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between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.” Isa. 59 : 2. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, is tender, and hath quick sensibility to your unkindnesses and offences. As ever, therefore, you expect comfort from him, be careful in your conduct towards him, and grieve him not.
7. This point speaks needful counsel to unbelievers—to all that live estranged from the life of God, and have done so from the womb. Psalm 58:3. To you the voice of the Redeemer sounds a summons once more : “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” O that at last you may be prevailed with to comply with the merciful terms propounded by him. Will you shut out a Saviour bringing salvation, pardon, and peace with him ? Christ is thy rightful owner, and demands possession of thy soul; if thou wilt now hear his voice, thy former refusals shall never be objected. If thou still reject his gracious offers, mercy may never more be tendered to thee; there is a call of Christ which will be the last call, and after that no more. Take heed what you do; if you still demur and delay, your damnation is just, inevitable, and inexcusable. Hear me, therefore, ye unregenerate souls, in what rank or condition soever Providence has placed you in this world, whether you be rich or poor, young or old, masters or servants, whether there be any stirrings of conviction in your consciences or not; for however your conditions in this world differ from each other at present, there is one common misery hanging over you all, if you continue in that state of unbelief in which you now are.
(1.) Hearken to the voice and call of Christ, you that are exalted by Providence above your poorer neighbors—who have your heads, hands, and hearts full of the world: men of trade and business, I have a few solemn questions to ask you this day.
You have made many gainful bargains in your time, but what will all profit you if the agreement be not made
between Christ and your souls ? Christ is the only treasure which can enrich you. Matt. 13:44. Thou art poor and miserable, whatever thou hast gained of this world, if thou hast not gained Christ; thou hast heaped up guilt with thy riches, which will more torment thy conscience hereafter, than thy estate can yield thee comfort here.
You have“ made many insurances to secure your estates, which you call policies; but what insurance have you made for your souls ? Are not they exposed to eternal hazards ? O impolitic man, to be so provident to secure trifles, and so negligent in securing the richest treasure.
You have adjusted many accounts with men, but who shall make up your accounts with God if you are Christless? “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?” Matt. 16:26. Say not, you have much business on your hands, and cannot afford time; you will have space enough hereafter to reflect upon your folly.
(2.) You who are poor in the world, what say you; will you have two hells, one here and another hereafter? No comfort in this world, nor hope for the next? Your expectations here laid in the dust, and your hopes for heaven built upon the sand ? O if you were once in Christ, how happy were you, though you knew not where to obtain your next bread. Poor in the world, but rich in faith ; and heirs of the kingdom which God has promised. James 2:5. O blessed state. If you had Christ, you would have a right to all things, 1 Cor. 3:22, 23; you would then have a Father to take care for you. But to be poor and Christless, no comfort from this world nor hopes from the next, this is to be miserable indeed. Your very straits and wants should prompt you to the great duty I am now pressing on you ; and methinks it should be matter of encouragement that the greatest number of Christ's friends and followers come out of that rank of men to which you belong.
(3.) You who are seamen, floating often on the great deep, you are reckoned a third sort of persons between the living and the dead; you belong not to the dead, because you breathe, and scarcely to the living, because you are continually so near to death. What think you, friends, have you no need of a Saviour ? Do you live so secure from the reach and danger of death ? Have your lives been so pure, righteous, and innocent, who have been in the midst of temptations in the world abroad? Ponder that scripture, 1 Cor. 6:9, 10 : “Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God;" ponder it, I say, and think whether you have not as great and pressing a necessity of Jesus Christ as any poor souls under heaven. You have had from God many temporal salvations, great and eminent deliverances; and will these satisfy you? Is it enough that your bodies are delivered from the danger of the sea, though your souls sink and perish in the ocean of God's wrath for ever? If you will yet accept Christ upon his terms, all that you have done shall be forgiven. Isa. 55:1, 2. The Lord now calls to you in a still voice : if you hear his voice, well; if not, you may shortly hear his voice in the tempestuous storms without you, and a roaring conscience within you. Poor man, think what an interest in Christ will be worth, wert thou now, as shortly thou mayest be, floating on a piece of wreck, or shivering on a cold and desolate rock, crying, Mercy, Lord, mercy. Mercy is now offered thee, but in vain wilt thou expect to find it, if thou continue thus to despise and reject it.
(4.) You who are aged and full of days, hearken to the voice of Christ; God has called on you a long time. When you were young you said, it is time enough yet, we will mind these things when we are old, and come nearer to the borders of eternity. Well, now you are old, and just on the borders of it; will you indeed mind it now? You have left the great concerns of your souls to this time, this short, very short time ; and do the temptations of your youth take hold upon your age? What, delay and put off Christ still, as you were wont to do? Poor creatures, you are almost gone out of time, you have but a short space to deliberate; what you do must be done quickly, or it can never be done. Your night is even come upon you, when no man can work.
(5.) You who are young, in the bud or flower of your time, Christ is a suitor for your first love ; he desires the kindness of your youth; your spirits are vigorous, your hearts tender, your affections flowing and impressible ; you are not yet entered into the incumbrances and distracting cares of the world. Hereafter a crowd and thick succession of earthly employments and engagements will come on; sin will harden you by custom and continuance. Now is your time; you are in the convertible age; few that pass the season of youth are brought to Christ afterwards. It is the wonder of an age to hear of the conversion of aged sinners. Besides, you are the hope of the next generation. Should you neglect and despise Christ, how bad soever the present age is, the next will be worse. Say not, we have time enough before us, we will not quench the sprightly vigor of our youth in melancholy thoughts. Remember, there are skulls of all sizes and graves of all lengths in the churchyard. You may die before those that seem to stand nearer the grave than you. O you cannot be happy too soon. As young as you are, did you but taste the comforts that are in Christ, nothing would grieve you more than that you knew him no sooner. Behold, he standeth at thy door in the morning of thy age, knocking this day for admission into thy heart.
(6.) To you who have had some slight, ineffectual, and vanishing convictions formerly, the Lord Jesus once more renews his call. Will you now at last hear his voice? It is an infinite mercy to have a second call. I doubt not but many among you, while you have sat under the word, have had such thoughts as these in your hearts : “Sure my condition is not right, nor safe ; there must another manner of work pass upon my soul, or I am lost for ever. External duties of religion I do perform, but I am a stranger to regeneration.” Such inward convictions as these were the knocks and calls of Christ, but they passed away and were forgotten : your convictions are dead, and your hearts the more hardened ; for it is with a soul under conviction as in putting iron into the fire, and quenching it again; this hardens it the more. You have been near the kingdom of God, but will be the more miserable for that, if you are shut out at last. The quickening of your convictions is the right way to the saving of your souls. The Lord make you this day to hear his voice.
(7.) Such as go to hear the gospel on vain accounts, for merè novelty or worse ends—to catch advantages, or to reproach the truths of God—scoffing at the most solemn voice of Christ : the word that you have slighted and reproached, the same shall judge you in that great day, except the Lord give you repentance unto life, and make the heart tremble under it that hath scoffed at it. “Be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong.” Isa. 28 : 22.
(8.) Let all whose hearts the Lord has opened this day, for the enjoyment of the gospel, the blessed instrument of their salvation, bless the Lord that has made it a key by regeneration to open the door of salvation to your souls : " And as ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, 50 walk ye in him." Col. 2:6.