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he ever accept less? The law of God, so far from having been abrogated by our Lord Jesus Christ, was magnified and made honourable, by his personal obedience, by his bearing the awful punishment of sin in his own body on the tree, by his illustration of its meaning and spirituality, as the great Prophet; by enjoining it on his people, as the King in Zion; and finally, by announcing it as the rule of judging in the last day, when, as the supreme Judge of the living and the dead, he shall render to every man according to his works.
Lastly. We see the power of conscience, and the sin and danger of stifling its dictates. Conscience has been placed in man for the most important purposes.
It has shared in the ruins of the fall; in many, it has been lulled asleep; in others, it is defiled ; in some seared ; but in the case of all, it should be addressed, and even in the most hardened, it may sometimes be roused; of this Felix was a striking example. He was sunk in iniquity, and, insensible to his danger, he sought to gratify his curiosity, by hearing Paul discourse as to the faith in Christ; but the apostle so plied his conscience with the truth of God, that he trembled before his prisoner; conscious of guilt, and involuntarily led to contemplate a coming judgment, he was alarmed, yet he said not like the Philippian jailor, “ What must I do to be saved ?” he felt not, as the jailor did, the paramount importance of the salvation of his soul. Determined to cleave to his crimes, he dismissed the unwelcome, the illiberal preacher, and banished the unpleasant thoughts which he had excited; he seems to have succeeded, but oh, how doleful the success! he procured a moment's peace at the awful risk of an eternity of woe!
He had been roused from his slumbers, but turning himself round, he seems to have sunk into a deeper sleep, a sleep resembling the stillness of spiritual death.
Perhaps no one cause is more extensively fatal to the eternal interests of men than procrastination, that is, putting off till “ to-morrow” the concerns of “ to-day.” If vice has slain her thousands, procrastination has slain her tens of thousands. What security has any man for future years, or days, to which he postpones the consideration of his eternal interests? What madness is it to prefer time to eternity !-to neglect the great salvation which is now made known through the Lord Jesus Christ, to all who believe, but which, for aught he knows, may now be made known to him for the last time? “ Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." To-morrow may be the day of death, to-morrow may be the time of judgment for the reader - for the writer.
Drusilla (though of the more tender sex) seems to have heard the same discourse unmoved; her peaceful slumbers were not even disturbed, the polished shafts from the apostle's quiver fell broken around her, the thunders of the coming judgment had not awakened her. Her final condition we know not; but the mind shudders to contemplate the case of those who are roused from their dreams of security, by the splendours of the throne of the Eternal, or by the awful and irrevocable sentence of condemnation; or the no less deplorable case of those, to whom the God of mercy saith, “ Because I have called, and ye refused, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh."
I cannot, I dare not, however, conclude this subject, without reminding the reader, that, however guilty he may be, and however unprepared he may be, for the coming judgment, atonement has been made for sin, and a righteousness provided, by means of which he may stand in the judgment. The punishment of sin has been borne by the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom is preached unto men the forgiveness of sins, and by whom all that believe are justified from all things. In him God is well pleased. Believing this truth, we are safe for time and safe for eternity; safe in death, and safe in the judgment. If God be for us, who can be against us?. The prospect of the judgment is to many justly alarming; conscious of sin, they fear to meet their Judge ; but the man who trusts in the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus can look forward, even to the judgment-seat, without alarm; he knows the awful solemnity of that appearance which he must then make; but he knows also, that he, in whom he trusts, is Judge; and never, never can HE disappoint the hopes of those who appear at his bar, pleading the merits of his sacrifice; never, never, can he thus bring discredit on his own work. Faith in him purifies the heart; leads to “ deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world;" and will, through the efficacy of that sacrifice which it respects, carry the believer in safety, by the judgment-seat, into the eternal world.
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
27, RED LION SQUARE.
J. & W.Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
Am I ready to die? No inquiry can be conceived more important. Eternity is involved in it. And oh! how much is implied in that one word, “ Eternity!"
We all know that we must die, and that after death is the judgment; but, alas ! how few seriously think of death ir reference to themselves ! how few are suitably impressed by the consideration of the certainty, and consequences of the judgment ! When an individual is to be tried for a capital offence, what anxiety is felt by himself and his friends, what expense incurred, what exertions are made, and what sacrifices submitted to, in order to secure his acquittal ! and the common consent of mankind approves of these measures. This end is universally admitted as justifying these means. And yet an amazing degree of unconcern is evinced, whenever the interests of eternity are substituted for those of time-that change in the objects which inconceivably heightens their importance, proportionably lessens their interest,--not their real, but their felt interest,--not the degree of interest which these different objects are fitted to excite, but the degree which they actually do excite. And is it not wonderful that the concerns of time should actually excite a greater degree of interest than those of eternity? Whence is this? It may be replied generally, that it arises from the depravity of the heart; and more particularly from inconsideration, procrastination, and false hopes for eternity. These are the ruin of thousands, and nothing is more desirable than to get men awakened from the sleep of security, and aroused to a sense of the unutterable importance of preparation,-instant -scriptural preparation for death; such a preparation in fact, as will suit the exigencies of the case, and be of avail before the judgment-seat on high. Let the reader, then, ask himself, as in the sight of the Omniscient Judge, Am I ready to die? ready to appear at the bar of God ? ready to stand my trial for eternity ? Oh! evade not the inquiry at present, pleasing yourself with the thought of making it seriously at a future time—ere that time arrives you may be in the eternal world, and experiencing the awful consequences of unpreparedness : dreadful thought! Evade not the inquiry because of certain misgivings of mind, as to the result to which you would have to come ; such misgivings, instead of being a reason for postponing this inquiry, form a most powerful reason for instantly commencing, and vigorously prosecuting it.
Am I then ready to die? Were God this night-this moment, to require my soul, what would be my condition for eternity? If the reader be really desirous of ascertaining this point, he will probe the matter to the bottom; a superficial examination will not suffice. If his object be merely to come to a favourable conclusion, whether correct or not, he may probably find it an easy matter to persuade himself that all is well ; but if his object be to come to a correct conclusion, whether favourable or not, he will be afraid or self-deception. He will examine the matter thoroughly, knowing that his highest and dearest interests are involved in the inquiry. He will prosecute it according to the directions of the word of God, with earnest prayer that he may be guided aright, and with a deep and settled conviction of the tendency of his heart to self-deception.
May the Lord the Spirit condescend to direct the writer while he endeavours to assist in this deeply interesting inquiry, Am I ready to die?
Not unless your sins are pardoned. Every thing depends on this; unpardoned sin constitutes unpreparedness for death. Of this, every reader may satisfy himself. What is it which renders any man afraid to die? Is it not a consciousness of guilt, and a consequent dread of the wrath of God? How can this fear be removed, but by lightening the conscience of this load? But the object ought not to be merely to get quit of the load by any means, but to get quit of it by scriptural means and dreadful, indeed, will be the disappointment of those who are deluded with a false peace, and whose preparation for death will not abide the judgment.
Does the reader entertain any hope on this head, from supposing that he has made, or is intending to make, his peace with God, by repentance and reformation, and from a general persuasion, that whatever is wanting, will be made up by the mercy of God through the Lord Jesus Christ ? Let him not deceive himself. Oh! my friend, this kind of preparation will not do. It will not abide the test of God's word, and therefore we are sure it will not abide the test to be applied in the judgment. Hear what God says in his word; “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Gal iii. 10. “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Gal. ii. 16. “Without faith it is impossible to please God." Heb. xi. 6.