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ourselves that our case shall not be similar, yet in a little while we are again enticed into the vortex of evil, and too soon forget the consequences which will attend our iniquities. Men do not look at sin with that abhorrence which it merits :-they love their old and easy paths of folly and luxury too well ; and so forget to enquire, Why ? until possibly they are compelled to do so, even when necessity arrives : perhaps some awful visitation overtakes them, and they are thus brought to examine themselves, and to see how they stand with their heavenly Master. They lull themselves on in ease and indifference to spiritual things, and a time comes at last when they are made forcibly to feel that sin is the transgression of the law of God; and who, as a just Judge punishes it accordingly. Men regard the present moment--the present thought-the present action—the present enjoyment, so much, that the future is forgotten. They value in too high a degree that which they are grasping of, and forget what may be the result; we find them journeying on, loving and attending to those objects, which they can see in the world, and because the hereafter and its joys are not so glaring, they are the less sought after and admired. If we only consulted ourselves when the present was with us, as many do when the future arrives, how many sins we might not have been guilty of; how many temptations might we not have resisted ; and how much of our precious time we might have employed in seeking those joys and those blessings which are unseen; and unlike the fading attractions of this world, can never fade in happy realms above. What are we doing? And why ? should be ever before us, as hereafter, to such we must answer. If we are living only to the world, fearful must be our account: if to-day we do that which tomorrow we should repent, sad indeed it is. But on the other hand, if we regard the future, each day will advance us, and we shall be soaring to the celestial felicities, abounding in a future state. Occasionally we are reminded by various casual circumstances, that we “ are all,” as the verse before us states, “as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;" yet we are
not stirred up to a true repentance, and earnest endeavour to lead from henceforth a sober, righteous, and godly life. Daily and hourly we feel the shortness of our lives, and that like a sere leaf in its yellowness, we are fading ; but it becomes soon a common idea, a general acknowledgment, and like our neighbours we are soon found sailing down the stream of life, amidst gaiety and pleasure, flattering ourselves we are no worse than others. So true it is, that « all men think all men mortal but themselves.”*
And, finally, we confess “our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Who can tell how oft he offendeth ? O, “ cleanse thou me from my secret faults !” (Psalm xix. 12.) Who is there that does not feel how often he is driven into the paths of ungodli. ness, and has not strength sufficient to resist the temptation ? Let such remember the words of the prophet Isaiah, lest God hide his face from them, and consume them because of their iniquities. “But now, O Lord, thou art our Father ; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people." (64 Isaiah, 8 & 9.) And as the christian is assured that if he prays fervently, he shall be answered, “I love them,” says the Lord, “ that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.” Delay no longer, lest you should be called to meet him in the midst of your iniquities. Go to him in faith and humility, in a deep sense of your frailty-convinced that “ all your righteousnesses are as filthy rags ;' and that you are every moment hastening “to the land of darkness, and the shadow of death ;” and as a flower of the field you flourish;—“but the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord."
. Dr. Young
We are commanded “ to keep the heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” “Know thyself,” is a truth which should be ever before us, then indeed we shall not only know our frailty, but feel it, we shall more eagerly endeavour to amend our lives, more circumspect in our conduct, and more vigilant in guard. ing against the temptations of our adversary, “who goeth about seeking whom he may devour, whom resist stedfast in the faith." Let the awful truth sink deep into your minds, “ the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal ;” and may such conviction induce you to put a proper value upon temporal and eternal things, that amongst the vicissitudes of life, you may enjoy a dignified composure, and so as the Apostle writes “ to use this world as not abusing it." Christian ! wouldest thou cultivate this divine spirit ?-sursum corda ! Lift up your heart! and whilst you are for a moment perhaps lamenting the shortness of all that is earthly, rise on the wings of contemplation, and soon will you hear rapturous sounds, in the realms of light, and heavenly melody will regale thy ears : no storms to agitate, no clouds obscure the air, no lightenings play, and the thunders roll beneath thee; here you dwell in a variable atmosphere, but there you will behold the gleamings of glory in one everlasting day, which overshadow the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS !
" Father of light and life! Thou good supreme;
A. M. W. Chelmsford, 29th Jan. 1845.
J. SHEARCROFT, PRINTER, CHELMSTOND.
GOD'S GRACIOUS INVITATION.
“ Therefore, O thou Son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus
ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and · we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them,
As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live : turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, o house of Israel I"
Ezekiel xxxiii. 10 & 11. “ Come, and let us return unto the Lord : then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”
Hosea vi. part of 1 & 3.
What a gracious invitation to erring sinners! What comfort it imparts to the desponding and the contrite heart! To the backslider who is afar off from God ;-to him who begins to repent, and is anxious to make reconciliation with his Divine Master, ere the day is over, and he is summoned to that unseen world which is now hidden from our view, and from which there is no return. The world will entice us from his service, and offer its many alluring amusements ; so that men cannot see the pleasures which en. sue from virtuous and holy living. In considering the verses now before us, there are three points which demand our particular attention.
1. God's gracious invitation. II. The Christian's devout resolution. III. The promise which follows.
With the slight regard sometimes amounting to total indifference which the professing Christian bestows upon God's threatenings, a very great confidence on the other hand is raised up in estimating his gracious invitations and promises of pardon. When we look abroad in the world, and observe the sad accumulation of wickedness, the drunkenness and murders, fornication, blasphemies, and prodigies of impiety, which are daily arising ; how “by swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, until blood toucheth blood.” (Hosea iv. 2.) and how visibly we trace the effects of our own corrupt nature, and soon discover what we really are, for “as in water, face answereth to face; so doth the heart of man to man.” (Proverbs xxvii. 19 ) How natural it is to search into the Scriptures, and look for comfort, and to seek out something which will console us, and induce us to turn from the evil which we have committed, and so to live as to avoid the awful punishment that God has sealed down with his blood for the ungodly sinner. But there is great danger in this; for the worldly-minded are often led astray by it. You will ask, How so? Because it is made a plea for continuing in sin, whilst it is intended to be only a consolation to those who repent of it, and are henceforth reforming their lives.
For what is the general conversation of the wicked ? Alas! it inay be said also of many professing christians, and respectable members of society ;-“We know we shall die, but as we do not know when, let us eat, drink, and be merry; whatever is not expressly forbidden cannot be very criminal; whatever is not positively enjoined, cannot be indispensably necessary. If we do not offend against the laws, what more can be expected from us? Our sins we hope are of the smaller order: a little harmless gallantry; a little innocent jollity; a few foolish expletives which we use from the mere force of habit, meaning nothing by them; a little warmth of colouring and license of expression; a few freedoms of speech in the gaiety of our hearts, which, though not perhaps strictly correct, none but the over-rigid would think of treating any otherwise than as venial infirmities, and in which very grave and religi