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to him, who only can save them ; and by God's blessing, I have reason to hope that my labour has not been entirely in vain. The thoughts of being useful to my tellow immortals, and the prospect of spending an eternity with those whom I have been any way instrumental in awakening, advising, comforting and benefiting, give me a pleasure which the world can never bestow.”
Fourthly, in consequence of being in Christ, you have lived more to your own advantage.
Sinners are not only spending their time idly and unprofitably, but, by adding sin to sin, they are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Every day that they live, increases their guilt, and produces an addition of fuel to that fire which shall never be quenched. But far otherwise, Ohow widely diffea rent is it with true christians when they are in Christ, and live suitably to their Christian character! They are laying up treasures in heaven, adding to the weight and lustre of their crown, and increasing their eternal joy and glory. Must it not then be comfortable to think ?-So many years I have attended to the one thing needful. So long ago I began to trade with those talents which my Lord thought fit to intrust me with ; and from that time my spiritual gains have, I hope, been increasing. So many years have I been sowing: sometimes, indeed, it has been in tears, but I expect a joyful harvest. So long I have been trimming my lamp, and preparing to meet the heavenly Bridegroom. So many years I have been busy in plucking up the roots of bitterness within me, and in cultivating those graces which infinite good
ness, I trust, has implanted. So long I have been directing my views towards heaven, and been improving my acquaintance with those blessed beings with whom, I hope, I shall live for ever; that when I come among them, I may not appear a stranger to their work or their pleasures. From such a period I began to consult my truest interest; and I think of the years since that period with some degree of delight, and hope to reap the blessed fruit of what grace has enabled me to do for ever and ever.”
From what has been said, we infer, that if it be comfortable to Christians of some standing, to reflect on the years they have been in Christ, it should humble them to consider how many years they had lived without him.
Many who are now rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and stand high in the favour of God, once rejected and resisted a multitude of means. They long suffered the blessed Jesus to stand at the door and knock, and sent him many times away, grieved at the blindness of their minds, and the hardness of their hearts. O remember those sad and guilty years in which you were offensive to God, servants to sin, and heirs of destruction. Be ashamed to think that you should have lived so long, easy and contented, in such a wicked and wretched condition; that you should have heard so much of Christ, and yet not have perceived his beauty and excellency; that you should have received so many favours from him, before you apprehended your obligation to serve him; that you
should have spent so many years without ever sincerely thanking him for his wonderful condescension, in living and dying to save us from ruin. No serious
mind can reflect upon it without sorrow and shame, Something of this seems to be implied in that expression of the Apostle, “ And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” It grieved him to think that he should be behind all the rest of the apostles in this respect; that he should have wasted so many years, not merely in ignorance of Christ, but in actual opposition to him and his people. However, he hence takes occasion to admire the riches of his grace, that he should at last find mercy: and he endeavoured, by flaming zeal, and indefatigable diligence, to express his gratitude for such distinguishing mercy. So should we do, when we look back on the many years that we lost before we set out in the Christian race. We should adore that goodness which inclined our hearts to begin it. We should lay aside every weight, and the sin that most easily besets us; and whatever our hand finds to do, we should do it with all our might.
But what a melancholy reflection have they to make who are not in Christ!
How overwhelming should it be to consider, that so much time has been spent, and not one day of it to any good purpose! Nothing done for your souls and eternity! Others have been convinced, and converted; while, under the same means, you have continued unmoved.
Several of your fellow-worshippers are removing to the general assembly and church of the first-born, while you remain to cumber the ground; and if you should be taken away in your present condition, you would be shut up with very different company. Can you think of this, and not weep, and wonder, and
tremble at your guilt and danger ? Consider, that God keeps an exact account how many proposals of salvation you have had. Every sabbath, every sermon, every impression upon your minds, are all noted down in his book; and the longer your day of grace has been extended, the more will it swell your guilt that you have dared to stand all the day idle. Think of this, ye that are far advanced in years; you that are come to the last stage of life, and are within sight of the valley of the shadow of death. Look back on the time which you have lost, and consider how miserable you will be if you should linger till the door be shut; and after such a multitude of invitations, should die in your sins !
Let those who have hitherto lived out of Christ seek an union with him without delay.
Many,when they are exhorted to submit themselves to Christ, do not give him a positive denial ; but say as Felix to Paul, “Go thy way for this time,and when I have a convenient season, I will send for thee: At present I am otherwise engaged. I have so much business, that I have not time to think about religion." Or,“I am so happy in youthful amusements, that I am not disposed to be serious yet.” Or, “ I am so inti. mate with persons,who, having no religion themselves, would banter and laugh at me, that I am ashamed to discoverany inclination to seriousness.” Such as these are the excuses with which many satisfy and deceive themselves. But let me tell you, that God demands a present compliance. Behold now is the accepted time. Behold now is the day of salvation. It is not a matter of mere convenience: It is at the peril of your souls, if you be not speedily united to Christ. There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby you can be saved; no possibility of dying comfortably, or lifting up your head in the day of judgment, if you be found out of Christ. Let me urge you then, without a moment's delay, to apply to this only and all-sufficient Saviour. What a memorable day will this be, if it should be the date of your spiritual life! How delightful will it be, if
you should live to old age, to be able to say with Obadiah, “ I, thy servant, have feared the Lord from my youth." How happy will it be to have the good works of so many years, and graces of so long standing, follow you to heaven! And if earnestness and affection could prevail, not one of the many thoughtless souls now before me, should leave this house, before that blessed union with Christ were resolved upon, and begun,
Finally, let those who have been some years in Christ, see that their fruitfulness be answerable to their standing
Otherwise it will damp their joy, and dishonour the glorious Head to which they profess to be joined. They who have been long planted in the house of the Lord, should be great proficients in grace; and they who have had least time, should have something to show ; for Christ is full of quickening, sanctifying virtue, and ready to impart it. It were a shame for those who, for the time, ought to be teachers, to need to be taught, which are the first principles of the oracles of God. Have you been in Christ fourteen or twenty years, or a longer, or a shorter period, and have you brought forth no more fruit to his praise ? Have you not imbibed more of the temper and spirit