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entreated him to send for the minister as before, “ No," he exclaimed, " I who have trifled with the mercy of God once, cannot expect it now.” No persuasions could shake this resolution; no representation of divine grace could remove his despair; and without asking for pardon, he died.
The same despair has, in many other instances, resulted from the same sin of trifling with religious impressions.
These pages will probably be read by some, whose minds are under religious concern. Your situation is more critical and important than any language which I could employ, would enable me to represent. If your present anxiety subsides into your former carelessness, you are in the most imminent danger of being left to the depravity of your nature. God is now approaching you in the exercise of his love, and waiting that he may be gracious. · Seek him while he is to be found, call upon him while he is near. The soft breezes of celestial influence are pass. ing over you, seize the auspicious season, and hoist every sail to catch the breath of heaven. Tremble at the thought of losing your present feelings. Be much and earnest in prayer to God, that he would not suffer you to relapse into unconcern and neglect. Take every possible means to preserve and deepen your present convictions. Read the Scriptures with renewed diligence. Go with increased earnestness, and interest, and prayer, to the house of God. Endeavour to gain clearer views of the truth as it is in Jesus, and labour to have your mind instructed as well as your heart impressed. Be satisfied with nothing short of a renewed mind, the new birth. Be upon your guard against self-depend.
Watch against this, as much as against grosser sins. Consider yourself as a little child, who can do nothing without God. Study your own sinfulness in the glass of God's holy law. Grow in humility: it is not well for a plant to shoot upwards quickly, before it has taken deep root; if there be no fibres in the earth, and no moisture at the root, whatever blossoms or fruit there be in the branches, they will soon fail off; and in the same way, if your religion do not strike root in humility, and be not moistened with the tears of penitential grief, whatever blossoms of joy or fruits of zeal there may be on the mind or conduct, they will soon drop off under the next gust or heat of temptation. Take heed of secret sinning. A single lust unmortified will be like a worm at the root of the newly-planted piety of your soul. Continually remember that it is yet but the beginning of religion with you. Do not rest here; believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: nothing short of this will save you: without faith, all you have felt, or can feel, will do you no good: you must come to Christ, and be anxious to grow in
grace, in the knowledge of God our Saviour.
Some, it is probable, will read these lines, who have had religious impressions, and lost them. Your goodness has vanished like the cloud of the morning; and like the early dew has sparkled and exhaled.
Sometimes you exclaim, with an emphasis of deep melancholy,
" What peaceful hours I once enjoy'd!
But they have left an aching void barqob
The world can never fill.”
You are not, you cannot be happy, Oh no: the din of pleasure or of business cannot drown the voice of conscience: a pause now and then occurs, when its thunders are heard, and heard with indiscribable alarm. Sometimes, in the midst of your pleasures, when all around is jollity and mirth, you see a spectacle which others do not see, and are terrified by a mystic hand which writes your doom upon the wall. From that moment there is no more joy for you. Sometimes you almost curse the hour when the voice of a faithful preacher lodged conviction in your bosom, and half spoiled you for a man of pleasure and the world. You look with almost envy on those who, by never having been taught to fear God, are wrapt in total darkness., and see not the dim spectres, the half discovered shapes of mischief, which in the twilight of your soul, present themselves to your affrighted vision. At other times, a little relenting, you exclaim, “ O that it were with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord shined upon my tabernacle. What would I give to recall the views and feelings of those days. Happy seasons! Ye are fled like visions of spiritual beauty. And are ye fled for ever? Can no power recall you to this troubled mind ?" Yes, my young friend, they are all within reach, lingering to return. Fly to God in prayer, beseech, him to have mercy upon you. Implore him to rouse you from the slumber into which you have. fallen. Beware of the chilling influence of despondency. There is no room for despair. Covet the possession of true religion. Examine for the cause which destroyed your impressions in the time that is past. Was it some improper
companion ? Abandon him for ever, would a viper. Was it some situation unfriendly to godliness, which you voluntarily chose, as Lot did Sodom, on account of its worldly advantages ? Relinquish it without delay. Escape for thy life, and tarry pot in all the plain. Was it some besetting sin, dear as a right eye, or useful as a right hand ? Pluck it out, tear it off without hesitation or regret, for is it not better to make this sacrifice, than to lose eternal salvation, and endure everlasting torments? Was it self-dependence, self-confidence ? Now put your case into the hand of Omnipotence, and call upon God. Ask for the Holy Ghost to renew, to sanctify, and to keep your soul. Learn from your past failure what to do, and what to avoid for the future. Believe the gospel, which declares that the blood of Christ cleanseth froni all sin. It was faith that was wanting, in the first instance, to give permanence to your religious impressions. There was no belief, no full persuasion, no practical conviction, of the truth of the gospel. Your religious feelings were like the stream
raised by external and adventitious causes, but there was no spring. You stopped short of believing, you made no surrender of the soul to Christ, nor committed yourselves to him, to be justified by his righteousness, and to be sanctified by his spirit. This do and live.
On decision of character in religion.
How deep, and low just a reproach did the prophet cast upon the tribes of Israel, when he addressed to the assembled multitudes on Mount Carmel, that memorable interrogation, “How long halt ye between two opinions ? if the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him." From this it appears they were in a state of ine. decision, in reference to the most momentous question in the universe, not wholly satisfied that they were doing right in worshipping Baal, yet not sufficiently resolute to abandon his ser: vice. What a criminal, what a degrading, what a wretched state of mind! Not decided whom they would acknowledge to be their God! To whom they would pay divine homage! But is this state of mind, my dear children, uncommon? By no means. To how many of the youth who attend our places of devotional resort, could we address, with propriety, the same question, “ How long halt ye between two opinions ?" How many are there who can go no farther than Agrippa, when he said to Paul, “ Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Almost! Only almost persuaded to be a Christian! What a melancholy thought!!
In the last chapter you saw, in the character of Inconstans, an instance of this indecision. Did you admire it? Impossible. What was wanting?
-Decision. But what do I mean by decision? “ A fixed purpose, not made in haste, but with much deliberation; not in our own strength, but