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"THE NIGHT COMETH;"
THE SOUL IN DANGER.
"The night cometh."-John ix. 4.
How full of instruction are the discourses of the Saviour! He truly "spake as never man spake." This is instanced in the portion of scripture at the head of this page. Christ had condescended to give a reason why he would open the eyes of a blind man, whom he had just seen and graciously noticed. He had a work to accomplish. The period he had assigned to himself, in which to effect that work, was so limited, that he calls it a "day"-only a "day"-"the day;" and consequently night, or the time for cessation from labour, would soon arrive. "The night cometh." How comprehensive is this language! Here the duty of active exertion, and the obligation to improve present opportunities for usefulness, are urged upon us in one sentence," while it is day;" and the sin of neglect, and the danger of delay, exhibited to us in these three words,—“ the night cometh."
And did our Lord, whose existence was eternal-" who has neither beginning nor ending of days,"-deem it wise to economize time? Did he deem it right to improve present opportunities-not to lose moments-and to do good, because of approaching periods, when times and seasons for labour would cease? How much more should we, who are only the creatures of a day,-whose longest life is, at its utmost, but brief and whose opportunities for usefulness must soon, very soon, be closed by the night of death, of darkness, and the grave:-"THE NIGHT COMETH !"
From these admonitory words, I might urge many solemn and weighty considerations upon the scholar and student; saying to them,-increase your mental stores, and, like the wise man, be earnest "to know, to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things,"-for "the night cometh," when mind, and time, and life itself will cease. I might exhort the young man, just setting out in life, to "redeem
the time," to be "not slothful in business," to "rise up early and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness,' because soon "the night cometh," when age and infirmities will creep on, and "the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." I might admonish "the lover of pleasure more than the lover of God," and say to him, If ye will pursue the bubble joy, and drink the poisoned stream, and hurry on thy reckless course, remember "the night cometh," when the voice of inspiration will sound in your unwilling ears, "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment !"
There is scarcely a pursuit, or object in life, but may be better done to-day than to-morrow. Promptness, activity, and decision, seldom induce regret, while delay is the precursor to ruin. It does not admit of a doubt, that in everything relating to the soul of man-to the fearful and solemn realities of a future state-"delay is always dangerous," when life, as compared with eternity, is not even a day; "for what is your life? it is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," "a little spot of time between two eternities," followed by an endless night-to some, perhaps, just at hand; for to-night-yes! to-night, God may say to you, "This night thy soul shall be required of thee !" The saint waits for his change, but the sinner has his soul "required" of him.
There are three classes of individuals to whom I am anxious to be rendered useful, by presenting the solemn scripture, so often quoted in these pages, to their consideration :—
I. TO CHRISTIANS, TO INDUCE THEM TO MORE ACTIVITY AND ZEAL.
"I must work while it is day," said Jesus. Christian! behold your exemplar. What! the Master work, and the servant remain idle? How inconsistent! You blush at the thought; then, as preparative to your usefulness and success, let me entreat you,―
1. To secure, in the day of opportunity, a well-grounded hope of your personal salvation. Not only to seek to be safe, but to know you are safe-" Christ in you the hope of glory." With intense earnestness, plead with God, and cry,-"Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation;"-that this may be your rejoicing,-"I know in whom I have believed." See to it,
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY 27, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.
that you possess clear, scriptural views of divine truth;that your faith be genuine, your experience scriptural, and your practice holy. Thus you will become "established in the truth,"-will "grow in grace," will "glorify your Saviour;" and to you the approach of the night of death will be deprived of its gloom, for you will be enabled to say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," and be "made meet" to enter "the inheritance of the saints in light," where,
All o'er those wide-extended plains,
There God the Sun for ever reigns,
2. Let Christians be intensely anxious to do the work of Christians.-"Ye are children of the day;" then their work should bear the light of day. This consists of a full and bright exhibition of the christian character, in all its aspects -in all its demands-in all its high responsibilities;-"let your light so shine before men." The proper work of Christians is the extension of Christianity; the adding to the "cloud of witnesses;" the diminution of the number of the sons of darkness; the accession of gems to the Redeemer's crown. It is to be imbued with holy, untiring anxiety to rescue beings like themselves from going down to the pit; and because "the time is short," to devote every power, consecrate every talent, devise every means, employ every resource, to save souls from death," constantly to remember, that men are always perishing, that therefore we should be always labouring; that the season for activity and usefulness is circumscribed; and that, ere long, the night will come;-it is coming, when our tongues shall be silent-our hands motionless-and our heart pulseless-"for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
II. Let the solemn declaration of the Saviour, that "the night cometh," INDUCE PROFESSORS ΤΟ IMMEDIATE AND
UNRESERVED DECISION IN RELIGION.
These are those who know the way to heaven by the "hearing of the ear," and are "not far from the kingdom," but far enough never to reach the blissful shores of immortality some are young, and suppose and act as if the day of life was long-that its evening is far, far distant-and that hoary locks and threescore years must come, ere the afternoon of their existence shall have passed;-but I tell them it is not so the sun of the young often "goes down while it is
yet day," and the bright summer of youth clouded and shrouded by the dark night of death.
Some have delayed, till the sun of their days is high in the heavens; half their day gone, and no pardon sought-no peace possessed-no heaven secured-no soul saved! the remaining portion of their life will rapidly pass away-"the night cometh." Oh! be aroused from this fearful slumberthis soul-destroying hesitancy-this awful indecision; and this day-this hour-resolve to be on "the Lord's side."
Some have allowed their day to pass on unheeded, till nearly its close. The twilight of evening has appeared; and who is there who does not know how rapidly night succeeds twilight" the night cometh." And what a scene presents itself? An aged man, understanding enough of religion to dread death, but not estimating it sufficiently to seek or desire its possession. The night of the grave will soon shut him in from the world; but his unpardoned sin, and unbelieving heart, will shut him out from heaven. AGED FRIEND! before it is too late, breathe forth this prayer to the God of your life,-"Teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom;" lest you, and every wavering, undecided professor, be overtaken by the night of death, and cast out into outer darkness-where there is no day to alleviate the night-cast into darkness, with memory tracing the past misspent hours of the day of life-gone-wasted—lost for ever!
III. Let the solemn admonition of the Saviour, that "the night cometh," URGE THE SINNER TO REPENTANCE.
Those who have neglected the claims of their immortal souls-resisted the monitions of their consciences-refused the invitations of mercy-and have, to this moment, lived "without God and without hope in the world"-whose unholy lives have been in direct opposition to the word and will of God; his word despised his day dishonoured-his name profaned-his worship and his house forsaken - and the faith denied! Ah! perhaps you have associated with the sceptic and the blasphemer-who, having lived a fool, expects a fool to die. This, sinner, you may do; but one thing you cannot do-you cannot prevent the night coming! The infidel Paine tried, and he could not! Voltaire tried, and he could not! "I will not die," said one in the agonies of death, who had lived a life of folly-"I will not die;" but ah! how vain the resistance-for in that same hour, death struck his dart, and his victim was his own.
Careless, thoughtless, impenitent sinner! How unwise,