity, is the same thing in effect, as refusing Lo comply with them at all.
Secondly, To put off things to another time, implies a larking dislike to the things themselves. We do not ordinarily do so, except in things wherein we have no delight. Whatever our hearts are set upon, we are for losing no time till it is accomplished. If the people of Judah had had a mind to work, as is said of them on another occasion, they would not have pleaded that the time was not come. Sinful delay, therefore, arises from a ienation of heart from God, than which nothing can be more offensive in his sight.
But farther, it is not only a sin, but a sin of dangerous tendency. This is manifest by the effecis it produces. Precious time is thereby mur. dered, and valuable opportunities lost, and lost beyond recall !
That there are opportunities possessed both by saints and sinners is plain from the scriptures The former might' do abundantly more for God than they do, and might enjoy much more of God and heaven than they actually enjoy; and no doubt it would be so, were it got for that idle delaying temper of which we have spoken. Like the Is Faciites, we are slothful to go ap to possess the
good land. Many are the opportunities both of doing and enjoying good, that have already passed by. O, what Christians might we have been before now, had we but availed ourselves of all those advantages, which the gospel dispensation, and the free exercise of our religion afford us!
Sinners also, as long as life lasts, have opportunity of escaping from the wrath to come. Hence they are exherted to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near. Hence also there is a door represented as being at present open, which the master of the house will one day rise up and shut. The foun, tain is described as being at present open for sin, and for uncleanness; but there is a period approaching, when it shall be said, He that is fil. thy, let him be filthy still !* It seems scarcely in the power of language to express the danger of delay in terms more forcible and impressive than those which are used in the above passages.-Nor is there any thing in the idea that clashes with the scripture doctrine of decrees. . All allow that men have opportunity in natural things, to do what they do not, and to obtain what they obtain not; and if this can be made to consist with an universal providence, which performcth the things that are appointed for us ; why should not the other be allowed to consist with the purposes of Him, who does nothing without a plan, but worketh all things after the counsel of his own will? A price is in the hands of those who have no heart to get wisdom.
thoughtless sinner, trifte no longer with the murder of time ! time, so short and uncertain in its duration ; the morning of your existence, the mould in which you receive an impression fox eternity, the only period in which the son of Man Isai, ir 6,7. Lake xiï 75. Zech. xiii 1. Rev. xxi 16