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If then, you think you desire to become a Christian, consider whetner you are willing to do, in this world, the work which God has assigned to you, or whether you prefer employing yourself about some other. It is in vain to say that other employment is innocent, in itself. You cannot be God's servant without being willing to do his work. And what is that work? Why, that you should first study to improve your own character in holiness, and that you should endeavor to acquire and to preserve property and influence as a means of doing good to others, of promoting the prosperity, and happiness, and welfare of your neighbors, and the community in which you dwell, relieving the sick and the suffering, and advancing the cause of universal knowledge, piety and happiness. Are you willing to engage in this work? If not, do not vainly imagine you wish to be a Christian.
3. One thing more is necessary. I have said you must be willing to abandon all sinful practices, and to engage at once in God's work. You must also be willing that your adherance to the cause of God and religion should be openly known. Many persons wish to come and make secret peace with God, because pride remonstrates against an open admission of his claims. But this will not do. You cannot in this way render your Maker that efficient service which his cause requires; and besides, since you have been openly in the wrong, it is right for him to insist upon your openly admitting it, and making your repentance as public as your sin.
Now these three things are most manifestly implied in entering God's service. To pretend to choose his service without being willing to do these things, is plainly absurd. Any one then can easily tell whether he does or does not wish to enter this service. Are you ready to abandon at once all known sin, and to engage in the work of co-operating with God, and to do it openly, so that your return to duty may be known. If you are willing, the return is easy. The great atonement for all your past sins has been made, and the way is entirely open for your coming at once to God and surrendering soul and body, time, talents, influence and property to his work. He will assuredly accept the surrender, and it is one which it is easy to make.
4. It must be made deliberately and solemnly. All its validity depends upon its being sincere and honest; but the more formal it is in manner, the better. The first great covenant which God made with the Hebrews was executed in writing, and deposited with solemn ceremony in a gilded box, which was carried with them in their wanderings for many years. So let the Christian now make his covenant with God. Let it be a deliberate and formal and solemn act. If he utters aloud in his hour of solitude, the words of consecration, the work will be more effectually done than if he breathes them in silence, and to reduce them to writing and sign them with his name, and then read them solemnly before God, will be better still. It should be done deliberately, as a most solemn and binding act. God will be a witness, and if you are sincere, he will be bound by it himself as your perpetual protector and friend. Such a covenant might be as follows.
"Oh my Maker, I will henceforth have thee for my master, and I will be thy servant. I stop here, in my neglect of thy commands. I stop here in my life of irreligion and selfish pursuit of worldly good. I will now begin to serve thee. This body is thine; thou hast created it and preserved it, and hast given to it all its powers. I have used it thus far for my own purposes, but henceforth I will use it for thine. This intellect I surrender to thee. I have employed its powers in devising and executing my own selfish plans, but from this time it is sacred to the service of God. This wealth and this influence which thou hast given me, shall henceforth be devoted to the purposes for which they were bestowed. I will give myself to the work of doing good. I will seek my employment and my happiness in co-operating with thee in carrying forward thy plans, for removing suffering, and drawing men away from sin. Lord receive me as a servant and follower. Make me wholly thine own. Help me to begin immediately my new work, and to persevere in it to the end. Encourage and strengthen me. When difficulties and trials press about me, wilt thou sympathize with me and come to my help. When I shall stray again from duty, and forget this my solemn covenant with thee, restore my backsliding feet, and grant me forgiveness and peace. Watch over me to the end, and thus prepare me for a more faithful and a happier service in another world.
In thus coming to thee to commence a new life in thy service, all my hope for forgiveness for my past sins, and guidance and help for the future is in thine undeserved mercy, through Jesus Christ who died for me. I would be crucified with him, and thus bringing to a close my life of sin, I would henceforth live a new life by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.""
Now who is there, young or old, high or low, rich or poor, who does not perfectly understand what is meant by such a surrender of himself to God as this. There are doubtless many, who do not wish thus to enter into their Maker's service; they choose to continue in their own; but it is difficult to conceive how any one can say that he does not perfectly understand how to do this, if he is only inclined to do it, or can deny that entering thus into the service of God is the plain and unquestionable duty of every intelligent being whom he has formed. They therefore, who do not begin at once to serve their Maker, neglect their duty, not because they do not know how to do it, but because they do not wish to do it. They love better the pleasures of sin."
THE PRAYER OF THE DYING CHRISTIAN,
"Gently, my Savior, let me down To slumber in the arms of death:
I rest my soul on Thee alone,
Death's dreadful sting has lost its power:
Soon will the storm of life be o'er,
Dear Savior, let thy will be done;
No. 4. VOL. XVII.]
[WHOLE No. 196.
BY REV. MILTON BADGER,
ONE OF THE SECRETARIES OF THE AMERICAN HOME MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
FATHERS INVITED INTO THE ARK.
"Come thou and all thy house into the ark."-Genesis vii. 1.
THUS spake God to the patriarch Noah, at a most interesting and solemn crisis. For one hundred and twenty years, the inhabitants of the earth had been warned of coming wrath. Noah, by divine direction, had been engaged in preparing an ark for the salvation of all who would believe. His work was now completed, and but seven days yet remained, ere the Lord would break up the fountains of the great deep and open the windows of heaven, and sweep away every living thing from the face of all the earth.
The unbelieving world made light of this warning from heaven. They feared no flood. They desired no refuge from its desolating scourge. There stood the ark of God-an effectual covert from the gathering storm-soon to be closed up, by him that shutteth and no inan openeth, and to bear off, upon the wide waste of waters, all that would remain among the living. And yet they would not enter.
At this moment of deep and solemn interest, when all things were fast preparing for the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, a voice from heaven breaks upon the patriarch's ear, saying "Come THOU and all thy house into the ark."
The command was addressed to the FATHER OF A FAMILY, and on the manner in which he received and treated it, depended his own salvation for time and for eternity, and on it, too, might depend the endless destiny of all his house.
The ark which Noah built, is an emblem of the ark which God has provided in the person of his Son, for the salvation of men from another deluge predicted in his word-a deluge, not of water, but of fire. And I shall consider the text as the voice of God to EVERY FATHER
OF A FAMILY who has not entered the ark, Christ Jesus, saying unto him, "Come THOU and all thy house into the ark." And I shall offer some considerations to induce every such father to obey, immediately, this voice of God.
I. There is provision in the ark for thee and for all thy house.
You are not required, like Noah, to devote years of labor and sacrifice to preparing for yourself a refuge. The labor has been laid upon God's only son. The sacrifice has been paid in streams of his precious blood. The ark is built and furnished-all things are ready
the door thereof is yet open, and the Spirit and the bride say come. You have only to enter into this building of God, and you escape the indignation which cometh upon the ungodly. You have only to take your children by the hand and lead them in with you, and no evil shall befall them, henceforth and forever.
Myriads of households have already entered. There are the families of the patriarchs and of the martyrs, and of the whole army of the faithful. And see we not, in the midst of each, the happy father, who taught his children this way of life-whose counsels, whose prayers, and whose bright example brought them within these everlasting doors? With what joy does he look around upon his offspring now! In the eye of each is the peace of heaven. On the heart of each is the image of Jesus. And nothing shall ever separate them from a father's love. O, there are many such fathers encircling, with their offspring, the great white throne. And there are many more fast going up to join them. And yet thou, father, who art now without, and thy children with thee, there is yet room for thee and for all thine. This day the Savior calls, "Come, come thou and all thy house."
You need not stay without, and not a single child of thine need be excluded. Have you a son who is hard-hearted and perverse-whose life is crimsoned with guilt? Bring him in with thee. For the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin. Have you a son who is a prodigalwho has wasted his substance with riotous living, and is feeding upon husks and perishing with hunger? Bring him in with thee. For his Heavenly Father will fall upon his neck and kiss him, and bring forth the best robe and put it on him. Have you little children? O, bring them in with thee. For the Savior of the world saith, "Suffer them to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Gather all thy children with thee into this ark of God, and safely shall you be wafted together into the haven of eternal rest. The ties which bind you so sweetly to each other shall be strengthened; and the kind offices which you perform for each other shall be still higher sources of enjoyment. The happiness you feel in each other's presence-every avenue of parental and filial affection shall be enlarged without measure. Storms may gather over you and rage around you, but not a hair of your heads shall be injured. Thunders may roll and lightnings blaze, but you shall hear in them nought but the voice of your common Father, and see in them nought but the