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Appeal to the audience.
found comfort in an exclusive confidence in Christ crucified, the aspect of mournfulness was no longer on her countenance; but heaven-born serenity and cheerfulness sat there. They were a new-family; they were a happy family. And all this was accomplished by grace through faith ; not of themselves, it was the gift of God,” which gist each one of us may have, if we seek it with a sincere heart.
And may I not hope, my hearers, that many of you have truly set out to obtain this gift of God? Alas, you can hardly comprehend the anxiety with which I ask this question. The minister of Christ, notwithstanding he has many things to cheer and encourage him, often meets with scenes and occurrences of so awful a character that time can never erase them from his memory. In looking back a few years he can recollect occasions, when he pleaded with a certain audience as a man for his life. He warned those who were in the pathway to perdition, that death would soon arrest their footsteps ; that in a few weeks it would be for ever too late. His counsel was disregarded ; but, alas ! the event furnished most melancholy proof that he uttered the truth. Many who were present in that audience, when he thus lifted the voice of warning, are now no longer numbered among the living. They went just as he predicted; cut down in impenitence, and in all their unpreparedness to appear before God.
And perhaps there may be some whom I am addressing this evening, whose end will be equally disastrous, and whose future history will be recorded in the dark chronicles of the prison-house below! They are in our midst this evening, with minds somewhat seriously impressed. Still they have not fully resolved to surrender themselves up to the service of Christ. The fear of the world, the shame of the cross, the love of sin, the expectation that
to-morrow will be as this day, and much more abundant” in religious opportunities, or some other soul-ruining delu. sion, will induce them to resist this call which God has sent them to-night. Perhaps he will never send them another.
We shall soon be invited to the house of mourning. Disconsolate friends, inconsolable parents! This relative, this child of yours, is dead! He attended our lectures, he
The importance of instant decision.
was warned; the Spirit of God strove with him: he was slightly affected; he shed some tears; but his heart was still stout against God. He would not yield. He would not submit. The Spirit was resisted, and grieved, and repelled. He came not forward to take upon him his baptismal vows. He remained impenitent. He died unrenewed. He went into eternity destitute of that holiness “ without which no man shall see the Lord.” O disconsolate friends, inconsolable parents, our hearts bleed for you; but we can give you no comfort.
Let me warn you, my hearers, to prevent this awful catastrophe, by giving up your hearts this very moment to the Lord. He, the great Eternal, even now waits to be gracious. From his exalted throne he stoops to offer you pardon and life. He even beseeches you to turn and live. He has besought you a thousand times before. And now he waits to see what will be your decision. Remember that this decision is for eternity; that it cannot be revoked ; that, by what you now do, you will either open or shut the gate of heaven for ever against your own soul. Sinner, what then is your decision? Lift up your eyes, and gaze upon heaven, and hell, and the judgment, and then make up your mind !
Counting the cost.
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer
shall be abomination. From the 28th of the book of Proverbs.
It was when great multitudes were thronging around the Saviour, and following him wherever he went, that he turned and said unto them—"If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yea, and his own life also”—that is, if he does not love these less than he does me-if he is not willing to give them all up, in order to save his soul, and gain eternal life" he cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus Christ did not wish that men should be brought to declare themselves his followers, without understanding the nature of the service in which they were to be engaged. He did not wish that any momentary excitement, or transient popularity that might seem to gather around his cause, should lead them to take a step which they should afterwards regret. On the other hand, he wished them to have a full, clear, and deliberate understanding, that they could not be his disciples without sacrifices and self-denials; that in following him, they would have to travel a rough and thorny road, and bear a burden of sorrow and shame. Hence said he, in continuation of his remarks—“ And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he hath sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war with another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand. Or
Sinful indulgencies must be relinquished.
else while the other is a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
We are here taught that the religion of the gospel is a work of thought, and of calm and fixed purpose ; that the man who embraces it must deliberately look at all the difficulties he will be called upon to encounter, and be prepared to meet them. And whosoever does not deliberately resolve to suffer all things that may be laid upon him, and to persevere to the end of his days in the service of Christ,
-whosoever is not willing to bear his cross, and meet contempt, and poverty, and pain, and death, without turning back,-cannot be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The language of Christ which meets us on every page of the sacred volume is—“ If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” There is but one path to heaven, and that is through the strait gate, and on the narrow way. Men may love their sins; they may have their particular indulgencies, which they are unwilling to give up, and which they cannot relinquish without the greatest interest and self-denial; but these sins and indulgencies are, the offending eye, which they are required to pluck out the offending hand, which they are required to cut off. “ If thy hand or foot offend thee,” says the Saviour, “cut them off and cast them from thee: It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell-fire."
O that the giddy multitude—that the thoughtless lovers of pleasure, would think of this! They will not become disciples of Christ, because the duties which his religion enjoins would interfere with their indulgencies. Walking in the ways of their own heart, they choose for one short hour the phantom of pleasure, and end their career by plunging into a ruined eternity. Surely it is better to give up every forbidden indulgence, though it cost us as much pain as to pluck out a right eye, or cut off a right hand; it is better to give up every forbidden indulgence, and enter the abodes of eternal
bliss, than to revel in that indulgence for a few short days, and then be cast down to hell!
I trust that there are many, who have been attending this series of lectures, that have been led to see and feel that they are sinners; that they are guilty and condemned in the sight of God; that, inasmuch as they have no merit of their own, their case without a Saviour is hopeless; and that every prop on which they have been hitherto leaning will, at the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, be swept from underneath them. I trust there are many in the audience whom I now address, that having been led to see that they were on the very brink of perdition, and that Christ was the only being who could rescue them, have made an entire surrender of themselves to him, and determined to submit to him, as their Prophet, that he may instruct them in their duty, and point out the path that leadeth unto eternal life, Priest, that he may make atonement for their sins, and intercede for them at the right hand of God, -as their King, that he may reign in their hearts, and by the precepts of his gospel rule and regulate their lives.
Such, I am confident, will readily subscribe to the last thing proposed to the candidate for baptism : “Wilt thou obediently keep God's holy will and commandments; and walk in the same all the days of thy life ?"
Every sinner whose heart has been changed by the renewing grace of God, will be constrained to reply to this interrogatory, in the language of the baptismal service "I will, by God's help.” This promise and covenant engagement of obedience to the will and commandments of God, is solemnly renewed and ratified at confirmation.
This was the third thing required in the primitive church, of the candidates for baptism-a solemn and formal promise or engagement to live in obedience to Christ, or by the laws and rules of the Christian religion. They who adhere to this promise do verily exhibit that personal holiness “ without which no man shall see the Lord.” The last qualification which the candidate for confirmation must possess is, a sincere and ardent desire to do the will of God, and a fixed and unalterable determination to obey every divine command. Such a desire and determination will lead to holiness of life.
They who purpose on the next Lord's day to renew in