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seen any one, no older than yourself, borne to the cold grave? Should your soul this night be required of you, would you dare to make the plea at the bar, to which you would be summoned, that you thought yourself too young to attend to religion? Is this excuse a good one?
II. Pressure of worldly cares.-Others who say they wish to become Christians, secretly excuse themselves on account of the pressure of worldly cares. This is in reality their excuse for neglecting religion. Among those, who were bidden to the great supper, one said, I have bought a piece of ground, and must needs go see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. And many are excusing themselves on no better ground, for not accepting the invitation of Christ. They have not time to attend to religion.-Do look at this excuse. What is religion? It is to love God with all the heart. Will it take any more time to love God than it does to hate him? What is necessary in order that you may become reconciled to God? To repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And how much time is necessary to do this? How long did it take the Jailer, or the Eunuch, or Saul of Tarsus to believe in Christ? How long ought it to take to make up your mind, whether you will obey God or disobey him? whether you will have your portion in heaven or in hell? And when you have made the decision, will it take any longer to perform the ordinary duties of life under the influence of Christian feeling, than it will without that influence? Will you not be able to do as much for your own comfort and that of those around you, if cheered by the hope that your sins are forgiven, and that God is your friend, as you are while oppressed with the consciousness that the wrath of God is abiding on you, and that you have no portion secured beyond the grave? But suppose that a due attention to the subject of religion were to interfere, in some degree, with your worldly interests and pursuits; which does Christ tell you to seek first? Which does your own conscience tell you, is most valuable and important? Would you think the man acted wisely, who, by busying himself to save a single dollar, should loose the opportunity of securing a large estate? And what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
III. Interference of religion with favorite pursuits.—Another excuse, often felt, though not very often expressed, is an apprehension that religion will render it necessary to abandon some favorite pleasure or pursuit. Most people, whose minds are enlightened by divine truth, understand very well what is, and what is not, consistent with Christian character. But so long as they make no pretensions to religion, they seem to feel no scruple in doing things, which they would be the first to condemn, if done by a professing Christian. They have many worldly pleasures, which they know it would be very unseemly for a disciple of Christ to indulge; or, they are governed by principles in their modes of doing business, which the Gospel plainly con
demns; and as they have such a regard for consistency of character, that they cannot think of becoming Christians, without giving up whatever the spirit of the Gospel condemns, they are unwilling to be closely pressed upon the subject. They had rather keep it at a distance: and when an awakened conscience brings it home to them, they drive away their convictions, and close their eyes to the truth. But, my friend, religion will only prohibit you from doing that which is wrong; and will not conscience tell you that you are wishing for a continued license to sin? Does it not also tell you that a day of reckoning will come?—and can it be wise to go on swelling the amount that you will then have to settle?
In connexion with this, I would observe that pride is a very frequent obstacle, that prevents many from giving up their hearts to God. I presume there are those among my hearers, who will know what I mean. A feeling of shame would come over you, to have your thoughtless companions and associates look upon you, and know that you were thinking seriously about the welfare of your soul. And, therefore, if you have feelings on the subject, you try to conceal. them, and will perhaps even deny that you have any. But is it best. to be ashamed of Christ, when he has declared that of such he will. be ashamed in the kingdom of his Father?
"Ashamed of Jesus ?-yes you may,
IV. Inconsistencies of professing Christians. Another very common feeling, which reconciles the heart to a life of sin, is that many persons who profess religion, do not live consistently. My heart is pained within me when I think how grievously the Savior is often wounded in the house of his friends; how little conformity they exhibit to the character of Him, whom they profess to make their pattern, and how little concern they manifest for the eternal welfare of those, with whom they daily associate. And whether many of them. have not deceived themselves with a name to live, while they are dead in sins, is a serious question, which must soon be decided.—But is the blessed Savior himself, on this account, any the less worthy of your love and confidence? Is this a reason why you should crucify him afresh by your unbelief? And especially, is this a reason why you should expose your immortal soul to eternal wretchedness and despair? Will you once think of offering it as an excuse, when you. stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that his professed disciples, whom you knew on earth, did not live as they ought? Or, will it help to dispel the gloom of your dark abode, to have associated with you, those whom you had seen numbered with the professing people of God? Look at the subject candidly, and tell me if you think this a good excuse.
V. Conversion, the work of God.-Perhaps you have a secret
feeling that it must be the work of God; he must work repentance and faith in you, or you cannot repent and believe; and this in such a sense as to free you from the responsibility and guilt of sin. Suppose a person were exposed to death, in a situation where he had a full view of his danger, and say that it was utterly out of his power to relieve himself, while there was an entire uncertainty whether relief would be afforded from any other quarter. Would he be able to maintain an air of indifference to his condition? Would he eat and drink with his usual relish through the day, and lie down and slumber quietly at night? Can any, then, really believe that they are in this fearful state, exposed to the eternal wrath of God, entirely unable to relieve themselves, and lying under a fearful uncertainty 'whether any other being will afford them help; while at the same time they appear wholly indifferent to their situation, and are perhaps amusing themselves with the trifles that surround them? Do they really believe their condition is such as is here supposed? Or, are they only wishing to quiet their consciences in sin, and avail themselves of this as a plausible excuse? Would you say that the more wicked a man is, the more excusable he is? Yourself being judge, a strong inclination to do wrong, furnishes no good excuse for doing wrong. There is one plain consideration that should satisfy us on this point. God holds man responsible for his conduct, and shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Will you think of urging your depraved inclination as an excuse at the bar of Jehovah ? Certainly not. Then do not let it operate to keep you from accepting Christ now.
VI. Influence of earthly friends.-Others are prevented from accepting Christ by the influence of earthly friends. I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' But will Christ consider the influence of earthly friends a sufficient excuse for not accepting his invitation? Let his own words decide. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.' Yes, we are required to forsake wife and children, if need be, for the sake of being his disciples. But some will plead the opposition of friends, if friends they can be called, as an obstacle to their embracing religion. But your friends cannot control your thoughts. They may abridge your privileges, but they cannot prevent your giving your heart to God, and loving him with your whole soul. And do not forget that your obligations to no earthly friend can bear any comparison with those which you are under to Christ.
VII. Irksome duties.-Others are in heart unwilling to become Christians, because they know there are duties connected with the profession of christianity, which appear to them exceedingly difficult and irksome. They therefore hesitate, and waver.-Do take up the subject in earnest. Some adopt a kind of half way course; indulge a hope that they have become the disciples of Christ, but decline the responsibility that belongs to a public profession of religion; and be
cause they do not render themselves responsible to a body of their fellow-men, feel at liberty to omit those duties, which appear most forbidding to them. It is not my province to say that people never get to heaven in this way; but I do feel bound to repeat what Christ said when on earth;-He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
VIII. Want of conviction of sin.-Others think they cannot accept the invitation of Christ, because they think they have not experienced such powerful convictions as they think needful, before it is proper for them to enjoy the consolations of religion. What would you think of the condemned criminal, who should refuse to comply with the term of offered pardon, though perfectly easy and just, because in his own view, he did not feel so penitent as he ought, for the offence he had committed? Do you feel sensible that you are guilty in the sight of God, that you are justly condemned by his law, that there is no way of escape but by the atoning blood of Christ? And do you believe that Christ stands ready and willing to save you? Why, then, do you not commit yourself entirely into his hands? Do you still say you have not felt your guilt so much as you ought? Think one moment. If God has been so kind as to show you your situation without that overwhelming sense of guilt, and those distressing stings of conscience, which some experience, is it a proper requital of his kindness to stand up and obstinately refuse to obey him? He commands you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do it now; and how strangely will it sound for you to plead at last, that you saw your danger, and perfectly understood what a remedy was provided, but you did not apply unto it, because you did not feel so much as you supposed you ought.
IX. More convenient season.-Others secretly think they shall have, some time or other, a more convenient season than the present. This is not expressed, but the heart feels it, and it betrays at once the fact, that the individual does not wish to be a servant of God. He postpones entering his service, as an evil which must be put off as long as possible, and submitted to at last, only when it can no longer be postponed. My hearer, is this your state of mind? You do not mean to die impenitent. You are not calculating on the horrors of a dying bed, uncheered by the presence of the Savior; but you are not ready to repent now. You expect a more convenient season. A more convenient season ?-Why?-When your weight of guilt has accumulated, your heart hardened, your conscience seared, and the patience of God well nigh exhausted by your long delay? Do these things render it more convenient to effect a reconciliation with God?"
"To day attend, is wisdom's voice;
And still to-morrow 'tis, when, oh,
PRAYER A MEANS OF REVIVALS.
"O Lord, revive thy work."-Habakkuk, iii: 2.
THUS prayed the prophet Habakkuk for a revival of religion in ancient times. Thus should the people of God pray in every age, wherever religion languishes, and where there are souls to be saved. In the economy of redemption, God has made prayer a very important and indispensable means of revivals of religion.
"In order to offer that prayer which prevails with God, I. Christians must pray in humility.
When they spread forth their supplicating hands to God, with the request that divine grace may enrich their hearts, that the consolations of religion may cheer their souls, that they may be useful in God's service; that Zion may be built up, sinners converted to God, and the whole earth filled with his knowledge and goodness: they should have a deep and affecting sense that they are utterly unworthy of such favors at the hand of God, utterly unworthy to be employed as the instruments of extending Christ's kingdom, and of saving souls from eternal ruin. They should feel that it is entirely of divine grace that they are permitted, by their prayers and exertions, to obtain these blessings for themselves or their fellow men. And this sug
II. That they should pray in the name of Christ.
They are so unworthy, so ineflicient in themselves, so deserving of God's wrath, that they cannot hope that their prayers will be heard, or even that they can approach the Holy One, unless they come in the name of Him who has died for sinners, and who ever liveth to make intercession for his people. For Jesus has said, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." In the name of Christ then must they approach Jehovah, and through his merits expect every blessing which is bestowed in answer to prayer.
III. In prayer they must seek the aid of God's word and spirit.
In the Bible they may learn what they are to pray for, and how they are to pray. And they especially need the teachings of the Holy Spirit, by his gracious operations on the heart, that they may attain a devotional frame of mind, and a spirit of prayer, that they may be directed to pray for those things which are agreeable to God's will, that they may not hinder their own prayers by selfish motives, or by