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and at best, must leave unfinished the business of religion, that very work for which we were brought into existence.
Let this subject, however, not be misunderstood. All whose hearts, even upon a death-bed, are really changed, from an irreligious to a religious state-all who, through the assistance of divine grace, are brought to a living and influential faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to a deep and fruitful repentance, for all their sins—such a faith and repentance as manifest themselves immediately, by the anxious inquiry," what must I do to be saved ?" By a hungering and thirsting after righteousness—by an ardent desire and endeavour to learn and do God's will and by all those present fruits of righteousness and holiness, which the nature of the case admits; such as, the forgiveness of enemies, and reconciliation with them, restitution to those whom they have injured or defrauded, and the earnest, heartfelt, persevering performance of the duties, of hearing or reading the Scriptures, selfexamination, devout meditation, confession of sins, thanksgiving for mercies, and prayer for all needed blessin gsmall who are brought to, and who die in this state--all whose principles, whose heart and whose conduct are thus changed, will be justified, have their sins forgiven, and be counted righteous before God, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. But as most sick bed repentances, turn out to be fallacious, and unfruitful, and are therefore, apparent only, and not real; so also there is great reason to fear, that a death-bed repentance, is sel. dom, very seldom a“ repentance unto Salvation.” O, as you value everlasting happiness, and as you dread ever. lasting suffering, delay not, but make haste to keep God's commandments! To-day, while you hear his voice, harden not your hearts: but“ repent, and turn from all your transgressions, that iniquity may not be your ruin." Fifthly–After all, setting aside the extreme danger, and uncertainty, of a death-bed repentance; if all who go to Heaven, were to be equally happy, the danger of delay would not be quite so great. But it is reasonable to suppose, and Scripture teaches us to believe, that there are prepared for us, rewards and punishments, of all pos. sible degrees, from the most exalted happiness, down to extreme misery ; according to the different degrees of sin and holiness, that are found in the human character. So that a thorough and Evangelical repentance, in the last stages of life, though it lifts you above Hell, will leave you among the lowest grades in Heaven. For God says, “ he that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and “ he that soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.” And immense as is the distance between the lowest in Heaven, and the highest in Hell-great as is the difference between those in glory, that are made rulers “ over one city,” and those in misery, that are “beaten with few stripes"—the distance may be equally immense, the difference may be equally great, between the lowest and the highest, “the least,” and “the greatest,” in the kingdom of God. O sinner, if you are ever brought to repentance, before death, you know not how much you will lose, by your present delay! O ye lukewarm professors, who are satisfied with the bare possession of spiritual life; and who seek not to have it “ abundantly,” you know not how much you will lose, throughout eternity, for not growing more in grace, abounding more in the work of the Lord, and bringing forth more fruit to the glory of his name.
All indeed that are admitted to Heaven, will have their “joys full.” But those who can, from this consideration, suffer themselves to sink into comparative inactivity, have great reason to fear, that while they have “ the name to live," they are really dead. But even if it be otherwise,
Shame! Ineffable shame! is it to you Christian, that you are so sluggish, and take so little interest, in a cause that ought to call forth all your zeal, all your activity, and all your energies. O, forget not, that you are “bought with a price, even the precious blood of the Son of God:” and that you ought therefore to “glorify God both with your body and your spirit which are his.” “I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
From what has been said, it appears that the longer you delay to keep God's commandments, the further you are departing from happiness-the deeper you are sinking into ruin. By every individual sin, by every hour's delay, you are "heaping up wrath against the day of wrath.” Like a man building a pile, on which to burn himself to death, every time you commit a sin, you are bringing another faggot, to enlarge the heap, and increase the flame-you are only multiplying the arrows, with which divine justice will transfix your heart! Whereas, the sooner you begin to keep God's commandments, the farther you may rise towards that perfection of happiness, which Jesus, in mercy, reserves for his saints.
If this be the case, how dangerous, nay how fatal, is delay! And will you still postpone your religious duties to a more convenient season? Do you talk of convenience, and by and by, when the question is, whether you will rise into the happiness of Heaven, or sink into the misery of Hell? When life is so short and uncertain when the work of salvation is so great-when it only becomes more and more difficult, the longer you put it off —when it is scarcely ever well done, or even half done, if delayed to the last years of life when every day's delay, removes us farther and farther from God and happinessand when almost all,who do thus delay, die without having it in their power to repent—how can you, dying immortals ! how can you, children of reason! how can you, lovers of happiness ! how can you continue to trifle and procrastinate ? When will you be wise—when will you
consider your latter end? Will it be time enough at what you call the eleventh hour, on the bed of death? O consider, Lastly, what will you do, if at, or before that time, God withdraws his grace-ends your day of trial and gives you over to destruction ? His spirit will “not al
ways strive” with rebellious man: and you may, by your obstinacy, provoke him, to give you over to your “own devices.” And should he cast you off as reprobate, alas ! alas ! “ Hell will be a refuge, if it hide you from his “frown.”
Oh! then, be wise in time, and “ give all diligence,” to work out your salvation. “Make haste and delay not “ to keep God's commandments.” 'Trust me, there is not a glorified Saint in Heaven, who, while on earth, did not labour to make his “calling and election sure." And could we put the question to those miserable exiles from happiness, who dwell among the Apostate damned; could
you ask them, what brought them to that state of misery; millions of voices, from the infernal pit, would rise in peals of thunder, roaring out delay! delay! delay! SERMON III.
ON KEEPING THE HEART.
PROVERBS IV. 23. * Keep thy Heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of
By the heart, in the language of the sacred Scriptures, is very commonly to be understood not only the affections, according to the sense of the term, as it is usually received with us, but the whole mind, with all its faculties, its thoughts, emotions, inclinations, and desires. When it is said of the Gentiles, “ They became vain in their
imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened,” the import evidently is, that their understanding was obscured and misguided. They used their reason amiss, wandered from the truth, and became involved in ignorance and error. When we read in the epistle to the Hebrews, “ Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, to-day ye
will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in “the provocation, in the day of temptation in the Wilder.
ness,” it is manifest that St.Paul speaks not with imme. diate reference, as before, to the understanding, but to the frowardness of the will, prompting the Israelites to disobedience. Yet the Apostle, who well understood the language of the Spirit, and of the people also to whom he wrote, presently afterwards uses the same term with a view to their reason and their knowledge perversely misapplied. “Wherefore I was greived with that gene. ration, and said, They do always err in their heart, and