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boast of to-morrow, not knowing what a day might bring
“ Unskilful he to fawn, or seek for power,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise.” I have seen him at the Sunday-schools, when the eyes of the boys and the girls have sparkled with pleasure as he mingled among them. Neither their heads nor their hearts were unheeded, and if they were not always getting good from him, it was not the fault of the village pastor. He urged them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, to love Him who loved and gave himself for sinners, and to bind to their hearts those Holy Scriptures, which were able to make them “ wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus," 2 Tim. iii. 15.
In attending to his flock he neglected none of his little ones ; the lambs were looked after as well as the sheep, for he loved them, and led them on gently in the way to the heavenly fold.
“ Thus in his duty prompt at every call,
Allurd to brighter worlds, and led the way.” And I have seen him, too, in the habitation of sickness and sorrow, where he was as a sunbeam among the shadows around him. Oh how sweetly did he once cheer up the fainting spirit of an aged pilgrim, drawing near the end of his pilgrimage. He read to him, prayed with him, conversed with him, and so delightfully picked and culled the precious promises of God's holy word for his support and advantage, that by the time he took up his hat to depart, that aged servant of God, comforted and refreshed by Christian consolation, was ready, clasping his hands, to say, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” Luke ii. 30.
At the sick-bed he was faithful as well as affectionate, neither sparing sin, nor being backward to bind up the wounds of a repentant sinner. Not soon shall I forget the village pastor, the friend and father of his people.
“ Beside the bed where parting life was laid,
And sorrow, guilt, and pain by turns dismay'd,
The reverend champion stood.” Thus blessed, and made a blessing, was the village pastor. He lived and died among his people,
“ And his last faltering accents whisper'd praise." Now, doubtless, he is re-united with many of them in everlasting life and bliss.
“ WHY DO WE SIT STILL?” This was the question which the Jews put to one another when on the eve of the invasion of Judea by the Chaldeans. “ Danger is near,” said they, “and we are unprotected. Here in the open country we have no walls of defence, no rocks to which to flee, no hope of escape: the defenced cities invite us to their protection ; why do we sit still?'” Jer. viii. 14.
And why do sinners out of Christ sit still ?
Their danger is imminent and tremendous. The representation of these dangers in the Scriptures fills the mind with awe. They are under the sentence of eternal death.
6. The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezek. xviii. 20.
6 Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,” Gal. iii. 10. They not only deserve to die, but are assigned to death by the sentence of the unchanging law of God, whose power nothing can resist.
And sinners are exposed to the infliction of this penalty every moment,
God is angry with the wicked every day. The suspended sword of justice is prevented from falling upon them by the mere will of God. They are spared, not because their sins are forgotten or forgiven, but because mercy cries, Spare a little longer.”
What if they now see no signs of danger? Health is no security against disease or death. How often does the rose on the cheek bloom, and fade, and die in a week! The arrows of the destroyer, though unseen by the keenest vision, are ever flying thickly and swiftly around us. When there is not a sign of its approach, the wrath of God may drop upon the sinner like a flash of lightning from a clear and cloudless sky.
Nor can sinners, by any care or prudence of their own, while reglecting the refuge God has provided, escape this danger. On this point they rest under an awful delusion.
Whilst God is under no obligation to keep them a moment out of hell, they are deceiving themselves with many false pleas that they shall finally escape. But all this is building on clouds and trusting in shadows. And how often has sudden destruction fallen upon them whilst weaving the web of hope as to the future! Why, then, do they sit still ?
But am I sitting still ? a momentous inquiry in reference to your salvation. Yes, you may be sitting still, although in some degree conscious of danger. How many sinners are fully satisfied that the storm of God's wrath is approaching, who yet make no effort to avoid it! They sit still without using the means provided for their escape. Their depravity neutralizes the influence of their knowledge, and they sit still.
You may be sitting still, though you have serious convictions of sin. Pharaoh, and Saul, and Judas, and Ananias were the subjects of as powerful convictions as were multitudes who have been saved; but they resisted them, and finally perished. And many readers are, no doubt, sitting still as to all right preparation to meet the danger that awaits them, who are no strangers to religious convictions, and who, under bitter consciousness of guilt, often lift a cry to Heaven for pardon.
You may also be sitting still though you attend on the ordinary means of grace, the reading and preaching of the word, and prayer. These are all designed to lead us to Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes," Rom. x, 4. But, alas ! how many hear the word preached regularly on the sabbath, and read the Bible with no little interest, and even pray for the pardon of their sins, who are yet sitting still as to the great work of their salvation. They have no heartfelt desire of attaining this blessing. They are utter strangers to the feelings of Paul, which induced him to exclaim, “ I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ,” Phil. iii. 8. Though in the use of the external means, they are yet sitting still. The storm is approaching, and they are without a cover to protect them.
The sum of the matter is this. The danger of sinners is as has been described. Christ Jesus is the only hiding place from that danger. And whatever they do, or whatever they leave undone, unless they are pursuing the course which leads to Christ, they are sitting still. They need not be avowed
unbelievers, nor opposers of religion, nor profane swearers, nor yet cold-hearted assenters to the truth : on the contrary, they may be theoretical believers, and be friendly to the extension of religion, and be moral and amiable, and regular attendants on the sanctuary, and occasionally solicitous as to their salvation, and if they go no further they are sitting still. They may consider themselves busily engaged in the great work of preparation, but they are only engaged as is the man who is piling up dry stubble to check the conflagration, or who is building a wall of chaff to stay the whirlwind. Every man is sitting still who is not with his whole heart, and in dependence upon the Spirit of God for success, agonizing to enter in at the strait gate—trusting wholly in Christ. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him
If this end be not obtained, the great end of life is lost, and our very being will be an immeasurable calamity. To sit still while such an end is before us, and such wrath is suspended over us, is most unreasonable.
1. Every thing around us is moving on to the attainment of the great end of its being ; the sun in the heaven, the moon and stars, and the earth we inhabit. The beasts around us are all obedient to their instincts. The little ants crowd their storehouses in suinmer with provisions for winter.
66 The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle, the crane, and the swallow observe the time of their coming, Jer. viii. 7. And why does man sit still? He knows that he does not rise upon the great ocean of life like a bubble, to float there for a brief space, and then to disappear for ever. He is born never to die.
2. This is contrary to the usual course of man on other subjects. A fleet has reached our shores, and is pouring in upon us an invading army; and are any sitting still ? are in great danger of losing your property ; do you sit still, leaving its preservation to what is called the chances of fortune? Who, then, will fold his hands when dangers threaten the eternal ruin of the soul?
3. Thus to sit still is in opposition to our judgment, conscience, and best interests. Have these lines a reader whose judgment is not convinced of the danger to which sin exposes him, and of the duties which he owes to God and to man? or one whose conscience does not upbraid him for the neglect of these duties? All may be quiet without, but can you say as much of conscience ?
4. Perseverance in sitting still makes the sinner a selfmurderer. Every man under the gospel greatly aggravates his guilt by his rejection of Jesus Christ. The rejection of Christ is a damning sin. In Christ we have a remedy as broad as our disease; we have, in him, a way of escape as effectual as our danger is fearful. If we fail to use the means appointed to bring us to the Lord Jesus Christ, then we are lost, not merely because we are sinners, but because we fail to use the appointed means. We are, therefore, self-murderers. For the sinner to secure his eternal death, it is not necessary that he should be profane, or an infidel, or a neglecter of public worship; all that is necessary is to sit still in the way we have now explained. And if lost by thus sitting still, upon every door, window, and wall of his eternal prison-house will be written in letters of fire, " Thou hast destroyed thyself.”
And now why will any sinner who reads these pages sit still a moment longer ? Will your guilt be ever less than now? Will you ever have a more fit time than now to work out your salvation ? Or, do you expect a more suitable Saviour, or terms of life more easy? To these questions you reply in the negative. Why, then, sit still ? The law is thundering, and why do you not fear? Mercy is inviting, and why not hearken? The storm is rising, and Jesus is inviting you to the ark ; why not fly to it as on dove's wings?
Escape for thy life; look not behind thee; neither stay thou in all the plain : escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed,” Gen. xix. 17. Sit not still a moment longer.
CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. Study, Christian reader, study the Saviour's character, more especially in this his most attractive aspect: seek to obtain, above all, his spirit of overflowing love. Let your every look be illumined by its radiance, your every word be attuned to its tenderness, your every temper be cast in its mould, and your every action regulated by its laws. Let love, like his, be the very soul of your soul, the animating and presiding spirit in which you live, and move, and have your being. Such love is, indeed, the fulfilling of the law.
It will lead you to delight, as he did, in all those little offices of kindness, by which you may minister to the comfort and happiness of the members of the domestic or social circle, as well as to labour unweariedly for the salvation of