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and I shall not: I am not a Christian, and I do not expect to be one; I have no reason to think that my feelings or habits are to be changed by being cherished; I shall probably without an immediate endeavour to amendshall probably be, ten or twenty years hence, only more decidedly and habitually what I am now; I shall almost certainly die as I am now living." This, my friends, is the plain and sober truth; and if the conscience could awake to its full and its fearful import, it would not be easily lulled again into the sleep of death. ...Withal, and to complete the danger of delay, the work of evil habits is imperceptible and speedy. There is blindness in the way, and it is ever terminated by a fearful precipice. .. .-. The progress of gross vice, and its end, are an illustration of the progress of all sin. The man who is plunging into vicious habits will admit to you, perhaps, that the consequences, if he goes on, are tremendous. Consequences ? Let them be tremendous. What is that to him? What has he to do with consequences ? He does not mean to reach them. He has no intention of proceeding so far. A little indulgence can do him no harm, and it is a very different thing is it nota very different thing from being grossly sottish and vile. That he is determined he never will be. He cannot resolve to leave off just now, and he cannot see that it is at all necessary. He surely has the power of free choice, and he can stop when he pleases. Perhaps he is resolved that he will do so, after he has proceeded to a certain extent. He is not so blind as his friends think he is, and as some good people and some worthy preachers would represent. He knows sirat you can his He claims one distinction 5 a mg te vicios. He is not a fool. He is
Tims the res: and while he reasons, habit reagens: and rå overtakes him before he is 22. His registration is suddenly gone; disease has
credit suced the foundations of his firmness and strengt: ad death surprises him with its ghastly wige before be is aware that he is declining toes the path of health, and enjoyment, and life. - He at being often reprored hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy?
Besides, if the plea of delay were not thus hazard. ous; if it did not appear as if invented on purpose to ensure the ruin of its victim; if it were ever so promising; if the work of evil habits were not so imperceptible and speedy; still there is the danger of a total uncertainty about the continuance of lite. If you should appoint a time when you are to commence that better life of piety and prayer of which you are thinking, that time may be too late. The expected day will come, indeed; but it may shine upon your grave. For what is your life? It is a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. I have seen it rise; the beam of morning kindled it; but the beam that kindled, dissolved and dissipated it for ever! Such is life. It appeareth for a little time; and the only certainty about the length of its actual continuance is, that it is totally uncertain.
To-morrow's sun may melt it away. A breath of wind may scatter it. The touch of death may at any moment dissolve it. At any moment, this phantom life may
disappear, and eternity break in upon the delusive dream of promised amendment.
And is this brief and hasty hour of our being the season for delay? Do we employ ourselves in delays when we have hardly time to act? Do the already frail and dying delay their preparation for sickness and death? If some thousands of years were allotted to us on earth there might be a show of reason-and yet if what we have said be true, only a show of reason-in deferring. But what shall we think of it when the time is all too short for resolution and for action?
And yet, perhaps, with some of us, the period of life that is past has been up to this time a period of delay. We have, many of us, not been more religious and devout, more correct and virtuous, more humble, kind and forbearing, more faithful and blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, not because we never intend to be so, but because we are delaying to be so. We are still saying to conscience, and to the command of God, and to all the kind and all the awful messages of Providence, “ go thy way for this time.”
When shall this inexpressible—I had almost said, this insufferable--folly of indecision be given up? When will men cease to seal their destruction under the promise of escaping it? There are but two states of mind on this subject that can for an instant stand the test of reason--either to resolve never to lead a life of piety and virtue, or to begin that life this very day. Any other course is such manifest infatuation as cannot in reason be entertained for a moment. And dreadful as the alternative to the right choice is, I would press every mind to it, I would throw every
thing upon that cast, rather than leave the issue to that fatal indecision which will not even lift its hand to choose. I adjure you, tell us not any longer of a more convenient season. I put this matter to your reason. I will use no tender exhortation, no soft entreaty now, though our blessed religion is full of such. I put this matter to stern and solemn reason : and I say-resolve to begin the religious life now,-or take the uttermost hazard of perdition !
ROMANS XIII. 11. And that, knowing the time, that now it is
high time to awake out of sleep.
Sin is here compared to a sleep. It is the sleep of the soul; the sleep not of the senses, for they are often in these circumstances intensely alive and awake to their objects—but the sleep of the soul. It is the insensibility, the lethargy, the death-like stupor of the higher, the moral, the immortal nature. In this sleep of the soul there is the same insensibility to spiritual things as in natural sleep there is to natural things. To the natural sleeper all the objects around him, be they ever so interesting, and splendid, and wonderful; all that would otherwise occupy his hands, or engage his thoughts, or delight his vision; all the voices of active and stirring life around him; all the ministrations of nature; all the magnificence of heaven; to him are no more than if they were blotted out of existence. He sees not, he hears not, he feels nothing, he pursues nothing; he has no desires, nor fears, nor hopes; though the crowded world of objects, and interests, and changes, and operations, is all about him, and heaven,