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Psalmist, "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound, they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance." Oh, how earnestly do I exhort you, my christian reader, to take heed to-day, while it is called to-day; the night cometh when no man can work. You may be of strong vigour and sound health, perhaps young and active, the rose may be on your cheek, aad you mry imagine that your end is not near, but I would remind you that the youngest may be called first, that this present night may terminate in the coming endless day; therefore, be sober and watch unto prayer. Or you may be advanced in years, and yet consoling yourself that there is still plenty of time ere you turn from your evil ways, that there is still time for " a little more sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. O sluggard! go to the ant, consider her ways, and be wise!" Go back to Calvary, and pray like one of the thieves who was crucified with our blessed Redeemer, "Lord Jesus, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom!" And if thou art a true believer and follower of his, he will say to thee as he did to him, " To day, shalt thou be with me in Paradise." "Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light, walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness; not in chambering and wantonness; not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof." "Woe unto the world because of offences ! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!"
One word to all. It is declared that Christ shall come suddenly, as a thief in the night. In what circumstances should you wish him to find you? If you expected a guest to morrow from a far country you would previously prepare every thing sumptuous for his reception, you would put your house in order, you would command all your servants to be in readiness with yourself to wait upon him, and youjwould have a hearty welcome for him as he entered your presence. Upon the same plan are you preparing for your divine Master? He may come to-morrow, "at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning ; take ye heed, watch and pray, lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping." Love your Saviour more than you have hitherto done, then will you be enabled to look forward for his mercy unto eternal life. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." You hope to be saved: ask the drunkard, the swearer, the adulterer, and the profane, if they hope to be saved, and they will All tell you—." To be saved! God forbid else. It were pity I should live if I had not hopes to be saved." But remember, however much and however long you may continue in sin, God's mercy will not remain for ever. "My spirit shall not always strive with man." "Ye shall know my breach of promise, saith the Lord." It is very comforting to look always on the bright side, and to console ourselves with God's gracious promises, but we must also remember his threatenings. On that day nothing will be hid, all secrets will be manifested, all sins concealed from our fellow-creatures here will be brought to light, and nothing but what shall be made known. O sinner, does not thy conscience reprove thee, dost it not tell thee what a disclosure will be made against thee, and though thou art now stout-hearted and afar from righteousness, and carest not for any one, thou wilt then be glad to conceal thy face, for shame will cover thee, everlasting confusion will overspread thee, Oh, what wilt thou then not wish to give to recall thy unrighteous deeds, those mispent moments of thy life; Oh, how wilt thou regret the society of evil men, which whilst here was your chief delight, and which led thee into the path of the wicked, and tempted thee to eat the bread of sin, and to drink the wine of violence. Contemplate these feelings then now, bring the future before you, it will prove a check, and cause you to act more circumspectly, always endeavouring to have a good conscience both towards God and towards men. "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things." Be persuaded that now only is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Now or never have you the opportunity of rendering yourselves holy and acceptable to God, of subduing your evil passions and sensual desires, and renewing your hearts and minds, conforming not to the world, but to the commands of Christ. Wait not until eternal judgment is passed upon you, but look to your present state each one for himself. Consider the awful sentence which will await you if you should be found in your wickedness, spiritually dead. Are you the same as you were? or are you "building up yourselves on your most holy faith praying in the Holy Ghost," keeping in the love of God, looking for his unceasing mercy? Are you fit at this present moment to appear before him? Each night follows us to the solemn day. How are you looking forward to it, will it be a day of joy when you see him face to face? This week may call us to the awful tribunal, how shall we stand before him?
The man who has devoted his time to the world, who has indulged all his carnal appetites, and joined in every sinful revel— the man of business who has allowed himself no time for spiritual matters, wholly engrossed with Mammon, will be found wanting at this day. They will not wish to see the Lord, they will tremble and shake. Little children who have allowed worldly idols to govern them will be far from him at that day; but there will be some—oh I hope many who have sought the Lord by Prayer, and such will he delight to own. The man who has conscientiously attended to all his religious and moral duties, and so prepared himself for Christ's coming, who has trained up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord will reap a full reward. But alas! for the wicked there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but the righteous shall see his face with joy. And there is another thought, and one of great import, your individual responsibility for the souls of others. We all know the effect of example, take care that yours be such as you should wish to bring before God's judgment seat. For if thou carest not to reprove the works of darkness in others, thou makest thyself a partaker of their sins, as Saint Paul tells us. (5 Eph. 11.) Remember the sin of Gehazi. (2 Kings v. 25.) Who when he had cheated Naaman stood very composedly before his master. But when he shall stand before God the righteous judge, his confidence will end in abasement. Thus too with the professing christian who regards not now the clay of small things, which is to produce a far greater hereafter. Be careful then what companions you choose, for it will be of no use for you to say at that day, " Lord! I had not been in this estate of wrath and damnation, had it not been for this man's example." "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Repent now and believe the Gospel. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. For the day is coming—that day of wrath; a day of trouble and heaviness; a day of gloominess and darkness; a day of clouds, storms, and blackness; a day of the trumpet and alarm. The sun shall be darkened, the moon turned into blood, and the powers of heaven shaken; the stars shall fall as withered leaves; the graves shall open, their dead shall rise; the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved; and the elements melt with fervent heat. If you have been a faithful steward, you will inherit your Father's blessing. "Come, for all things are ready." If you have despised his warnings, and neglected his service, you will incur his heavy displeasure. "Go, ye cursed." O, turn ye and live, for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Be found of Christ in every respect, as becometh your high calling. Mark the man who is growing fast in sin, and compare the end of a good man—the woe which will come to the one, and the bliss which will ensue for the other. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace!" "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?"
IS, OR IS NOT THE PRESENT LIFE CONDUCIVE TO THE HAPPINESS OF A FUTURE ONE?
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue."
2nd Epistle St. Peter, 3rd verse.
There is no one, I think, who will not readily admit that in order to be secure in worldly happiness, regardless of all contingencies, that no business, or profession, or pleasure, can afford the real and inward satisfaction as is derived from following the dictates of religion, and walking virtuously and godly in this present world: and not only enjoyment whilst we are here, but the glorious prospect which they impart of realizing a bright and certain reward in the world to come. Every day proves the uncertain enjoyment of earthly riches; how quickly they make wings and fly away: and how vain it is to look to these perishable baubles for any enduring satisfaction; but rather to embrace that which will survive beyond the grave, and which can never be taken from us. And as what we enjoy and suffer here is put in our own power, how anxiously should we strive to contract such virtuous habits and holiness of living, and so escape the corruption that is in the world. That "all things are double one against another, and God hath made nothing imperfect," (42 Eccl. 24.) is a single observation of the son of Sirach, upon which many remarks hence will serve to show. In replying to the enquiry now before us, let us consider First,—The nature of this life.
That we are in a constant state of changing, few words will suffice to prove. The very particles of matter contained in us yesterday will have entirely evaporated in a few days. Childhood is a state of discipline for youth; youth for manhood; and that for old age. That we live also in a state of faith and expectation is equally certain. The dispensations of providence often appear contradic