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If we die without a change, we must remain for ever unholy. Oh! what awakening inquiries does this thought suggest ! Am I renewed by the Holy Spirit? What are my delights and my desires ? Is my heart a temple of God, or is it still the seat of sin?- Then, the means of restoring us to the enjoyment of God will be withdrawn. Yet he says, “ Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.” Prophets and apostles, though dead, yet speak to us. They reveal a Mediator, who gave himself a ransom for us, that believing in him,
we might have life through his name.' His ministers are still beseeching us to be reconciled to God, and assuring us that with open arms he stands ready to receive us. Shall we slight their invitations ? The loss will soon appear to be all our own, and irrecoverable! How short the term, during which these inquiries are to be resolved ! The sound of pardon reaches not beyond this world. Then, finally, shall the sinner's heart give up its last hope; his joy will be turned into heaviness.
In anticipation, behold the Judge upon his throne, calling you to answer these inquiries at his bar : “What have you done with all the time of your life in yonder world? You spent there, twenty-forty-seventy years; and I gave you during those years, a thousand opportunities and means of grace and salvation. What have you done with them all! How many Sabbaths did I afford! How
sermons have you heard ! How many seasons did I give you for
prayer and retirement, and converse with God and your own soul ! Have you improved time by receiving the offered Saviour, by believing on Him to the saving of your soul ? Did you pray and converse with your soul and with God ? Or did you suffer time to glide away in follies, and neglect the one thing needful ?" If your conscience should plead guilty, who knows the keenness of that agony with which you
“O wretched man that I am ! God hath spoken to me by a parent, by a minister, and by his word; but I have neglected them all, and ruined my soul!"
How useful a practice would it be, for professing Christians often, and especially when entering on a new year, to suppose themselves at the end of time; to imagine themselves at the tribunal of Christ; to call their souls to a solemn account in what manner they have passed time hitherto. Give me leave, my reader, to suggest a few particular inquiries for your serious consideration. Have you not slumbered, or squandered away, too much
time without any useful purpose or design? How many are there, who, when they have morning hours on their hands,
in their beds, and lose their time in “ little more sleep, and a little more slumber !” A few trifles, with breakfast and dressing, wear out the morning, while God is quite forgotten. And how many afternoon and evening hours pass away in the like sauntering idleness, without one half hour's useful work, from the dawn to the hour of rest! Time is gone! and as they knew not what to do with it while present, so now they know not how it has been employed; they keep no account of it, and are never prepared to come to a reckoning. Will the Judge of all accept this as an answer to such a solemn inquiry ?
Have you not spent more time than was needful in recreations and pleasures? Recreations are not unlawful, so far as they are necessary and proper to relieve the fatigue of the spirits when tired with business and labour, and to prepare for new employments. But have you not followed them beyond due bounds? Has not some of that time been spent in them, which should have been laid out in preparing for death and eternity? And when your Bible and your closet, or the devotion of your family, have called upon your conscience, have you not turned a deaf ear to them all ?
Have you not wasted time in useless, impertinent visits, when your conversation has been worldly and unedifying, and when both you and your friends have been at a loss what to say, and knew not how to fill up the time? Yet these visits must go on, and time must be wasted ! Has not scandal on persons or families been indulged in ? while not one word of God or his goodness could find room to enter in, and relieve the dull hour. Is none of this time to be accounted for ? How will it sound in the ears of your Judge, to say, ran to these topics, and stories, and trifles, because we knew not how to spend our time !"
Have you not been guilty of frequent delays, or neglects in the necessary business of life, or in the solemn duties of religion, by busying yourself in some needless thing, under the pretence, “It is time enough yet?” Have you learnt that important and eternal rule of prudence, “ Never delay till to-morrow what may be done to-day; never put off till the next hour, what may be done in this?". Solomon tells us, There is a time for every purpose and every work under the sun; and it is the business and care of a wise man to do proper work in proper time; but when we have let slip the
proper season, oft-times it has happened that we could never do that work or business at all, because another proper season for it has never offered ; time in this respect has been no more. Felix put off his discourse with Paul, about faith, and righteousness, and judgment to come, to a more convenient time, which time probably never came. (Acts xxiv. 25.) And the word of God teaches us, that if we neglect salvation in this present day of grace, the angel is ready to swear, “ that our time shall be no longer.”
What time may yet be before you, God only knows; the remnant of your days is with him, and every evening the number is diminished. Let not another rising sun, another commencing year, upbraid you with continued negligence. Remember your
former abuse of hours, and months, and years, spent in vanity and triffing. Let these thoughts of your past conduct impress your heart, to keep you ever vigorous in present duty. Since you have been loitering in your Christian course in time past, take daily larger steps ; and stretch all the powers of your soul, to hasten toward the prize and the crown. Hearken with more attention to the voice of God, in his word ; pray to a long-suffering God, with double fervency; cry aloud, and give him no rest, tili your sinful soul be changed into penitence, and renewed to holiness; till you have some good evidence of your
sincere love to God, and unfeigned faith in his Son Jesus. Never be satisfied till, through grace, you come to a well-grounded hope that God is your Friend, your Father in Christ.
And if you have God for your friend, dear reader, how happy will
be when time shall come to an end, for then darkness and difficulties shall no longer be felt. Then you shall no more wander in mistake and folly: you shall behold all things in the light of God; and see him face to face, who is goodness in its essence, and the eternal truth. You shall see him without veils and shadows, without the reflecting glass of his word and ordinances. You shall see him in bimself, and in his Son, “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,” and shall know as you are known. Then there shall be no more temptation and danger. When once you have got beyond this world, there shall be no more doubting and fear about your interest in the Father's love, or in the salvation of his Son.
Then there is no more place for sin to dwell in you : its habitation in
will end, when the body falls into the dust : you shall feel no more its powerful and defiling operations, either in heart or life, for ever. Your conflict with your spiritual adversaries shall be ended ; there is no more warfare betwixt the flesh and the spirit; no more combat with the world and the devil, who, by a thousand ways, have attempted to deceive, and to bear you off from your heavenly hope. Your warfare is accomplished; your victory is complete : you are made even more than a conqueror, through Him that loved you, and gave himself for you."
There is no more time for you to be vexed with the society of sinners. Your spirit within you shall be no more disquieted with the evil conversation of the wicked. The time of dis. tance and absence from God is no more. You shall be made a“ pillar in the temple of God, and shall go no more out :" he shall love you like himself, and kindle the flames of your love to so intense a degree as is known only to angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. There shall be no more pain in the flesh or in the spirit. God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes, and death itself shall be no more.
It is finished ! said our blessed Lord on the cross.- It is finished ! may all his followers say, at the hour of death, and at the end of time: my sins, my follies, iny distresses, and my sufferings, are all finished for ever. They are vanished, and shall never return. O happy soul, who hast so wisely improved the short and uncertain number of your days on earth, as to make an early provision for a removal to heaven! Blessed are you, above all the powers of present thought and language! Your days, and months, and years, shall be swallowed up in a blissful eternity. The stream of time, which has borne you along amidst many dangerous rocks of temptation, fear, and sorrow, shall launch you out into the ocean of pleasures which have no period ; of felicities which are everlasting, where duration has no limits; where time, with all its measures, is lost in vast eternity.
But the most extended charity will not permit the belief that all the readers of this tract are friends of God by faith in Christ Jesus. And to all who continue atenmity with Him, how unutterably awful will be the end of time! Now, they harden their hearts in forgetfulness of God; then, he will be revealed before them in all the glory of holiness, in all the majesty of power. Now, the love of the Saviour is neglected and despised; then, the wrath of the Lamb shall strike horror and despair into the hearts of all his enemies. Now, wicked men and foes of God participate in his goodness; then, the “ wicked shall be turned into hell,” and suffer the
inflictions of his wrath. At present, the wicked enjoy many of the comforts of society; in eternity, lost spirits and ruined human souls will be their only companions. While time lasts, hope sustains the soul of man, but into the world of perdition hope never enters. While time lasts, God is waiting to be gracious; Christ is still saying, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved." Therefore, O sinners, be warned, hear, believe, and obey; for soon to one and all, time shall be no longer!
Eternity is just at haud !-
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