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The interests of eternity.
ence, bereft of all that now makes your heart joyous, shunned by the virtuous, and your doom sealed up for an undone eternity-draw around you the safeguard of religion, avail yourself of the opportunity soon to be offered, and renew to your Maker your baptismal vow.
But the interests and destinies of man are not confined to the present world : he is to exist through eternity; and the preparation for that eternity is to be made during the present life. We are sinners, and therefore aliens from the family of God, and no longer objects of divine favour. We can never be admitted into the family of God, or become objects of his favour, until we enter into covenant with him.
The plan of salvation revealed in the gospel is the great proposed covenant of mercy. The sacraments are the signs and seals of this covenant. As God placed his bow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant which he made that he would no more drown the earth with a flood, so has he appointed baptism, by which we are initiated into the ark of Christ's church, a sign of that covenant, by which he promises that all his children shall be conveyed in safety over the fiery waves of perdition to the haven of eternal rest. By receiving the rite of confirmation, and thus ratifying our baptismal vow, we acknowledge the covenant relation in which we stand to God. And if we do this with proper dispositions of heart, we may expect to realize all the blessings promised by the covenant. There is not a single promise in the gospel to any except those who enter into covenant with God, through faith in Christ. Out of Christ, “God is a consuming fire.” In making up your mind, therefore, whether you will be in covenant with God or not; whether you will renew your baptismal vow or not; remember, you are deciding whether you will be saved or lost.
Perhaps some whom I am addressing are thus silently reasoning in their minds : •I should like to come to this ordinance, and enter into covenant with the Most High, but I am not in a fit state. Feeling as I now do, I dare not presume to take such a step.'
We shall be the last to encourage any one to enter into this solemn engagement with God rashly or prematurely. But is not this excuse made as a sort of apology for con
tinuing in sin without any purpose of amendment—without any deep overwhelming distress that you are not in a fit state to enter into covenant with God? If you are weighed down with sorrow and grief by the recollection of this unfitness, then can we point you to the healing waters of life, and assure you that even now the angel of mercy has come down to move those waters. But let me inquire, my hearer, If you have not piety enough to render you a fit subject for confirmation, have you piety enough to carry you to hea
You who make this objection, allow me to ask, Do you think, if you should die to-night, you would drop into hell! Certainly you would, else you would be a fit subject for this sacred ordinance. Now I leave it to your own consciences to decide whether you can with safety continue one moment longer in this state. Ah, it appears to me, if I saw myself standing on the brink of an undone eternity, I should not close my eyes in sleep till I had found some way of escape !
Perhaps some whom I am addressing are thus reasoning: "I do not mean to die without the comforts of religion, but I do not feel at present disposed to engage in this matter. At some future time I can avail myself of the opportunity of confirmation, and secure the advantages of religion.'
Ah, deluded hearer, who can tell what events will transpire before the expiration of another year? Ere another annual revolution, thy name may be inscribed upon a sculptured stone, standing to mark the spot where thy body has mouldered into dust, cut down in all thy thoughtlessness and gayety, and hurried away in all thy unpreparedness to the judgment bar! Then thou wilt recollect the walls of this sanctuary; the truths that were brought to view this evening; the solemnity that was spread over the assembly; the warning, counsel, and entreaty of thy pastor; the strivings of the Holy Spirit in thy own bosom ; the affecting scene of many hearts pierced with convictions of sin, and looking up to the mercy-seat of Jesus for pardon! O, in that hour, when all is lost, for ever lost, how sadly will the recollection of this evening come over thy memory!
• On that evening,' thou wilt say, 'on that evening heaven was within my reach ; Jesus invited, and the Holy Ghost urged me; but my pride, the fear of the world, or the love of pleasure, induced me to defer the work
Narrative of young G
salvation, and now the door of mercy is for ever shut.
To prevent this painful catastrophe, will you not this very evening, here in the house and presence of God, resolve that you will immediately enter upon the work of
salvation ; and that if you attain a suitable frame of mind, through the transforming power of God's Holy Spirit, you will, at the approaching season of confirmation, take upon you your baptismal vows, and seek to hold a covenant relation to God?
That such a determination is of the utmost importance to every one that is out of Christ, can be made evident by a thousand proofs. When men have received repeated calls, and still go on in impenitence, heedless of the warning voice of God, they have nothing to expect but that an arrow of destruction will soon cut them down. How many painful instances,-how many melancholy illustrations of this solemn truth have I witnessed during my short life!
Allow me to select, from a great number that this moment occur to me, two cases that are directly in point. The one a youth by the name of G
The circumstances which I am about to mention were related to me by one who knew this young man, and attended his funeral. I received no information respecting his early life, or the means of religious instruction which he enjoyed under the paternal roof. But at the period when my informant became acquainted with G-, he had left the home of his childhood, and was mingling in the busy scenes of a gay and dissipated city. His manners were amiable, and his deportment apparently every way correct. The acknowledged excellencies of his character had won him the regard and esteem of a large circle of friends. He regularly attended public worship, and the solemn truths of religion had made some impression upon his mind. This was so obvious, that it became perceptible to the pastor upon whose ministration he attended.
He had several interviews with him, and the fond hope began to be cherished that he would be brought speedily to a saving knowledge of the truth. But the worldly influences that were pressing upon him stifled those faint motions of
Continuation of young G-'s narrative.
spiritual life, and turned his eye away from the interests of eternity. As his seriousness passed away, he seemed to gird himself up to tread, with a more determined step, the whole round of earthly pleasure. Onward he went through all the gay and glittering scenes of fashion and amusement, forgetful of God and eternity. But a kind Heaven, that watched over him in mercy, was about to sound another note of alarm in his ear, and press upon his attention this admonition,-“ Prepare to meet thy God.” He was suddenly laid upon the bed of sickness, and brought down to the very borders of the grave. Here he had time to reflect.
He bitterly lamented the career of folly he had been running. He plainly saw it must end in perdition. He resolved to enter at once upon a new and religious life. The minister who had formerly sought to lead him to the feet of the Saviour, called at this time to see him. He faithfully warned and counselled him; and young G- - solemnly promised, that if his life was spared, and he was raised from that sick bed, the Lord should be his God. spared, he was raised up, and yet his vow was not kept. But a few weeks had elapsed after he left his sick room, before he was again immersed in the pleasures and amusements of the world as much as ever.
Mr. M the minister who had been so much his friend, hearing of his return to the paths of folly, shortly called to pay him a visit. G- had made a previous arrangement to spend the evening of that very day amid a scene of reckless gayety and dissipation. Mr. M-, with the fearlessness of a faithful minister of Jesus Christ, told G- that the course he was taking would ruin his soul. He reminded him of the divine declaration, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” He told him that his broken vows and violated promises would one day rise up in judgment against him ; that if provoked much longer, God would swear in his wrath that he should never enter his rest.
Now," said Mr. M-, with deep solemnity, "now, my young friend, allow me to say, that I have come to you as the messenger of God. In his name I bid you escape
Case of Mr. D.
the coming wrath. Give yourself up at once to the Lord. If you hesitate, remember that this may be the last call that God will ever send to you."
After his departure, when G- - found himself alone, and thought of all the past, he could not refrain from tears, which gushed forth amid the bitterness of his soul. He could not but admit the truth of all that had been said to him ; still he was undecided. While absorbed in these reflections, and still in this state of indecision, it was announced to him that a gentleman was waiting to see him. It was one of his gay companions. He had called to make some arrangements in reference to the anticipated party. They had not been discussing their plans long, before all serious impressions were effaced from young G-'s mind, and he entered the illuminated festal-hall that evening with a light and bounding heart. But ah! he was truly an object for angels to look down upon and weep. The last call of God had indeed reached his ear, and been rejected, and now he was going like an ox to the slaughter. In the midst of that intoxicating scene of pleasure, where the splendid and gay costume of each passing group reflected back rays coming from an hundred brilliant lamps, and where music poured forth her enchanting strains, in the very act of passing through the varied movements of spirited waltz, young G- suddenly drooped, and fell lifeless to the floor! Though the sound of the viol was hushed, and many anxious hearts instantly gathered around to proffer aid, the extinct vital principle could not be recalled. His disembodied soul had been summoned away to stand before the bar of the Judge Eternal.
The other case to which I refer was of a still more melancholy character. Mr. D. had accumulated considerable property, and lived in fashionable style. He was altogether a worldly man. Though educated by a pious mother, he seemed to live only for the present. Seldom did he ever visit the house of God. Still the Lord sent one warning after another, to apprize him of the ruin that was before him, and reclaim him from his wanderings. But the divine admonition was unheeded.
He had two sweet and interesting children. One night, while the parents were absent, both these children