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or hope he is at such a distance that they may enjoy many days of undisturbed

repose

in this world; while, in fact, he is ever at hand, ready to rush upon them, when the signal from on high is given, and destroy them for ever! Yea, even at the present time, when the trumpet voice of Providence may be loudly heard over the nations, exclaiming, “It is high time to awake out of sleep;"—when “the last enemy” appears on all sides, specially preparing, by means of war, and of dread pestilence, to slay his tens of thousands, what multitudes are there who appear insensible to their awful danger, saying to themselves “Peace, peace,” when, lo! sudden destruction is at hand !

It is written in the published works of one of our greatest poets, “ All men count all men mortal but themselves.” How shall we account for such a saying as this? If it be true, it might almost lead to the conclusion of universal illusion or infidelity. For, there be one truth above another which is attested by an ever increasing amount of evidence, it is, that every man is doomed by an irreversible decree to death—that his very life is a constant death. “Dying,” said God, “ thou shalt die.” From that time death has advanced onwards with the irresistible sweep of a conqueror, sparing neither age, rank, nor character, to the present hour. Every attempt has been made to escape his power, or ward off his approach; but in vain. He has laid siege to every kingdom, encamped against every city, town, or hamlet ; and where he found, so to speak, the door barred against him, he has, according to the expressive language of the prophet,

come up

into the windows,” and accomplished his end. Has he exhibited partiality ? Has he passed the houses of the great ?—the palaces of kings ? Has he had mercy upon little children because of their tender age ?-_or spared young men whose prospects were so bright ? No; all alike have been, and are, the objects of his destructive pursuit. Who, then, can question his near approach to them?

But no man doubts of death in the abstract. It is not in regard to the general fact that there is any scepticism. Where, then, lies the delusion? It is in the practical application of the general truth to our own individual cases. Now, it will be hard to convince any of my readers, who have not already obtained the victory over death and the grave, who are not preparing to meet God, that they do not fully believe in the awful certainty of their own death ; that though they may imagine it, neither their minds nor hearts reflect on the reality of their circumstances. Now, what is the principle which tends to prove this mournful statement ? It is this,—that a man's

THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY 27 RED LION SQUARE, LONDON.

66

man

habitual conduct corresponds to what he believes in his heart. You see this principle constantly exhibited in the ordinary affairs of life. If that which is appreciated by any

whatever it may be- is believed to be in immediate danger, there is, there can be no rest in that man's mind, till steps are taken to save, if possible, the object from destruction, and to secure its safety. On the self-same principle, if men believed in the value of their immortal spirits; and that these precious souls were every instant, on account of their sins, exposed to endless perdition; that at any day, hour, or moment, without the slightest previous warning, they might be summoned into eternity, to meet that God with whom they have to do, and near a sentence which cannot be reversed ; would they,--could they, go on at ease from day to day, unprepared to meet God, never having fled to Christ, never having obtained the victory over death? Impossible.

“Ah! men may with words confess that they shall die,

But with their actions, they their words belie.” The sad proof of this deadly delusion in regard to death in any case, is the fact of the consideration of it and its consequences being systematically postponed to a future day, or drowned in the constant tide of business, pleasures, or worldly

In our high national assemblies, where the opponents of a particular measure desire to get quit of it altogether, they do not directly move its immediate rejection, but that it be considered at a distant future day. Ah! well do they know, that if this proposal be acceded to,—they have got quit of it altogether. And so men dare not impose on their understandings, so as to deny that they are appointed to death, and that the universal sentence may be executed at any moment on themselves ; but they willfully nullify the whole by putting off the consideration of it to a future day. And what is that in effect but living for the present as if there were no death?

But whence this unwillingness to consider our latter end, to count the number of our days ? Before assigning the true cause, let it be observed, that death is not, in the highest sense of the word, a natural event. It is not what is usually termed “ the debt of nature.” For, men were not originally made to die. On the contrary, it is the execution of a judicial sentence on account of sin. Hence the natural shrinking from death, and the eager desire to preserve life. For, all that a man hath will he give for his life. And when to this natural aversion to death is added the deadly influence which the heart frequently has over the understanding—that what men do not wish for,

concerns.

un

they openly or practically deny--who shall wonder that the dread
subject is practically ignored? But why is death so habitually
dreaded, since life is so frequently embittered by adversity or
disappointment? The true answer is this,--the region beyond
death is to such so impenetrably dark and alarming! It is true,
indeed, that they have read of " fields of living green” in the
Paradise above;—of rivers of pleasure at God's right hand ;
of glorious scenes ;-and of a multitude of happy ones who
cease not day nor night to express their unutterable joy. But
they have also read—and their consciences have dreadfully
responded to the inspired announcement--that there is a
“ JUDGMENT TO COME;"—that between this world and heaven
there is a

“ GREAT WHITE THRONE;"--and that on that awful tribunal a Holy God, who--though full of forgiving love through the blood of atonement,-yet cannot receive into heaven an unpardoned sinner. Thus men tremble to look into eternity, and with instinctive dread (save where their consciences have been lulled asleep by deceitful opiates) shrink back from meeting God.

Thus we see at once what it is that gives death his power, and makes his approach so formidable. It is sin pardoned sin. “ The sting of death is sin." The moment, therefore, that the awakened soul is assured that the blood of Christ shed for our sins is by itself an abundant warrant to approach the throne of the Eternal with humble confidence; and the sinner draws near, firmly believing that the gracious Redeemer will in no wise cast him out, but enlist him under his banner, “he is freely forgiven. Death is at once disarmed. Having lost his sting, he becomes entirely harmless; not only not feared, but at length joyfully welcomed ! How blessed, unutterably blessed, therefore, is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered ! For he can boldly defy this ancient conqueror.--challenge him in the name of Christ to do his worst, seeing he has in one hour been deprived of all his malignant power; yea, been compelled to become, through infinite grace, a friend to the true believer, a herald to go before and throw wide open the door by which he is ushered into eternal glory! And when that joyful entrance is made, a voice is heard again from heaven, saying, “ Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

Thus have we seen, that the “victory which overcometh the world,” is faith alone in the eternal love of God to ourselves, manifested in the gift,--the sufferings, and death of His beloved

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Son ;--that no previous good works, no self righteous labour, no personal merit, is required of any one who would be delivered from the fear of death. For vain, vain are the efforts of those who hope to get this triumph, to purchase it, so to speak, by meritorious good feelings, performances, qualifications ! No; it is a free gift, which God would have every true believer enjoy now, even in perfect health. Hence, the beautiful language already quoted—“ Thanks be unto God, who GIVETH US the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The most eminent saints, whose lives have been distinguished above their fellows for holiness and usefulness, had no other · ground for confidence in their approaches to God, or in the prospect of eternity, than the infinite, the unchangeable love of Christ, and that precious Righteousness which he finished for us when he expired on Calvary. For whatever be the degrees of holiness or usefulness amongst the people of God on earth, they must all enter within the celestial gates on one perfect footing of equality ; even as having been all plucked like brands out of the fire, as having been all saved by the unmerited sovereign grace

of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles, martyrs, and reformers, with all their gifts, attainments, and holiness, had nothing more to plead for admission to glory, on the ground of personal merit, than the babe which was removed to heaven soon after its birth, -or the dying malefactor who exclaimed, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom !” One and all of the saved in heaven will unite through eternity in one anthem of praise—“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” Thus, though it is perfectly true, and never to be forgotten, that this faith in Jesus Christ, where it truly exists, worketh by love, and ever produceth fruits of righteousness, through the power of the Holy Spirit—as an offering of gratitude for being delivered from the wrath to come ; and while it is written above the portals of heaven, never to be effaced, “ Without holiness no man shall see the Lord;” nevertheless, the holiness of the believer forms no part of the foundation on which we must rest for eternity; and must never, in whole or in part, be looked to, as the ground of our acceptance in the prospect of meeting God. For the same blood and righteousness, which enables the trembling sinner to arise and come to his forgiving God, is quite enough, when truly seen and realized, to banish every fear, and strengthen the believer to look forward to eternity with most exalting anticipations. And when a passing cloud of unbelief has for a moment darkened his mind, or a temporary veil of sin peen unhappily suffered to interpose between him and the enjoyment of peace even then he has no right to remember his previous holiness to re-assure his mind, but must return as a worthless sinner to the only foundation -Jesus Christ and Him crucified-exclaiming :

“ Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to thy cross I cling ;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace.

Poul, I to thy fountain fly,

Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
When I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eye-lids close in death ;
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne;

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

Let me hide myself in thve." Have you,

then, dear reader, enlisted under the banner of the Redeemer ? If so- -you have the dying soldier's victory; and while rejoicing in ihe prospect of entering the world of spirits, are humbly resting on the merits of your mighty Captain. But if you are not a true soldier of Christ, how dreadful to meet the last enemy

! But meet him we must. Ile is ever at hand; and nothing prevents his dread stroke at any moment, but the long-suffering goodness of God, who waits to be gracious. Whatever then tempts you to delay coming to the Saviour is a fearful delusion. For now is the accepted time. No preparation is demanded, but a simple surrender of will to the authority of Christ-a consciousness of guilt-and a firm reliance on his love his blood-his promises.

E. C.

J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND

PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: ANT W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBCRGH.

London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.

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