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may close, and your doom be sealed up for ever. Nothing therefore is gained by delay. But,
II. Much is lost. And, in the first place, you lose all the present happiness which religion is capable of affording. If you were sure of future repentance, you deprive yourselves of much rich enjoyment by delay. Perhaps, however, you flatter yourselves that this loss is more than compensated by the pleasures of sin. But what are the pleasures of sin? Are they substantial ? Are they permanent ? Do they afford peace and satisfaction to the mind? Do they allay the tumults of passion? Do they soothe the corrodings of care, and yield support and consolation under the bereavements and disappointments of life? Or are they not transient and unsatisfying? And are they not usually followed by the stings of remorse? Have you not found it true in your own experience, that “there is no peace to the wicked”—that their minds are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest?” But there is joy and peace in believing -a peace which passeth all understanding. The Christian's hope is an anchor to the soul, which moors him safe amid the billows of this tempestuous world.
I am aware that many are in the habit of associating gloom with the subject of religion, and of imagining that should they become religious, they must sacrifice all their temporal enjoyment. But why, my hearers, do you form this opinion of religion? Who has told you that piety is incompatible with happiness in the present life? Are they not those who know nothing of its influence on the mind? And will you go to such for information on this subject? Would you ask a blind man, how colours appear? Or a deaf man, what pleasure music affords? Just as competent judges are they of these things, as the unrenewed sinner is of the effects of religion.
6. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” Ask the experienced Christian. He knows what are the pleasures of sin, and what are the pleasures of religion, for he has tasted them both, and is therefore a competent judge of their relative value. And what does he tell you? Does he not say, that one hour spent in the enjoyment of God transcends a life of sinful pleasure ?
To this testimony, which, in all other cases, would be deemed sufficient, you have the testimony of God. He has told you, that “ godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come;" and that “ wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Now all this happiness you sacrifice, by delaying repentance.
Nor is this all. How many opportunities for usefulness do you lose. Suppose you should postpone repentance five years longer. In this time, how much you might do for God and his church. How many souls you
superadded might be instrumental in saving, whom, if you continue impenitent, you may perhaps be instrumental in destroying. How much remorse of conscience, how much work for bitter repentance, you might avoid. Besides, how much you might do to accumulate a treasure in heaven, to increase your stature in holiness, and to prepare yourselves to become larger vessels of mercy, and more distinguished stars of glory, in the firmament above. Do you, my hearers, intend to be saved-and do you wish to be dwarfs in the kingdom of heaven? Do you wish just to be saved-to go to heaven covered with everlasting shame because you set out so late? O, my hearers, if you should finally arrive at heaven, for your present delay you will suffer endless loss. But,
III. You not only gain nothing, and lose much, by delay, but you hazard every thing. You hazard your souls : and “what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.” You know, my hearers, that you must repent or perish. You know also that this life is the only season of probation ;--that “there is no work, nor device, nor wisdom, nor knowledge, in the grave whither you are going ;” and that if repentance is delayed till life closes, all is lost for ever. And need I tell you that life is uncertain ? You have witnessed the ravages of death. You have seen one after another dropping around you into the world of spirits. And who are those that are daily summoned to the grave ? Are they always the aged, the sickly, or the pious ? Does death always give notice of his approach? Does he stop to inquire of his victim whether he is prepared to die? On the contrary, are not persons of all ages, and of every variety of character, promiscuously swept away by the stroke of death? Does not death often come as a thief in the night, and execute his commission without the least premonition ? How many within the circle of your acquaintance have been suddenly surprised, and taken from the world in the midst of the most flattering prospects of earthly happiness. In an instant, all their plans were thwarted, and all their expectations
Youth and beauty, health and vigor, are no security against the approach of death.
“Great God, on what a slender thread,
Hang everlasting things !"
Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie
Go to yonder grave-yard. Take a view of the graves with which you find it crowded. Do you not find them of every size, from six feet to a span in length ? Read on the tombstones the ages of those who people that land
of silence, their occupations in life, and the circumstances of their death : and tell me, is not life uncertain? Can you put confidence in the prospect of future days ? How dare you then risk your salvation on the hope of future repentance ?
Besides, consider in whose hand your life is. It is in the hand of that God against whom you have rebelled, and who now commands you to repent—that God whose mercy you have long abused, and whose patience you have wearied. Dare you provoke him farther? At any moment, he can sunder the thread of life, and you fall to rise no more. That he will not do it, he has given you no
That he will do it, he has given you much reason to fear. In great mercy he has spared you hitherto while you have disregarded his commands, his entreaties, and his warnings. But there is a limit to his forbearance. He is just and true, as well as merciful ; and the day of vengeance is in his heart. And I ask again, dare you provoke him farther? You know that you are absolutely dependent on God for the continuance of life; and if you have resolved to defer repentance another year, will you not earnestly beseech him to spare your life another year? But dare
offer that prayer? Dare you fall down in the presence of God, and solemnly beseech him to spare your life another year, that you may spend it in sin? With such profane mockery on your lips, would you not expect to be smitten dead like Ananias and Sapphira? But are you not virtually doing this while you postpone repentance? You hope to live. You ardently desire to live. It is the prayer of your heart that God would spare your life, for the express purpose
that you may live in disobedience to his commands. O, my hearers, do you know how fast you are filling up the measure of your
sin ? But the danger of deferring repentance arises not merely from the uncertainty of life. Were you sure of future days, it would be infinitely hazardous to delay. You are in danger of being given over to judicial blindness and hardness of heart. There is a point, beyond which if the sinner goes, his case becomes desperate. No means can reach him. No motives can effect him. He is abandoned of God. The Holy Spirit has ceased to strive with him, and has bidden him an everlasting farewell. God has said concerning him, he is joined to idols, let him alone. Now, to this point, every impenitent sinner is tending, if he has not already reached it; and every day's delay brings him nearer to it. His heart is growing less susceptible of religious impressions--his conscience is becoming seared as with a hot iron--the means of grace are losing their power to affect himhis enmity to God, and aversion to holiness, are gaining strength his neglect of duty is ripening into a confirmed habit ; and the prospect of future repentance becomes darker and darker, till it is finally shrouded in eternal night.
If, my hearers, you are not willing to repent now, you have fearful reason
to apprehend that you never will be willing. Dream not of a more convenient season. Such a season you will never see.
Now is the accepted time, Now is the day of salvation. Now is the best time you will ever enjoy to secure your immortal interests, and it may be the only time. And why is it not a convenient season ? All the difficulty lies in the wickedness of your hearts; and that difficulty is not diminishing, but increasing. The same motives which influence you now to delay, must operate with redoubled power hereafter. O, then
I have now laid before you the three considerations which I proposed in the beginning of this discourse ; and I ask you to bring them distinctly before your minds. Weigh them candidly, and come now to some decision. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. You see that nothing is gained, that much is lost, and that every thing is hazarded by delay. Will you
noi then solemnly resolve that you will delay no longer ? that from this time
renounce every idol, and devote yourselves to the service of the living God? I pause for you to decide. -Remember, God is present, and is looking upon your hearts. Attending angels are waiting in awful suspense. Remember also that the choice which you now make, may decide your destiny
Have you decided? What is your determination ? Have you resolved that you will serve the Lord—that henceforth religion shall be the first and the great business of life? Are there not some at least in this assembly, who have formed this resolution? Or have you, my dying fellow-sinners, resolved still to delay--to venture on a little farther in the road to ruin—to presume a little longer on the forbearance of your Judgeand a little longer to run the awful hazard of losing your souls ? O, have any of you come to this rash conclusion ? Have you told your Maker (" for thoughts are heard in heaven”), that you will not now yield to his demandsthat
you will still persist in your rebellion? O, retract that rash resolution, lest it prove your ruin. Perhaps, while you have resolved to persist in impenitence, God has resolved that you shall never enter into his rest. Beware, I beseech you, how you trifle with your Maker. Beware, lest that come upon you which is written ; “Because I have called, and
refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at naught my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish cometh upon you; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me."
NEW-YORK, DECEMBER, 1830.
Preached at Boston, Oct. 7, 1830, before the American Board of Foreign Missions,
BY THOMAS DE WITT, D. D.
THE GOSPEL HARVEST, AND CHRISTIAN'S DUTY,
Matt. ix. 37, 38. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
The history of the world in all ages exhibits the extended prevalence of ignorance and error, of sin and misery. The mind of the philanthropist feels oppressed with the contemplation, and naturally inquires, Shall this state of things always continue ? Will the time never arrive when truth, and holiness, and peace shall pervade the earth? Philosophy, falsely so called, has speculated on the perfectibility of human nature, while in infidel rejection of truths the most simple and sacred, she has ministered by her spirit and by her instructions to the pride and corruption of our nature. The legitimate fruit of her theories and of her practical influence, appeared in that harvest of pollution and wo, which is still vivid in the remembrance
The humble Christian, whatever may be for the present his griefs and disappointments, cherishes the confidence that a brighter scene will yet be unfolded through the world; a scene of blissful reality, succeeding the darkness and depravity which now abound. He believes that this will be accomplished through the word of divine truth. He believes this, because this truth is precisely adapted to the state and wants of human nature, as it unfolds the true character of God and man, reveals the way of salvation, prescribes a perfect rule of duty, and is accompanied by an influence adequate to subdue the heart and life to holy obedience. He believes this, because numerous instances are presented of its efficacy in renovating the heart and character, and thus becoming the “ wisdom and power of God unto salvation.” He believes this, in view of the numerous and emphatic promises of Him who is infinitely true and faithful. Promises like the following remain to be fulfilled, and claim and deserve the Christian's faith and hope :-“ And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the tops of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow
“ The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” “For from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering." “And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." The Christian believes this, because the Redeemer, for his obedience unto death, is promised “the heathen for his inheritance, and
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