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the faith of the Gospel? Have we repented of our sins? Have we turned to God with all the heart? If we can answer these questions in the affirmative, it will be well with us, and we have already secured the great end of our being.
But if not, what ought to be our conduct? Can we look at this subject, can we ponder death and the grave, judgment and eternity, heaven and hell, with coldness and indifference? Have you ever thought what it is to die; to appear before God, alone, unembodied; to be tried, and judged, and sentenced, and rewarded, according to your works? Have you considered the suspended state of an immortal mind, the exposure of eternal interests to final ruin, the immense hazard of a cold and stupid, a worldly and guilty probationer for eternal life and death? Have you weighed, have you reckoned up what it is to lose heaven and be sent down to hell? Are you prepared to enter eternity with all your sins on your heads? Can you flee from the presence, the power, and the hand of God? Can you evade the search of his all-seeing eye? Can you " abide in the "day of his anger, and stand in the time of his indignation?" When is your preparation to shun the dangers before you, to escape from a guilty, rebellious character, a fearful condemnation and final perdition, to begin? Have you resolved on the time? Is it at hand? If it is, " go on and prosper," and may "the Lord lift upon you the light of his countenance, and be "gracious to you!"
If not, let me propose to you a time for this solemn purpose. You have just ended a year which God has given to you, that you might obtain salvation. You are commencing, through his mercy and long-suffering, a new year, allotted, so far as you will be permitted to enjoy it, for the same end. All your preceding years are lost, not gone merely, but wasted with a dangerous and fatal prodigality. It is time that you began to husband your day of grace, and to save the remainder of the accepted time.
This day let God be a witness of your first determination to renounce iniquity, and turn to him to repent of your sins, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and to yield yourselves to him as a faithful and free will offering. Let this new year
bring you to a new, humble, obedient, and spiritual life. Let your "old man" be "put away with his deeds, which are cor"rupt, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created "in righteousness and true holiness."
Remember that you are creatures of God, dependent on his bounty for life, and all its blessings and hopes; that he is now waiting on you, to be gracious and save your souls alive; and that he has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but would "rather that he would return, and repent, and live."
This day has he been present in this house; he is now present with opened arms to receive and bless you. Will you not meet him, and receive his blessing?
Feel, I beseech you, that you are dying creatures. Feel that the message in the text may truly be directed to you. To some or other of you it will, in all probability, be directed. Act, then, as you would act if the voice of the prophet were still sounding in your ears, "This year thou shalt die." All that would be proper for the man whose case I have proposed must, essentially, be proper for you. You, like him, stand upon the brink of the grave, on the border of eternity. You, like him, are hastening to the judgment, to the recompense of reward. Your life is, like his, "a vapour, which appeareth "for a little time, and then vanisheth away." "The remaining days and hours ought, therefore, to be anxiously employed in preparing for these amazing events. The world ought to lose its hold on you as on him. Its business, its honours, its pleasures, ought to have no place in your hearts, except as your duty is concerned. Your whole business here is plainly to prepare for hereafter. Nothing here ought to stand between you and your duty, between you and your God. Shall time prevent you from acquiring the blessings of eternity? Shall earth withdraw you from heaven? You have the Gospel in your hands; you enjoy the Sabbath; you frequent the sanctuary. All things are given to you richly to enjoy. Every means of grace, every hope of salvation, is placed freely and bountifully in your hands. You hear the calls of mercy, the invitations to faith, repentance, and holiness, the proffers of endless life and glory. The Saviour cries to you, "Come un
"to me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He is evidently set before you, crucified for your sins. He entreats you daily to be reconciled to God, and points to his own wounds and to his flowing blood, with infinite compassion, to compel you by motives irresistible. Why will you not comply? Should an enemy, malicious, sagacious, and implacable beyond example, and fraught with the spirit of a fiend, contrive to lull you into security, allure you to sin, harden your hearts, and blind your minds, in such a manner as to ruin your souls and lead you to final perdition,-what would be your views concerning the character of such a being when you came to the miseries of damnation? Would you not think eternity too short to vent all your resentment against the murderer of your souls? What other part are you now acting? Every sin which you commit, every season of grace which you lose, every warning which you cast away, is a proof that you are suicides, suicides of your souls, destroyers of immortal life. What sentence ought you then to pass on your conduct, on yourselves?
Awake from this sleep of stupidity, sottishness, and death. Resume your reason. Return to your God, to repentance, faith, and hope, to holiness and heaven. Retire to your closets, shut your doors, and pray to your Father which is in secret. Let heaven, for the first time, hear a fervent, honest prayer ascend for the forgiveness of your sins. Give to good men here, and to angels there, a hope that their joy shall be renewed over your repentance. Let God be able to say concerning each of you," Behold he prayeth."
Betake yourselves to the word of life. Search the Scriptures. Ponder the descriptions of your character, the threatenings against your sins, the invitations to repentance and reformation, the infinite love of the Saviour, the abounding compassion of God, the glorious mission of the Spirit of grace, and the bright and luminous hopes of immortal life. Think what you will be if impenitent, what you may be if you please, and what you will be if you repent. Weigh endless life with the loss of the pleasures of sin, and endless death with the enjoyment of those pleasures, and carefully cast up the difference. Think how
you would feel if a messenger from heaven were to announce to you your certain and final damnation, and then call to mind that you are daily announcing this tremendous allotment by your own continuance in sin. Lo! life and death are set before you. "Choose you, therefore, this day whom you will serve," God or the world. Choose whether you will go down to perdition, or ascend to everlasting life; and may infinite mercy enable you to make a choice, in which you will find peace and consolation throughout eternity. Amen!
A SERMON FOR THE NEW YEAR.
Preached January, 1809.
LUKE XIII. 6-9.
"He spake also this parable. A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years 1 come, seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none; cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground? And he, answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it. And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." "
THIS parable seems to have been addressed originally to the Jews. They had been long a peculiar object of divine cultivation, and at the time when the parable was delivered were eminently unfruitful. A sentence of excision was gone out against them, but was stayed in its execution by the heavenly vine-dresser; by Him who said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, "that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent un"to thee!" by Him who wept over the future miseries of this devoted nation at the very time when they were preparing to imbrue their hands in his blood. Accordingly, God waited upon them to be gracious; and came many years seeking fruit