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mently demand. Usually they conclude, that their situation is at the worst attended with no uncommon danger; that if one, or two, or twenty, or fifty years are gone and lost, years enough remain to secure their salvation, and begin their repentance, when other pressing concerns of business or of pleasure shall be finished. "It is a hard case," will every sinner say, "since seventy years are the destined date of human life, and twenty of them still remain, if a work which demands so little time for its accomplishment cannot be performed within that period. I may therefore sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play; and yet have abundant opportunity to renounce my sins, and turn to God."
But a sinner ought to remember at the close of a year, that he has lost that period, and not only lost it, but converted it into the means of sin and ruin; that he is more sinful, more guilty, and more odious to God than at the beginning; that all the difficulties which lie between him and salvation are increased beyond his imagination; that his mass of guilt and the reasons of his condemnation are mightily enhanced, his evil habits strengthened, and his hopes of returning lessened far more than he is aware; that that year was added to those which he has lost, for the very purpose of engaging him to seek eternal life; that God who waited every day which it contained to be gracious to him, has seen him employ every one of these days in wickedness only; and that, instead of living many years to come, he may very soon be summoned to the judgment, and sentenced to that endless death which he has hitherto laboured, though unintentionally, to deserve.
He ought also to cast his eyes around him, and see that all, or almost all, others who have, like himself, trusted to a future repentance, have from year to year become more hardened in sin by these very means: have thought less and less of turning back, and taking hold of the paths of life; and, although whitened with the locks of age, and tottering over the grave, are, with an assiduity and eagerness not less than his own, indulging the lust of the flesh, the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life. Such as they are, will he be. Their thoughts, their conclusions, their conduct, have been the same; their end, therefore, will be his. How properly then may he exclaim, at the end of a year in which he might have sought salvation, but which he has spent in accomplishing his ruin, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended; but I am not saved !" ·
To bring the subject home to the reader, and to prevent, so far as may be, each individual from reading for his neighbour, and not for himself, let me address it directly to his conscience. God, my friend, has, with infinite patience and mercy, prolonged your life for another year; and, in spite of all your sins, has renewed his blessings to you every morning, and returned them every moment. You are alive; have been fed and clothed by his bounty; have been preserved from every fatal evil, and furnished with an abundance of earthly good. The gate of salvation is still open. The voice of the Redeemer is still heard: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Sabbath still smiles with peace and hope. The sanctuary still resounds with praise, and invites you to seek and ask, to find and to receive. The sceptre of forgiveness is still held out for you to touch and live. In what manner have you lived, in the midst of these blessings? Have you solemnly, often, and effectually, thought on the great subject of religion? Have you felt that your soul was immortal-that it must be either saved or lost-that it is sinful, and of course condemned, and unless you return with repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, ruined for ever? Have you under these affecting apprehensions, entered your closets, bowed your knees before God, and asked him to have mercy on you? Have you
assembled your family with all humility of mind, and with strong crying and many tears, besought God to sanctify and save them also? Have you faithfully gone up to the Have you wantonly lost no Sabbath
house of the Lord? during the past year?
How many half days have you
given to pleasure, sleep, or business, when God came down to meet you in his house, and to bless you? When you were there, what conduct has the all-seeing eye of God beheld you adopt? Have you united with all the heart, in the prayers and praises of the holy place? Have you taken heed how you heard the words of eternal life? Have you remembered, pondered, and resolved to obey what you heard? Have you thus obeyed? Have you delighted in the law of God after the inner man? in the glorious promises of the gospel? the Scriptures to find them? Are you better than you were when the year began? Are you more disposed to embrace Christ, more dutiful to God, more hopeful of salvation? Are you nearer to heaven, or nearer to hell? To what good purpose have you lived? Is not the harvest, in one important sense, past to you?
Have you rejoiced Have you searched
II. Another situation to which this melancholy reflection is peculiarly applicable, is that of a dying sinner. Among the objects which may be supposed most naturally to arise to the view of a sinner on his dying bed, his youth would undoubtedly occupy a place of primary importance. In what colours will his various conduct during this period appear, when he is now on the verge of eternity, and just bidding an adieu to the present world and all its cares, and hopes, and pleasures; and when the earth, and whatever it contains, are vanishing for ever from his sight? Where are now his high hopes of sublunary good? where his lively, brilliant spirits, his ardent thirst for sensual enjoyment, for gay amusement, for sportive companions, and for the haunts of festivity, mirth, and joy? These once engrossed all his thoughts, wishes, and labours. With a voice sweeter and more deceitful than that of the fabled Sirens, they once sung to him, "Let us pluck the rose-buds ere they wither;" and "Let us withhold not our heart from any joy." Where are they now? They have vanished with the gaiety of the morning cloud, they have fled with the glitter of the early dew. Of what madness will he see himself to have been
possessed, that he could be allured away from duty and salvation by bubbles, which, though adorned with the hues of enchantment, burst in a moment, and were gone for ever! In this precious golden season God called to him from heaven, and proclaimed aloud, "I love them that love me, and those who seek me early shall find me. Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than fine gold. For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things that may desired are not to be compared to it. I will cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures." Christ, with the benignity and sweetness of redeeming love, invited him to come and take the water of life freely, proffered to him the eternal blessings of his atonement and intercession, and an interes in the love with which, stronger than death, he had been broken on the cross, and poured out his blood, that he might live.
Among the sins which most effectually oppress his heart, his negligence, abuse, and prostitution of the means of grace, will especially overthrow him. God, all along through the various parts of his life, put into his hands, with unspeakable kindness, his Word, his Sabbath, and the blessings of his sanctuary. He gave him line upon line, and precept upon precept; warnings of his word and providence without number, and invitations to embrace the Redeemer, and yield himself to him as a free-will offering. Nothing will now more astonish him, than that he could possibly lose, profane, and destroy in amusement, business, idleness, or sleep, a single Sabbath; that he could ever be absent from the sanctuary; that he could wander after covetousness and pleasure, during a single prayer, or neglect to hear and ponder a single sermon; that he was not engrossed by the voice of the Divine Charmer, charming him with infinite wisdom and tenderness to life eternal; that he did not tremble at the word of the Lord resounding in his ears the guilt, the danger, and final doom of all the workers of iniquity, and proclaiming to him glad tidings of great joy. How naturally, how passionately will he now exclaim,
Oh that my lost and squandered days might once more return; that I might again go up to the house of God; that I might again, in the invaluable season of youth, before my sins had become a burden so heavy and so grievous to be borne, be present at the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and praise, and again hear the Divine voice calling me to faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the possession of endless glory! Were a thousand worlds mine, how cheerfully would I give them all, for one day to be spent in the courts of the Lord! year, one month, one Sabbath, might be wretched forfeited life! But ah! the day of my wishes, nay, my prayers are in vain. eternity which opens before me, no Sabbath will ever dawn upon my wishful eyes; no sanctuary will unfold the gates of peace and life; no prayers will ever find a gracious ear; no praises will ever ascend to heaven; no sermon will ever call wandering and perishing sinners to repentance; no proffers of endless life will ever be made; the charming sound of a Saviour's voice will never more be heard, and the music of salvation will be dumb for ever.
Oh that one added to my is past;
Such will be the natural retrospect of a dying sinner. What will be his prospects? Before him, robed in all his terrors, stands Death, the messenger of God, now come to summon him away. To whom is he summoned? To that Judge from whose sentence there is no appeal-from whose eye there is no concealment- from whose hand there is no escape. Through the last agonies, lies his gloomy dreadful passage into the unseen world, his path to the bar of God. What a passage! what an interview! He, a hardened, rebellious, impious, ungrateful wretch, who has wasted all the means of salvation, prostituted his talents, squandered his time, despised his Maker, crucified afresh the Lord of glory, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace, now comes before that glorious and offended God, who knows all the sins which he has committed. He is here, without an excuse to plead, without a cloak to cover his guilt. What would he