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tracing the course and watching the progress, of events which are occurring here.
3. In view of what has been said, it becomes all who hear me to inquire, and to do it with deep searchings of heart, Who is on the Lord's side? It is a solemn thought, that in the great conflict of which I have spoken, every individual present is actively engaged, somehow, somewhere. Yes, every one now before me-every one on the face of the earth-is an enlisted soldier in this warfare, and is really laboring, either to build up the cause of Christ and pull down that of Satan, or to build up the cause of Satan and pull down that of Christ. My dear friends, where and how do we labor? On which side are we? We all know on which side we ought to be? On which side are we?
We profess, many of us, to be on the Lord's side; and I hope and trust that this profession is sincere. But let us look frequently and closely to this matter. Let us not be deceived. And if we are indeed on the Lord's side, let us maintain our position there steadfastly and consistently. It is one of the artifices of Satan, we have seen, to corrupt the things of Christ, and pervert them, if possible, to his own use. Not unfrequently, he corrupts and perverts, in this way, the people of God. He so far misleads them, and turns them aside, as to bring them into a subserviency to his own designs. They labor for him more than for Christ, and promote his cause more than that of their own master. My Christian brethren, my ministerial brethren, let us be watchful and prayerful in reference to this matter. We ought not to be ignorant of Satan's devices. How dreadful to be so deceived and corrupted by him, that we shall (perhaps without intending it) do more hurt than good in the world-more to pull down, than build up, that holy cause, to which our lives are professedly consecrated!
There are some who hear me who know that they are not on the Lord's side. They know that they have not enlisted under the banner of Christ, and consecrated and devoted themselves to his service. But if you are not on the Lord's side, my friends, where are you? If you do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, who do you serve? Remember, there is no neutrality in this conflict. "He that is not with me," saith Christ," is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." If, then, you are not on the side of the Lord Jesus Christ, you certainly are on the side of the Adversary. If you serve not the glorious Prince of peace, you certainly serve the Wicked One. He may not employ you to perform the more shameful, the more disgraceful parts of his service. He may employ you in such ways-you may do his work so smoothly and genteelly, that you flatter yourselves you are not doing it at all. But be not deceived. If you are not laboring for Christ, you certainly are laboring for his great Adversary somehow; and persisting in such labors, you must perish with the Master you have served.
My dear friends, I warn you of these things in season. I earnestly call upon you to change your relations. Why should you continue in the service of the most wicked, the most hateful, the most wretched
being in the universe? Why should you league yourselves to one, whose cause is not only most base and odious, but utterly desperate; one who is destined to such a speedy and terrible overthrow?
My friends, let me show you a better Master ;-One all wise, all benevolent and holy, "the chiefest among ten thousands and altogether lovely ;"-One who has loved you and died for you ;-One who pities and deplores your case ;-One who now stands before you with open arms, waiting to receive you to his bosom and his love;-One who shall speedily and assuredly triumph over all his adversarieswhose kingdom shall survive all other kingdoms, and abide forever. Shall not this Master be your Master? Shall not his service be your service? Will you not abjure and renounce forever the hard service of Satan, and enlist under the banner of the Son of God? O yes, my friends; from the heart say, yes. Come, enter here, at once, into the service of Christ. Take his yoke upon you, and learn of him; for his yoke is easy, and his burthen is light.
CONVICTION AND CONVERSION.
"THE Bible most distinctly and emphatically declares it to be the natural tendency of all our hearts to lead us away from God. There is a natural alienation of the heart from God. There is no feeling of attachment to him, no wish for his favor, no realizing sense of guilt, no desire for his forgiveness, no longing for reconciliation,-no peace, no real happiness. Each is out upon a sea without chart or compass or pilot, at the mercy of any winds or any currents which may press upon his frail bark. A strong, but unseen current is drifting one towards the rocks and whirlpools of vice and crime, another to the cold, bleak, iron-bound shore of infidelity; a third is trimming his sails to the gales of pleasure, skimming merrily along over hidden rocks and treacherous shoals; and thus all, though going in different directions, and with different apparent prospects, are alike in this most important respect; they are drifting away from God, and in danger of swift destruction in one form or another. Such is the condition of every individual of the human family-such his danger and such his fate, unless an arm of mercy is extended for his rescue.
The modes by which God effectually awakens the soul are infinitely varied. One is arrested in his course of sin by a sermon, after having heard sermons just as faithful and just as able, for twenty years, without effect; another by a brother's or a sister's faithful conversation. Here is one who fled to God as a refuge in an hour of sickness or danger; there is another who was drawn by affliction ;-by the loss of a parent or a husband or a child; a third is gradually awakened by reading books of religious controversy, or by conversation on controverted points; a fourth is led to God by the profuseness of his worldly favors, showing that the world cannot satisfy, and a fifth, by the last, affecting farewell of a dying friend.
A mother's or a father's or a teacher's early lessons have often made an impression, which after years could never fully wear away. The effect may be concealed. The face may wear the look of indifference, and the whole conduct evince entire unconcern, and yet, the impression remain indelible upon the heart. A sense of unfitness to meet God, a feeling of guilt and danger, a consciousness that the world could never really satisfy, will hang over the soul, bringing many an hour of despondency and gloom, and calling the individual to give up his sins and make his peace with God. Reader, is it not so with you? Have you not learned truths which you cannot forget? Have you not received impressions during any of the long years of your past life, which you never can efface? Do not thoughts of God, of your duty, and of your approaching account, intrude themselves often into your heart, and render you restless and unhappy? It is the voice of God, calling you to renounce a life of sin and inquietude for the peace and happiness which flow from union and friendship with Him.
How many ways has God of calling his children to himself. Every way, in fact, by which the heart may be touched at all, he makes use
of to touch it with a sense of sin. He devises a thousand modes of calling men to him, and inducing them to accept of his love. Remember then, fellow traveler to eternity, whatever your grief, whatever your care, whatever may be the burden of pain or distress or anxiety, which you bear about with you, it may be the means which God is taking to bring you to himself. And, on the other hand, whatever may be your joy, whatever worldly peace and prosperity may attend you, it may be the means which God is taking, to win your heart to
Most persons find a considerable and a protracted struggle in their hearts, before they are willing to give themselves up fully to God. Their distress is of a complicated character. Many different feelings enter into the composition of it. First, there is the fear of future punishment. This feeling, however, though it is sometimes powerful in its influence, is usually less so than others, and is commonly soon absorbed in deeper emotions which follow, especially the sense of guilt. The individual has known that he has been a sinner for a long time, but now he feels it. His past iniquities arise to his view and oppress him with an indescribable gloom. His spirits sink, his cheeks grow pale, a deep dejection settles upon his countenance, and upon his heart. Sins, which, when he committed them, gave him no concern, now come up to mind, displaying themselves in their real magnitude, and arrayed in their own dismal colors. Everything looks dark and gloomy. The mind always tinges with its own light, all that it looks upon, and the whole creation appears gloomy to him who is sad at heart. His business has no longer any interest for him; enterprise has lost its charm, and the world its value, and he comes out on the brightest and happiest looking morning of the year, weighed down by an almost insupportable burden, under the influence of which, life seems a weary load, and all nature is dressed in colors of indescribable gloom.
He seems to be without a refuge too. He knows that God is merciful, but he cannot feel that there is any mercy for him. Besides, miserable and wretched as he is, he does not feel quite ready to give up everything for God. His heart still lingers around sin, although he sees it is the tyrant which is scourging him. Again, he has no clear view of a Savior. He has heard about Christ from his infancy, but he knows nothing about him. He has listened to sermon after sermon upon the way of salvation by a Redeemer, but they have made no impression, and he gropes about in the dark, seeking some one to lead him to a Savior crucified for his sins, just as if he had never heard of him before.
There is nothing more striking in the moral history of a human soul, than this fact which seems to be a universal one, that it is almost impossible to lead men to distinct apprehensions of a Savior, till they actually feel the need of him. Explain the way of salvation clearly, to persons who are unconcerned and careless in their sins, and it produces no effect. They see not, neither hear, nor know. Blind to their sins, they are blind to the nature of the provisions for their pardon, and it is
not till they feel the one, that they seem capable at all of appreciating the other. This is the great cause of the difference of opinion which prevails among nominal Christians in respect to the character of Christ, and the plan of salvation. Men who are not awakened to a sense of their sins, cannot see or feel the necessity of a Savior. Whether they hear the Savior preached or not, they can know no more of him while they live unconcerned in sin, than a man can know of the nature and value of food, until he has been hungry. And thus it is that in almost all cases, after groping in the dark for some time, bearing about the intolerable burdens of guilt, the soul at last finds in the Bible, or in some religious book, or in the conversation of some Christian friend, the way to the Savior, as the great sacrifice for sin. Then light comes in. The burden falls off. The gloomy clouds which have hung in such deep and heavy masses over the soul, are broken up and move slowly away-the beams of the sun of righteousness pour in; and the soul which was before overwhelmed with sorrow and anxiety, and seemingly hopeless gloom, now finds itself reposing peacefully and quietly in light and joy and submission, feelings so far transcending the happiness to be derived from any earthly source, that they can be conceived only by those who have enjoyed them. All nature seems changed, for, as in the other case, the mind tinges with its own light all that it looks upon. The landscape and the sky beam with new splendors; the world looks bright and lovely. God, reconciled through his Son, is seen in everything. There is a new delight in prayer; the services in the house of God awaken new interest and pleasure; even the voice of the preacher and the sound of the music is changed, and every page in the word of God beams with a meaning and a beauty, never seen before. Then, for the first time, does the soul fully realize the meaning of the words, " If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new."
It is not always the case that the essential feelings accompanying moral renewal appear in so marked and striking a form as here described. These feelings exist in various degrees, and connected alternating with other feelings. In some instances, the anxiety for the salvation of the soul, instead of being concentrated upon a single month or week, is distributed over a long period, perhaps many years. Sometimes the Savior is found not by some sudden apprehension of the plan of salvation through him, but by slow and faltering steps. One temporary glimpse is followed by a return of darkness and fears. Another hour of light and joy succeeds; and again gives way to one of sorrow. Thus there is variety without end, in respect to the ways in which the heart is led, but still, there is in all of them, substantial agreement in respect to the nature of the change."