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securing its accomplishment without delay. You see that the change is of indispensable necessity. Without it, you can never be saved. Without it, you can never enter heaven. You see, too, that it must be accomplished in this life, or never. Yes, in this life, or never. And what is your life? "A vapor, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
"An empty tale; a morning flower,
And, my unconverted hearers, what are you now thinking of? And what are you doing? Here you are, on a little inch of time. A great work is to be accomplished, or your souls are lost. And this work must be accomplished here, or never. Yes, here, or never. And can it be, that you are suffering these fleeting, golden moments to pass unimproved? Can it be, that you are busying yourselves with the poor concerns of this narrow life, and suffering the great interests of the soul to lie neglected? When you see yourselves in the midst of the stream, and going down with the resistless current, and just ready to plunge into the abyss below; can it be that you are sporting with the bubbles on the surface, and neglecting that great work without which you know you can never be admitted to the abodes of the blessed?
Do I hear any saying, "We cannot change our own hearts-it is the work of the Spirit to change the heart; and until the Spirit is bestowed, nothing can be done; and we are not to blame?" On this point I have several things to say. And, in the first place, let me remind you, that you and your Maker are here directly at issue. God virtually says to you, in a multitude of passages, that you can, "make you a new heart;" or, which is the same thing, that you can turn off your affections from the world, and fix them on himself; that you can be sorry and penitent for your sins; that you can embrace that Saviour, who stands before you with open arms, saying, "Come, come, for all things are now ready." To perform these indispensable duties, God insists that you have all requisite natural power; and that you need the Spirit, not to give you the ability to do what you cannot do, but to make you willing to do what you can. Accordingly, in urging the plea of inability, and thus excusing yourselves from blame you are really contesting the point with God, and giving him the lie to his face. You say that you cannot do, and of course are not to blame for neglecting, what he says you can do, and ought to do, and what he declares that he will punish you forever if you refuse to do. This point, therefore, I must leave you to settle, as you can, between God and your own conscience.
But in the second place, I urge, that this plea of inability is with many of you, probably, a mere pretence, under the cover of which you hope to escape from the force of truth and the pressure of obligation, and is urged by you with manifest insincerity. My reasons for saying this are, that we do not see you manifesting that degree of feeling and earnestness of endeavor to do what you admit you can do, which we might expect to see, on supposition that your alleged inability to do all that is required, were sincerely and honestly urged. There are certain things which you admit you can do, which may have a tendency to promote your preparation for heaven; and now I would ask, whether you are diligently doing even these. You can feel solicitous and anxious on the subject of your salvation; do you feel thus? In your solicitude on this important subject, you can go into your closet, and shut the door, and bend the knee before your heavenly Father, and implore his mercy. Are you accustomed to do this? Where, allow me to ask, is the secret place, to which you daily retire, and pray, "God be merciful to me a sinner?" Is there any such place under heaven? Again, in your solicitude on this mighty subject, you can go to your minister, or to some Christian friend in whom you have confi
dence, and tell him of your anxieties, and ask his counsel and his prayers. Did you ever do this? Or will you promise me that you will do it, the first opportunity? If you are not willing to make such a promise, then it is plain that you do not feel or manifest any proper solicitude on the subject. It is plain that you do not think or care seriously about it. It is plain to me, that this cry of inability has been set up, not because you feel greatly troubled with it, but as a convenient refuge of lies, under cover of which you hope to escape from the force of religious truth, and the pressure of moral obligation. And I will further say, what is very plain to me, that unless this refuge of lies is abandoned, and you come to feel and acknowledge that the requirements of God are reasonable, and can be and ought to be obeyed, I see not how you are ever to be awakened, converted, or saved.
I admit that there are some things connected with your salvation which you cannot do, and which you are not required to do; but there are other things which you can do, and ought to do, and must do, if they are ever done. You cannot make an atonement for your sins; but you can embrace that atonement which Christ has made for you. You cannot cancel your debt to Divine justice; but you can accept the free forgiveness of this debt, which is proffered you on the terms of the gospel. You cannot, by any of your own performances, lay for yourselves a foundation of hope; but you can set down your sinking feet on that firm foundation which has been laid in the sufferings of Jesus. Now we do not ask you to do those things which you cannot do. God does not ask or wish you to do these. But we do ask you, and urge you, to do with all diligence what you can do. And we solemnly promise you, that, if you will do what you can-if you will begin now, and do what you can— you shall be saved. Yes, I repeat it, my unconverted hearers, begin now in earnest, and do what you can; and my soul in your soul's stead, if you are not saved.
But shall I tell you, in conclusion, all my fears? My fear is that you will not do what you can. My fear is that you will go away and soon forget all you have heard. If you have had serious impressions, I fear you will lose them. If you have formed good resolutions, I fear you will break them. If your sinful slumbers have been a little disturbed, I fear they will soon return upon you, and that nothing effectual will be done. Meanwhile, time is rolling on--the thread of life is running off-the day of probation wasting-and the day of decision coming on; and soon it will be too late to repent! Then you will awake, indeed, but it will be to unavailing sorrows. You will awake--but it will be only to mourn forever" The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved." O, be entreated now to awake in earnest to this great subject. Begin now to do what you can. We do not ask you to do more. Begin now to repent of sin, and turn to God, and humbly seek his grace; and God will assuredly have mercy, and your souls shall live. Amen.
THE SINNER ARRAIGNED AND CONVICTED.
DANIEL V. 27. Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting.
JOB observes, that "the triumphing of the wicked is short." This remark was signally verified in the narrative connected with the text. Belshazzar, the monarch of Chaldea, was indulging in sinful and intemperate merriment, accompanied with profane contempt of the God of Israel. While employing the vessels, which he had plundered from Jehovah's temple, in profane appropriation to the honor of his idols and the sensuality of his guests, a mysterious hand appeared inscribing on the wall of his palace the ominous sentence which was translated by Daniel, and a part of whose import is given in our text. This portion of the inscription described his character, and another his doom: and "in that night," says the sacred historian, "was king Belshazzar slain." "Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting."
But, my hearers, there are balances in which we must all be weighed ; and if, when the scales are suspended and that scrutiny takes place, Tekel, as in the case of the impious monarch, should be inscribed on all our pretensions and stamped on all the claims we advance, how sad, how sorrowful beyond conception must our condition be. "God," we are assured, "has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness ;" and as through that ordeal each one of us must pass, it is the dictate of wisdom to ascertain, if practicable, by anticipation, what our situation is likely to be, when "time" to us "shall be no longer." The great inquiry then, arising from the text, in application to ourselves, and to others for whom we feel concern, or in whom we take interest, is, on what individuals, or classes of individuals, is this sentence likely to be pronounced, and this censure liable to fall "in
VOL. XI. No. 3.
the day of our Lord's appearing." Who will then be "found wanting?" and "who shall be able to stand?" It cannot admit of question, that radically defective in character will be found all the openly immoral, whether their immorality be confined to the breast of one, or extend to the violation of more, or of all the commands of the decalogue. All who live and die in the commission of gross and flagrant sin, unrepented of and unforsaken, must fall under condemnation. "Be not deceived," says one who was authorized to decide on this subject, "neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor drunkards, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor extortioners, shall have any inheritance in the kingdom of God." For "because of such things as these, cometh the wrath of God on the children of disobedience." But it can hardly be necessary to say much, to prove that in all the openly vicious there is a radical failure of the character necessary for heaven. This point very few will have the hardihood to contest.
But, as a general remark, which we shall establish and corroborate by several particular details, it must be asserted, that all unrenewed, unregenerate persons-who have not "put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him”—all who have not, in the language of the Bible," passed from death unto life"-are, by him who is to decide the fates of men, pronounced unfit for the abodes of heavenly bliss.
1. Let us place in the balances the mere moralist, and bring his pretensions to the test. Some consider the whole of religion as consisting, the whole of "the duty which God requires of man" as contained in the performances and virtues, which are ordinarily comprehended under the common phrase, morality; whether the term embraces only those attributes of human character which consist in giving to every one his equitable due, or extends to those exercises of benevolence and charity, which form the coustituents of distinguished philanthrophy; whether, simply, the righteous man "for whom," as Paul expresses it, "one will scarcely die," or "the good man, for whom some would dare to die." All pretensions beyond these are regarded by the class to whom we now allude, as hypocritical, ostentatious, unnecessary or fanatical. But let us weigh, in the balances of the sanctuary, the claims of the moralist in the narrower or broader signification of the term. To what will these claims amount? It will be seen, on examination, that these matters, which are considered as the whole, or at least as the principal part of duty, are regarded in but a secondary and subordinate light, by him who holds in his hands the scales of divine justice, and truly estimates the weight and worth of whatever is placed in them. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart," he asserts to be "the first and great commandment." To that of " loving our neighbor as
ourselves," he assigns only a secondary place, calling it "the second" commandment, and observing concerning it, that it is "like unto the first." What then, if weighed in the balances, is to become of the man, who lays it down as a principle, and acts upon it as the maxim of his life, that there is no religion and no divine requirement, beyond feeling and performing justice and mercy to our fellow men? When the law of God is thrown into one scale, and such a man deposited in the other, must not Tekel be inscribed on all his pretensions, on all his attainments, on all his expectations?
So thought and so felt some of the most eminent, exemplary personages that have ever lived. By whom has the character of Isaiah ever been impeached? Yet, he says of himself, " I am a man of unclean lips." Who has ever discovered a flaw in the character of Daniel, as delineated on the sacred page? Yet, Daniel said, including himself among his people, and involving himself in one common charge with them, "O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, because we have sinned against thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him." How more than ordinarily brilliant shines the character of the patriarch who dwelt in Uz. Look at the attributes and actions of Job. He "was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, a father to the poor. He brake the jaws of the wicked and plucked the spoil out of their teeth. When the ear heard him, it blessed him, when the eye saw him, it gave witness to him." Why? "Because he delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless that had none to help him: the blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon him, and he caused the widow's heart to leap for joy." He possessed, then, in an eminent measure, an unparalleled degree, that "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father," which, according to the apostle James, consisted, as one of its primary and essential ingredients, in "visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction." Surely, such a man must possess spiritual weight. Let us then place him in the balances: but he has seated himself there of his own accord, and to what discovery is he brought? To this: "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes:" which is perfectly tantamount to the confession, "I am weighed in the balances and am found wanting." And there he sat ashamed, confounded, and alarmed, till another object appeared in sight. That relieves and even transports him, and he exclaims, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." Weigh him after this, and he is no longer "found wanting;" he is complete in Christ,” and can scan and survey the holy law of God in all the strictness of its requisitions, and the severity of its sanctions. For his Redeemer is in the scales with him, that Redeemer who "magnified the law and