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Bible our creed—we must make its precepts our rule of conduct, and the example of Christ our guide. In defiance of the suspicion of hypocrisy, or the reproach of extravagance, we must endeavour to make our practice agree with our professions, and exhibit some resemblance of that embodied form of virtue presented for our imitation by the Redeemer
That this is a plain unexaggerated statement of a Christian's duty, not one who hears me will deny. How few that act up to the standard, and yet we all speak peace to our souls.Yes, my brethren, peace where there is no peace.
The soothing charm, which lulls to rest our conscience, is the half-formed resolution of amendment for the future, the determination to break off our sins by righteousness at some more convenient time, and then to give up every thought of the soul to religion. Of all the snares which the tempter of man has spread for his wretched victims, this is the most dangerous, this is the most successful. It requires but the penetration of the most ignorant among us—it requires but the experience of the most youthful, to point out numerous instances of those who rushed along the broad way that leadeth to destruction, gratifying every evil passion in riotous indulgence for the present, and silencing the whispers of conscience in dreams of fancied virtue for the future, till the earth yawned and swallowed up their vain projects, to retain its prey till the trumpet of the last day shall compel it to give up the wretched trembling sinner, to the tribunal of his offended and insulted Creator. from that yawning gulph their cry strikes upon our ear, from the grave of those who have preceded us in this gay scene, issues a voice which but re-echoes the warning call of the Prophet.—Oh, that it reached our heart, and moved us to earnest and true repentance—that it brought forth the fruit of good living, and taught us to walk more warily in these dangerous days. Turn not from this as trite and familiar coinmonplace. Turn not from the words of soberness and truth. Let the Minister of God stand between the living and the dead, and stay the plague. Let the Minister of God stand between you and those who have been cut off in their career of vice, that he may teach you to make the offering that will be most acceptable in the sight of your God, not the sweet savour of incense, but the sacrifice of an humble and contrite heart. In this the house of the Lord, in this solemn place where we are surrounded by the relics of mortality, by the mouldering bodies of
those who once rejoiced to run their course in this world, can I fail in impressing upon your minds that your time is short, that the end of all things is at hand ? By all your hopes of immortality I conjure you, give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
But, my brethren, there is another consideration implied in the exhortation of the Prophet--one of infinite importance, that the spirit of God does not always strive with man, that the means of grace may be withdrawn, that there is a period after which there will be no ear to hear, nor voice to answer ; that our return to the Lord must be while he is near, while he may be found. Oh, that I could enforce upon the minds of each of you, my brethren, this important truth, that I could rouse you from your state of false security, resting upon vague and unsettled notions of the unlimited mercy of God, and upon chimerical projects of future repentance and future conversion. If such be your expectation, as surely as there is a God, your's is the slumber of death. I do not address to you the fallible deductions of human reason, I ad
dress to you the word of God himself. Hear his declaration communicated by his servants of old-Because I have called and ye refused, I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh, when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer— Because they refused to hearken, and stopped their ears that they should not hear, therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried and they would not hear, so they cried and I would not hear, saith the Lord of Hosts.
From the exhortations of the ancient Prophets let us turn to the address of the Baptist, when preparing the way for the gospel of truth, when endeavouring to rouse and to save his erring countrymen.
in the desert was that the time was short-that the axe was put unto the root of the trees—that the day of the Lord was coming—that his fan was in his hand, that he would purge his floor, and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Shall we quote the authority of a greater even than the greatest of Prophets, when weeping over the fall of his country our Saviour exclaims, If thou hadst known, even thou at least, in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace—but now they are hid from thine eyes-awful declamation-now they are hid from thine eyes. Do we hesitate to apply these warnings to ourselves? Do we cling with fond and lingering attachment to our false ideas of security, and refer these denunciations to the miraculous close of the Jewish government, the final withdrawing of God's favour from his chosen people? What a melancholy instance of obstinate perverseness and wilful blindnesswe will not hear the awful language which applies all these ensamples to us professing Christians, which tells us all these things were written for our admonition, to warn us that we are hazarding the loss, not of earthly splendour or transitory greatness, but of a crown of glory, of fulness of joy at the right hand of God, which shall endure through successive ages, when the heavens shall have passed away, the earth also, and the works that are therein. Hear with what impressive solemnity St. Paul enforces this application upon his converts : Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance, but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.