« PreviousContinue »
necessary, that any such influence should be exerted. Only let the singer persist in turning a deaf ear to the invitations of the Gospel- let him “throw on headlong appetite the slackened rein”-let him, like an iudependent man, recklessly resolve to live as he lists—let him, in a word, give himself up to the impulse of his own natural affections—and he will sink to the world of wo, by a law as uniform and imperative as that which brings down unsupported bodies to the earth—as that which hurries the mountain stream over every obstacle, until, at last, it finds its way to the ocean in wbich it is to be merged and lost for ever.
Brethren, let us learn from our subject to day the importance of a close and unremitting attention to our spiritual interests. It is only by timely and strenuous and untiring exertions, that these interests can be securedthat the inestimable blessings of salvation can be obtained. Indolence, which, in all pursuits, is inimical to success, is particularly so in the high concerns of religion. There is not a being through all the ranks of the redeemed in heaven-not an individual of our race in the wbole throng of rejoicing spirits around the throne of God—who is more than scarcely saved. Of how much consequence, then, is it, that we, probationers for eternity, should give all diligence to make our calling and election sure! O! let us not exhaust our energies—let us not squander our days— in occapations and amusements, which have no fitness to advance our immortal welfare. Let us strive to enter in at the strait gate-let us work while it is called to daylet us live as becomes those who have a business to accomplish, of no less magnitude and difficulty than the salvation of our souls. To loiter and trifle with such a task before us, is a kind and a degree of infatuation, for which no terms sufficiently expressive can be found in the entire range of human language. He who should deliberately cast himself upon his couch for repose, as he saw the flames enkindling about his edifice, were a wise man compared with the fool who exclaims, A little sleep and a little slumber, when he has not yet made his peace with God—when the stupendous work of religion remains unexecuted.
And, brethren, let us distinctly learn from our subject the danger—the awful danger-of continuance in habits of inattention to the established means of grace. The victim of such habits is dead while he lives. He is lost amid the noon-tide effulgence of the day of salvation. God only knows, how many in our present audience are in this deplorable state. You have been sitting for years under the Gospel's sound. Who can tell the opportunities which you have failed to improve? Who can number the sermons to which you have listened in vain? And have you no fear, that the sentence which Ephraim brought upon himself, may go forth against you—“ He is joined to idols, let him alone?" Ah! dear hearers, we would not have you presume too much on the forbearance of your Maker. There is—believe us—there is a limit to his patience. And will you-can you-persist in the neglect of the great salvation which we now once more tender to your acceptance? If you will-if you canwe have nothing more to say, except that the period is coming, when you may wish, and, perhaps, vainly wish, , that you had acted otherwise. Yes, on the bed of death, you may be racked with feelings similar to those of Saul, when, in the frenzy of his despair, be sought to bring back the spirit of a departed saint to his relief. You may then inquire of Jehovah through the medium of his Wordthrough the medium of your own prayers, and those of your pious relatives and friends--and he will not answer
you. You may send for the ministers of the gospel, and they shall afford you no comfort. They will not, indeed, venture to address you in the language of Samuel to the Jewish potentate, for God has given them no authority to pronounce on the future destiny of any human being. But conscience, in a voice terrific as if it emanated from the unseen world, where disembodied spirits dwell, may say to the dying sinner, " The Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy.”
We cannot conclude, without saying a word particularly to the youth in our assembly. It has been already intimated, that the morning of human life is the most auspicious season for producing religious impressions, and fixing religious habits. We well know that the young are too prone to commune with themselves in some such strain as this : Our Maker, whose benignity towers above all his other attributes, has evidently destined us for enjoyment. To indulge the passions which he himself has inplanted in our nature, cannot be criminal. We may, therefore, spend the early part of our existence in the moderate pursuit of pleasure, and devote the residue to the calls of piety.” But does language of this description accord with the solemn lessons inculcated in the Bible? Point us to that portion of the inspired record, which sanctions the tenour of conduct you propose to adopt. The exhortation of the wise man is “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the
evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou + shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Hesitate not,
we entreat you, to follow the preacher's judicious advice. If you neglect religion when young, the probability is so strong as to amount almost to a certainty, that you will do no better when old. And here allow us distinctly and emphatically to assure you, that the course which we now recommend to you, instead of interfering, as you might erroneously imagine, with any rational scheme of felicity, is calculated to subserve alike your present and your future well-being. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Wisdom's ways are pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. The New Testament condemns no pursuits, it prohibits no enjoyments, that consist with the true dignity and ultimate security of man. 0! if happiness be the object of which you are in quest -happiness in the largest sense of the term, temporal, spiritual, and eternal—happiness suited to the capacities of intelligent, moral, and immortal beings,-come to the gospel; believe on Christ; obey his precepts—imitate his example. Then shall you obtain the pardon of sin, peace of conscience, and hearts fitted for the love and service of your God. Then shall you enjoy, in moderation and contentment, the substantial blessings of this life, and look forward to a bright and unfading inheritance beyond the grave. In short, then you need not fear that the Lord will ever depart from you, and become your enemy. He will be always near you. He will be
JOB XV. 16.
“How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity
The most casual reader of the sacred Scriptures, must be struck with the peculiar style which they adopt, when adverting to the moral state of the world. They describe the degeneracy and wickedness of men, in language far more glowing and pungent, in a tone of reprehension infinitely more authoritative and severe, than is met with in any other writings. The ethical productions of Cicero and Seneca—the courtly sarcasms of Horace, and the sterner invectives of Juvenal-leave upon the mind a. very different impression as to the nature, the extent, and the consequences of human depravity, from that produced by a perusal of the Bible. No uninspired moralist or poet, belonging either to ancient or to modern times, bas ever intimated, or ever thought, that the corruption of our race is any thing like what the pages of divine revelation affirm.
These remarks are amply illustrated by the passage now before us. We have here the strongest terms, and the most expressive figure, employed to impress us with a just idea of the depraved condition of mankind.—T'he words were uttered by Eliphaz the Temanite, in a conversation with the pious, but afflicted, citizen of Uz. “ What is man that he should be clean ? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous ? Behold,