Imatges de pÓgina

"hopper is a burden, and desire fails," and you are approaching your "long home," you will not be destitute of consolation. Your "hoary hairs are a crown "of glory," for "they are found in the way of "righteousness." You enjoy the esteem and assistance, of those who have witnessed your worth, and been blessed by your example. God views you as an "old disciple," and "remembers the kindness of your youth." With humble confidence you address Him; "O God! thou hast taught me from my youth; " and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works : "now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, "forsake me not." And what saith the answer of God?" Even to your old age I am he, and even to hoary hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will "bear, even I will carry and will deliver you." You can look back with pleasure on some instances of usefulness; to some poor traveller you have been a refreshing stream; some deluded wanderer you guided into "the path of peace." You review with satisfaction some peculiar places of devotion, some "times of "refreshing from the presence of the Lord," some "holy days" in which, "with the voice of joy and gladness," you accompanied "the multitude to his "house." You look forward, and see the God who has guided you "with his counsel," ready to "re"ceive you to glory." "My salvation is nearer than "when I believed; the night is far spent, the day is at "hand: I know that my Redeemer liveth. I am now "ready to be offered, and the time of my departure “is at hand: I have fought a good fight, I have fin"ished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, "which the Lord the righteous Judge fhall give me at "that day, and not to me only, but unto all them that "love his appearing." Such is the beneficial influence of early piety. It affects our bodies, our circumstan ces, our preservation, our connections, our progress and pleasure in the ways of godliness, the troubles of life, and the burdens of age. But if all these advantages do not allure you to an immediate attention to religion, and you resolve to suspend your concern till a future period, it will be necessary,

PART III. To take a more awful view of the sub

ject, and to examine the consequences of procrastination. We can only make two suppositions; the one' is, that after all your delay, you will obtain repentance; the other, and this is much more probable, is that you will not.

First, We shall conclude that you will obtain repentance. This is what you hope for; but allowing your hope to be well founded, nothing can be more unreasonable than your delay. For would you indulge yourselves in a course of sin, because you hope to be able hereafter to repent of it! Can any thing exceed this extravagance of folly? Would any man in his senses continue in a business, because he hoped that at last it would fill him with painful regret and self abhorrence; because he hoped before his death, to condemn himself for engaging in it, as having acted a part the most foolish, base, and injurious? Real repentance is always an awful thing; it leads the subject of it to feel that his " iniquities are a burden too "heavy for him to bear;" it causes him to "loathe

"himself for all" his "abominations;" it fills him with "shame and confusion of face;" it renders him "speechless." This it does at all times; but in a late repentance, in a repentance after so many criminal de-* lays, there are four peculiar circumstances of aggravation. The first is drawn from your singular abuse of the divine goodness. For what encourages you to refuse so long the obedience which God demands? You hope He will at last shew mercy were it not for this confidence, you could not venture to delay. What then, when you go to God, will be the language of your negligence?"Lord, I have been evil, because thou "wast good it was not because I considered thee an "hard master, that I did not serve thee, but because I "believed thee to be a kind one. Persuaded of thy "compassion, and readiness to pardon, I have peaceably "sinned against thee for sixty years. If thou hadst "not been so infinitely worthy of my affection and "devotion, I had long ago loved and obeyed thee.”— A second arises from the multitude of evil to be reviewed. It is distressing enough to examine a week, or a month, stained with the vileness of sin. But, Oh! to look back upon years! multiplied years! to see sins rushing out of every relation, every condition in which we have been found! So many opportunities lost! so many talents misemployed! so many privileges abused! a life barren of goodness! a whole life of guilt! -A third is taken from injury done to others. If God has forgiven him, how can he forgive himself! By his errors, his vices, his example, and his influence, he has led others into sins, from which he cannot reclaim them; he sees them advancing in the way to

destruction, and knows that he instructed and encouraged them to enter it. Happy is the youth, who, by an early conversion, is preserved from being a cor. "rupter," and who is harmless, if not "useful in his passage through life.". To charge ourselves with the loss of one soul, is sufficient, not only to embitter repentance, but if it were possible, to produce even anguish in heaven.-The fourth is to be found in the uncertainty which necessarily attends such deferred repentance. For how can he be assured of the truth of it? How can he know that he has not only abandoned sin, but is mortified to it? How can he know that he is not only reformed, but renewed? Principles are to be ascertained by their operations and effects; what opportunity has he to exemplify them? How can he know that his concern is any thing more than fear awakened, or tears extorted by the approach of death and judgment? Men may change their work, and not their master. We have seen men in circumstances of sickness, giving all the evidence we could desire of a genuine repentance, whose health, and whose wickedness returned together. How will you decide whether your repentance be superior to this? What reason will you have for cruel suspicion! How dreadful to be in a state of perplexity, when, above all things you need a good hope through grace! To suspend salvation on a venture! Perhaps, I am on the confines of heaven; perhaps, I am on the verge of hell!

Our reasoning has thus far proceeded on a supposition that you will obtain repentance hereafter, though you are resolved to live neglectful of God now. But there is another supposition, you may not obtain


it; and this we contend is much more probable than
the other. For who has told you that you shall live
to repent? Have you made a covenant with death ?
Are you secure from the jeopardy of diseases and ac-
cidents? You expect the Master in the evening, who
assures you that he will not come in the morning?
Stand forth, ye young and ye healthy, did you never
hear of one dying at your age, and in your circum-
ftances? A wise writer has told you that "sixteen is
"mortal as fourscore ;" and an inspired one,
66 man
"also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are
"taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught
"in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an
"evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them."

Or who has assured you that you shall have grace to repent? For to grace only now can you look for the effect; and this grace must be little less than mi raculous. For view a man who has reached the period of your procrastination; his strength is labour and sorrow; the infirmities of the body weigh down the soul; the senses are impaired; the faculties are benumbed; he is incapable of attention; every trifle disconcerts him; he is more than half dead before he begins to think of living; unable any longer to breathe, he is preparing to "run the race set before him;" conscience calling so long in vain, is now silent; objects so long familiar to the mind, are become unimpressive. He has walked by threatenings so often, that they cease to terrify him. The present bible has done nothing, and no new one is to be expected; he has not been led to repentance by "Moses and the "prophets, neither would he be persuaded though


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »