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known the peace of entering into your closet, and shutting the door, and praying to your FATHER which is in secret ? Have you known the joy of worshipping God in the blessed worship of His house? Or have these things been mere outside forms to you? Then as to the Bible, have you cared to read it that you may know God's will, and fashion your life as He would have it? Have you ever, in any little way, felt anything like what is meant by the words, “Lord, what love have I unto Thy law : all the day long is my study in it”: “My delight shall be in Thy commandments, which I have loved ”? And, once more, have you learnt the strength and blessedness of the faithful partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ in His holy Sacrament? Have you loved to obey your Master's dying command, “This do in remembrance of Me?
Do you know at all what He meant when He said, “My Flesh is nieat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed”? My poor suffering friend, let me put it very plainly to you as one of the lessons God is now desiring to teach you.
Without these things you cannot be a true Christian. Without Prayer the soul must die as surely as the body without breath. Without the Bible you must lose your way as surely as a traveller in a thick forest without a guide. Without Holy Communion your soul must be faint and sick as surely as your body without its needful food. Do you forget the words of the Lord Himself? “Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you”: - He meant, no life in your souls. 5. But one lesson more. GOD is teaching you to prepare to die. Death must come. It may not be now, or soon,—but iT MAY. And it is a very very solemn and awful thing to die. If the soul died as well as the body, it would not be so tremendous a thing. But the soul never dies. And it will surely be a moment full of awe when the soul goes forth to meet its God. And suppose that moment were at hand, and you not ready! Oh, put not off this great work of preparation to which God is calling you ! Prepare to die.
God may have more years in store for you. We know not. But this we do know, that He means you so to use this time of sickness that, if you live, you may live unto the Lord, and, if
, you die, you may die unto the LORD; so that, living or dying, you may be the LORD's. Oh, may such be the fruit of this His Fatherly chastisement of His child, for JESUS CHRIST'S sake. Amen.
THE PRODIGAL SON.
(FOR THE IMPENITENT.) I COME to you as God's messenger to speak to you a few very solemn words concerning a matter of life and death.
I must begin with a short question. It is this: Are you fit to die? I am sure,
if you were to answer this question, you would be true and honest enough to say, “No; I am not fit to die.” Perhaps you have too much reason to say so. Perhaps you have lived such a life as gives you little ground for thinking
yourself fit to die. You may have been an open sinner; or you may have been hard, and careless, and worldly. I do not come here to judge, or to reproach you, or to cast your sins in your teeth.
. Thank God, my task is very different. I come to
I you as a brother sinner, and yet as God's priest bearing His message, to hold out a helping hand to you
in God's name, and for the sake of His dear Son. Will you let me help you?
Now, I am taking for granted that you both know and acknowledge your deep sinfulness, and the utterly hopeless state in which you must die, if no help can be found. You would not like to die without hope? Come, then, and let us reason together.
I suppose the question you would like to ask me is this: “Can there be any hope for such as I am ? ?
Yes, brother, there can.
No; it is never too late, while God gives the power to seek mercy. Listen to me:
“A certain man had two sons; -I - I think you remember the story;-you remember
—you how the younger one left his home, and “wasted his substance in riotous living,” and brought himself at last to utter poverty and misery. That young man in the story fell very low indeed. But at last he came to himself, and made a great effort, and determined to arise and go to his father. Now I want you to try to forget the rest of the story, and to think how you would expect the poor prodigal's father to act when he saw him come back, if you knew only that he was a very kind and good father. Would you not be inclined to say, 'If he were a very
kind and good
father, he would, perhaps, give his son another trial; and, then, if he behaved well, and showed he was in earnest in trying to lead a new life, he would forgive him'? But the story does not end in that way, as you know. Instead of that, " When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Oh marvellous Love ! The father is more ready to forgive than the son is to ask forgiveness! There is no waiting, no fresh trial, no proving of the sincerity of his repentance. The pardon is free, full, instantancous. And this is, as all know, a picture of Gop and the returning sinner. Well, then, is there not hope for the worst?
There are other places which speak the same thing
Did not Isaiah say, “ Come now and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”? And St. John, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"?
Do you wish to come to this loving FATHER, and to find pardon and mercy? Then lose not a moment. “ Now is the accepted time.”
But you ask, “How shall I come?'
First, you must come in repentance. That is, you must be heartily grieved at the remembrance of
your past sins, and heartily anxious to be free from them. A true repentance should be such as, if we should be spared for a new trial, should beget in us new lives. But remember this : if you have not time granted you in which to show forth the sincerity of your repentance before men, GoD needs no such proof. whether it is sincere or not. The prodigal son
This may be
any reason in
was pardoned without showing much fruit of his repentance : so was the dying thief.
Now, as CHRIST's minister, I am ready to help you in this work of repentance, if you will let me. I can help you to omitted, if for question your conscience, so that you applicable. may learn better what your sins are. And I can help you
if is troubled with any special sin, and you will unburden your heart to me, for our Church directs, in the Service for the Visitation of the Sick, that “the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter.” And I need hardly say, that anything you may say to me, of that sort, will be held sacred, and never known to any other except to God.
Then, secondly, you must come to God in faith ; that is, placing all your hope and trust in the Sacrifice of our dear REDEEMER on the Cross, and seeking to be saved through Him alone. You might repent, and confess your sins; but there could be no pardon for those sins, except through the most precious Blood of JESUS CHRIST, which cleanseth from all sin. So that, in coming to God, you must come through His dear Son. He is the way. Think of His love in dying for lost sinners. Think how He was crowned with thorns, and scourged, and nailed to the Cross. Think what untold agonies of soul and body He bore for you, to save you from everlasting death. Ask Him to draw you to Him by the thought of all this love. Then
you will long to do all you can to prove your repentance and your faith, and I hope I may say your love too.
You will long to draw