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tion of repenting, if not before, yet on a deathbed? Alas! how many are cut off by sudden death: how many bereft of reason by the violence of disease ! how many are seized with madness, incurable madness ! how many, I say, perish without one cry for mercy, and eternally curse their folly, in being the dupes of such a delusion ! “ Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of
any bird.” You evidently see the design of Satan in this temptation : he aims only to lull you into security, till he can plunge you into despair ; and then he will insult over you. But even should you have a space given you before death, can you reasonably hope, that God will then give you his grace, which you have so long refused? Are you sure you shall improve those hours ? Can you at last, in your own strength, when you are languishing under a violent disorder, overcome all those difficulties, which you have considered as next to insurmountable, even with the assistance of divine grace, all the days of your health ? Will you need any additional anguish, when your bones are full of strong pain, and nature is even sinking under the load? Can you then be sure that your repentance is real and genuine, when you have no opportunity of bringing it to a trial by the fruits which it produces ? One instance indeed is recorded of a dying penitent, to shew that repentance, even in those circumstances, is neither impossible nor unavailing; and but one, to teach us, that such cases are very rare. To-day, then, make sure of this important concern.
“ Give not sleep “ to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eye-lids : “ deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the
hunter, and as a bird from the snare of the “ fowler."
“ Remember therefore your Creator in the days “ of your youth.” Remember your obligations and relations to him, and your offences against him: remember, repent, and seek forgiveness without delay, through that Saviour, who hath promised that “they who seek him early shall find
But, indeed, this best season is already elapsed with many; and it is too late to exhort them to early repentance. Perhaps some are dolefully lamenting, “ My youth has been spent in vanity and ungodliness : yea the prime of life is irrecoverably past, and I am growing hoary in ways of ' wickedness: what must I do? Is there nothing ' for me, but a certain fearful looking for of judg‘ment, and fiery indignation?' Indeed, my fellow sinner, thy case is very deplorable : the day is almost spent : “ the night, wherein no man can
work,” is swiftly approaching: thy work is not begun; yea, all thou hast been doing, during the whole course of thy life, must be as it were undone. Thou must travel back again,“ with weep
ing and supplication,” all the way which thou hast trodden for so many years. Death, judgment, and eternity press upon thy unprepared soul. The grave is yawning for thy enfeebled body: and, should death seize upon thee, ere repentance hath taken place, it had been good for thee, hadst thou never been born. Still, however, thy case is not desperate : though provoked by thy impenitence, the Lord yet renews his compassionate invitations.
If then thy heart begin to relent; if remorse embitter thy soul; if thou art at length willing to “ acknowledge thy offence, and seek his face;" come, and cast thyself at his feet, and venture upon
and truth, who saith, “Him that “ cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." If indeed thou art renewed to repentance, though “ at the ninth or eleventh hour, thou shalt be “ equalled to those who have borne the heat and “ burden of the day.” Herein lies the danger and the difficulty ; but with God all things are possible: he “ can change the Ethiopian's skin and “ the leopard's spots ;” and by his power, even “ thou, who hast been long accustomed to do evil,
mayest learn to do well.” Admire then his long-suffering, who hath borne with thy impenitent disregard of his precepts and promises, his authority and invitations, for forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years : and hath neither cut thee off by death, nor deprived thee of thy much abused reason, nor left thee to utter insensibility! This is distinguishing patience!
Methinks, aged sinner, I see thy relentings, hear thy groans, and witness thy tears, confusion, and despondency: while the crimes of a long life pass in review before thee, the sword of divine justice is brandished against thee, conscience reproaches, and Satan insinuates that it is now' too late.' Yea, thou art even inclined once more to. listen to his insinuations, and to conclude that there is “ no hope,” and that, after such a life, thy late repentance and worthless services will never meet with acceptance. But reject this dishonour
able thought: resist the lying tempter: when he persuaded thee, heretofore, that it was too early in life to repent, he led thee to the brink of an awful precipice ; if he prevail in persuading thee that it is now too late, he pushes thee headlong into everlasting ruin! In both he acts in character—"a liar and a murderer from the beginning.”
“God's ways are above our ways, and his thoughts above our thoughts,” and “his mer“cies are higher than the heavens :" else the case of the aged sinner would be desperate. But, though he will not accept the late repentance, and the feeble obedience of one poor hour, because they merit such a favour ; yet, “ for his own name's sake,” and through the atonement and intercession of Jesus, he will pardon, justify, and save all those who truly “repent and believe the “gospel.” This discovery of the unspeakable riches of divine love, whilst it gives encouragement to the drooping heart, ought to increase the sinner's remorse for having so neglected, and provoked a God of such excellence and mercy; and to quicken his diligence, in availing himself of the divine patience, by“ fleeing for refuge to the hope" still set before him. “ To-day, if ye will hear his voice,” before to-morrow, embrace his proffered mercy, and “ harden not your hearts." —And, whatever stage of human life you are now arrived at, I can only inculcate the same exhortation—“ Behold, now is “ the accepted time; behold, now is the day of “ salvation"-and suggest the same petition, “So “ teach us to number our days, that we may apply
210 A DISCOURSE UPON REPENTANCE. our hearts unto wisdom.”*
“ Whatsoever thy “ hand findeth to do, do it” speedily, and“ with thy “ might; for there is no work, nor device, nor
knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither “ thou goest."of I have shewn you, that this, of all others, is the most necessary and important work you can find to do:” make then no delay, lest," he swear in his wrath, that you shall never
enter into his rest.”
* Psalm xc. 12.
+ Eccles. ix. 10.