Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

ary world, and recount not only every mercy of God, but every dealing of his paternal faithfulness with his wayward child, and your insensibility and incorrigibleness under the discipline.

Call up to-day some of the reminiscences of the past. Let recollection bring back the time when, arrested by the hand of God, you found yourself prostrate and helpless on a bed of sickness. Then an opening grave, a proffered heaven, a threatened hell, a despised yet infinitely-needed Saviour, seized upon your thoughts and constrained reflection and prayer, and you resolved, under the pressure of these then felt truths, to devote your remaining days to the service of God, should He in mercy spare and raise you up. But you forgot it all, your sickness and your vows, as soon as you recovered ; but those broken vows, made to God in that solemn hour, though hidden, are not effaced from the tablets of your soul. Like characters written with invisible ink, and which are brought out by exposure to heat, so will they be revealed by the fires of the final day; and they will be remembered while eternity endures.

Think again. God has taken from you cherished friends, from whose dying lips, from whose opening graves, you have heard the warning, “ Prepare to meet thy God !” For a time the impression of that solemn death-scene lingered in your mind and restrained your conduct, but at length you effaced it all, and now think, perhaps, that the unpleasant reflections which it once suggested, will never more revisit your heart. But be not deceived. That scene, with its attendant circumstances, is engraved on your spiritual being in characters of immortality; and memory will one day revive it, and confront you with the unwelcome record; and no hand will ever be able to efface it—no voice command it away. Transfixed in mute astonishment and despair, the soul will look upon, and read and ponder the pages of a past and almost forgotten experience, as memory reproduces them, one after another, and holds them up before the mind.

Sinners will remember in eternity the evil influence which they exerted while on earth, and all the fatal consequences of it. The wretched man alluded to in the text, when he found there was no relief to be had for himself, entreated that his “five brethren," whom he had left behind, might be warned, lest they also should come to the same place of torment. Was this request the dictate of benevolence towards his brethren?" Not at all, there is no benevolence in hell. There can be no natural affection. Every being is perfectly selfish and perfectly hateful. There is no pity felt there for sinners on earth; no desires cherished in the bosom of the lost, for their salvation and happiness. The Devil would make every creature as wicked and as miserable as himself; and this doubtless is the spirit of that entire world of total and unrestrained depravity. But there is remorse in hell, and this will

felt

account for this seemingly strange request. This despairing and tormented man remembered the influence he had exerted upon those five brethren; his conscience already accused him in their name.

He dreaded the thought of being confronted with them face to face in that world of torment. He knew well that their presence would torture him eternally with the reflection that he had been an accomplice in their guilt and ruin, perhaps their corrupter and destroyer; and, if possible, he would escape this additional pang; he could not endure their bitter reproaches. And no doubt the remembrance of the ruin which they have brought upon others, causes the keenest and most excruciating pang in the world of torment. Few go there alone. Few can look around them there and not see some dooined spirit reproaching them with its ruin.

My unconverted hearer, have not some of your companions gone before you into eternity, and gone unprepared ? They, doubtless, remember their ungodly example in this life, and their evil influence over you, and, if they could, would prevent your following them to their dismal abode. Perhaps they are even now begging that some messenger may be sent to warn you of your approaching doom, and to entreat you not to come to that place of torment. But soon, if you repent not, you will be with them, and like them; and, like the rich man, you will remember what you have done for the ruin of others; that you lent your example and influence to the enemy of their souls.

Are you a parent? God has committed to your care the souls of those whom you love as your own life, and bidden you to train them to virtue, to piety, and heaven. But by your example, the most powerful of all influences upon their minds, you are training them up for sin, and impenitence, and perdition. And if they shall follow you in your footsteps down to death, as they are likely to do, you will remember your agency in their ruin. You will remember, that, had you taught them, and lived before them, as you ought, they might have been with you, adoring spirits before the throne, instead of hopeless outcasts and exiles. Oh! what a fact for a parent to remember through eternity. What remorse and anguish will it for ever awaken!

But you sustain other relations in which you are exerting the same kind of influence over other minds. This influence, unseen, it may be, now, will be revealed in the light of eternity, and as its fruit, many of those whom you loved in life may be sharers of your eternal prison. A husband or wife, a brother or sister, a friend or associate may there reproach you as the instrument of their eternal undoing, pointing you to the very temptation by which you ensnared them, to the laugh or sneer by which you banished their serious thoughts, and led them to grieve the Spirit of God, to the whole life of sin and impenitence which you lived before them. Ah! you will remember it all; and bitter indeed will be the reflection—bitter enough, with no other agents of misery, to overwhelm the soul with remorse and anguish. What then, with all its other bitter ingredients, must be the sinner's cup of final woe!

But we will pursue these thoughts no farther. I have endeavored, in what I have said, not to rely upon conjecture, but to keep within the range of Scripture teaching, and legitimate inference from it. These views, we know, are not pleasing and grateful to unrenewed hearts, but if they are in accordance with the facts of the case, they are of immense importance, and every unconverted soul should strive to realize now, what, unless he speedily repent, he must realize when it is too late to find relief.

Imagine, then, the change already past, which may pass upon you at any hour ;-imagine yourself engaged in the reflections I have been describing. The affairs of earth are all over, and you are reviewing them from your abode in eternity. A voice from the bright world above, which you can see but cannot enter, says to you, “ Son, remember!” and all the scenes of probation start up belore you, as witnesses to the justice of your doom, and in the words of inspiration, thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, “How have I hated instruction, and

my heart despised reproof!" There are the golden opportunities I wasted, and the countless gifts of my Father's goodness which I abused. There is the long, dark, terrible catalogue of my sins, which must witness against me for ever. There is the hea. ven I might have gained. There is the glorious Saviour, in whose presence I might have spent my eternity. There is the vacant seat I might have occupied-ihe untuned harp I might have strung. But here I am in hell! the place of which I so often heard, but to which I never for a moment meant to coine,

Yet here I am at last, a hopeless, accursed, despairing exile from all good : the enemy of my God, the victim of my own impenitence, the inurderer of n

my own soul,-lost! for ever lost! Oh! that the humblest saint in heaven might bring me but one drop of water, to cool my burning tongue !

My unconverted hearer, are these pictures real or not? They are as certainly real and true as that the Word of God is real and true ; and being so, your soul is in jeopardy every hour. Nothing but the slender thread of life holds you one moment from this world of torment. Let that thread be cut, and all this will become a terrible reality to you in a single hour.

I forewarn you of it now, while you can escape, and I implore you to heed the warning, and take refuge in Christ. Go to him in penitence and contrition--go as a perishing sinner,---go at once, and you are safe.

BY REV. E. C. PRITCHETT,

New York.

Rome,

THE CHRISTIAN AS A REFORMER.

“ Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove

them.”—EPHESIANS, 5:11.

All men ought to labor and pray for the extinction of evil and the prevalence of good. What all men ought to do the Christian endeavors to effect. When sins are on every hand thrusting up their horrid fronts, unabashed and bare, or are masking their deformity under the seemly guise of some pretended good, the child of God will not fail to cry, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?” And such an inquiry has peculiar significance at a time like this, when Christians have been led to see that their relations extend far beyond their parish or vicinity: and it is not easy to evade the sense of responsibility by asking " Who is my neighbor ?" To such a prayer for wisdom, the Spirit, through the apostle, answers in the words of our text, “ Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.'

The term “darkness," as used here, means depravity, which is clear from its evident purport in the 8th verse : " Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are light in the Lord.” The phrase “ works of darkness” consequently signifies sins, the results of moral depravity in general, and no particular class of them rather than another. Well may they be called unfruitful,—for all that shall be finally achieved by those who persist in committing them will be but the negation of good and all hope of good, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power, the undying worm, and the unquenchable fire of Gehenna. These are the fruits of the works of darkness. With regard to them, the Christian's duty is twofold in its aspect,-negative and positive ; and in this order let us consider it.

I. Negative.—"Have no fellowship.”

There are several kinds of connection with evil and with evildoers, which may be mistaken for the forbidden fellowship. Consequently the indolent, the man-fearing, and the man-pleasing,

is wrong

while they see that some connection is clearly allowed in the Bible, may imagine that every species of it, in turn, may be connived at, when convenient. Meanwhile, by a mistake as to the import of the term in question, a conscientious disciple, eager at all risks to clear his skirts of sin, may be so misled as to waste his energies—and then his spirit will deteriorate, and his influence be destroyed. Moreover, the Pharisaical and censorious may so interpret the Word as to feel justified in giving a wide range to the exhibition of their unlovely and invidious spirit towards their erring fellow-men; and then others, irritated by their folly, may rush in the same spirit to the opposite extreme, and surpass them in the absurdity and ferocity with which they will advocate what

Thus professors of religion, instead of presenting the dignified spectacle of wise men, by kind discussion and enlightened investigation seeking to unite on the best means of removing evil, may appear involved in a confused tumult, where the dust of the conflict and the fantastic tricks of the combatants blind men's eyes to the question at issue ; and the attractive Christian graces shrink into oblivion, while wrath, clamor and evil speaking sweep

like a whirlwind over the arena. Instead of trusting to our fallible powers of ratiocination, let us in the light of the Scripture endeavor to discriminate between what is and what is not the fellowship forbidden.

1. All and every kind of intercourse with evil-doers is not included; for we are commanded to rebuke, and this implies some intercourse. Besides, we are exhorted to do good unto all men, as we have opportunity.

2. All friendly intercourse with even gross sinners is not prohibited. Our Saviour sat at meat with publicans and sinners and Pharisees; and Paul instructs Christians how to conduct them. selves when invited to a feast by an unbeliever; and in 1 Cor. 5:10, expressly says, that they cannot avoid the company of grossly wicked men who are unbelievers, “ for then must ye needs go out of the world.” It may be noted that the self-banishment of the ascetic is treated by the apostle as a thing entirely out of the question.

3. All business intercourse is not interdicted. In 1 Cor. 10: 25, permission, and even advice is given : “ whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake;" and that' too, when the buying of the article in question might well be thought to encourage idolatry, for the heathen priests were accustomed to sell in the shambles meat that had been sacrificed to idols, and thus converted it into a source of revenue and reward for their idol service.

4. The discharge of the relative duties which arise out of the family relation is not included in the prohibition. The connection

« ElőzőTovább »