Imatges de pàgina

feel dissatisfied with himself, and desirous of a change in his situation. The common or providential operations of the Spirit of God are experienced in all lands, and in all ages, to a greater or less degree, according to the knowledge which men possess. As this knowledge, in Christian lands, and under the preaching of the word, is infinitely greater than in places destitute of the light of revelation, so the ordinary strivings of the Spirit are more powerful among those of the former, than among those of the latter class. I cannot conceive of a heart so hardened, of a conscience so seared, of affections so perfectly corrupted, as not once in a whole life to be softened, or awakened, or moved, by the solemn and all-important truths which God has revealed to the children of men. However short that period may be, in which these truths have produced some effect, it answers the idea affixed to a day of grace, and an accepted time. The sinner is then in the situation in which the maimed and halt were, when the angel troubled the waters of the pool of Bethesda. It is a critical season; it may be the only one he will ever enjoy. The effect, though par

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tial, is an indication of divine mercy ; an evidence that he is not abandoned by God; an affecting and awfully solemn admonition to seize the opportunity thus kindly afforded.

Thirdly, When multitudes in every direction are pressing into the kingdom, they who are still without, ought to consider it a day in which the things belonging to their peace may be known.

The stately steppings of God are then seen in the sanctuary. He then proves, beyond a doubt, that his word is truth. He addresses not merely the understanding and the conscience, but the very senses of men. The conversion of sinners in numbers, is one of those arguments which God uses, that defy the sophistry, the cavils, and the reasonings of enemies to refute. Take a case like that of Saul. From a persecuting Pharisee, he became a minister of the cross. Take the case of the three thousand on the day of Pentecost. "They were pricked in their "heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest "of the apostles, Men and brethren, what "shall we do?" But why should we

b Acts ii. 37.

resort to cases so remote? Take the case of those who, in neighbouring States; in neighbouring places; in this city; nay, in this congregation, have embraced the -faith which they once neglected, or despised. How will you account for the fact, that men who, as you know, once were careless about their souls, now are careful; who once preferred their own pleasure to God's glory, now sacrifice that pleasure for the cause of Christ? They were once persons devoted to the world, as others are: but now they have forsaken the world. They are as moral, according to the standard of morality which is current in the world, as they ever were; but, in addition to this, they have become religious. They are changed, and that in important respects; not for the worse surely; the slander cannot be conceived, and, because there is no foundation for it, cannot be uttered. They are changed for the better; because, in addition to the duties they owe to others, they strive to perform those which they owe to God. Such a change, effected not in one,


many-in many of both sexes-of all ages, characters, and situations, is an evidence su


perior in force to that which supports a mathematical proposition. I speak as unto wise men. Judge ye! To those who reject such evidence, I would say, yet not I, but God says, and may his awful declaration sink deep into their hearts, " Beware, "therefore, lest that come upon you, which "is spoken of in the prophets. Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I "work a work in your days, a work which 66 ye shall in no wise believe, though a man "declare it unto you." But though we thus speak, we hope better things of you, brethren. We trust in God, that none of this description are within these walls. Of them we must say, "Though one rose from "the dead, they would not believe;" for the evidence of such a resurrection is not greater than that of the moral resurrection of which we have been speaking; a resurrection from the death of sin to holiness of life. They who witness such changes, such resurrections in numbers, enjoy a special season, a day in which they may know the things belonging to their


b Acts xiii. 40, 41.

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We proceed to consider,

III. The fearful truth, that this day may terminate, and the things belonging to our peace may be hid from our eyes. As it had its beginning, so it will have its close, or end; and that end may come before it has been so improved as to qualify us for eternal happiness.

Generally speaking, the day, both in its restricted and extensive sense, terminates with death. They who do not then know the things which belong unto their peace, will find no opportunity to acquire this knowledge. As death leaves us, eternity will find us. Whatever our hands find to do, we must do with all diligence, "as "there is no work, nor device, nor know"ledge, nor wisdom in the grave'," to which we are hastening. This truth is inculcated, in the most solemn manner, by our Lord in the parable of the ten virgins. The foolish virgins, who had slept and slumbered until the midnight cry was heard, could not enter with the Bridegroom. Their day was spent in folly, and the night overtook them whilst the things belonging to their from their eyes.

peace were hid

c Eccles. ix. 10.

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