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to the dust, burning up the earth on which we tread, and rolling away the blue firmament which covers it. Ah! how soon shall we be looking back from the remote periods of eternity, through the long lapse of ages, to the few moments we passed in this rebellious world, in this infancy of our being. Oh! man, man, are you a thinking, rational, immortal being? And can you be regardless of such awful truths. Can you cling to this world, and chain your soul to earth, and clog it with all the vanities of time, when it struggles to be free from such trammels, and to soar to its native skies?
Time rolls on! centuries glide away. Ere long we shall look back from our remote position in the eternal world, as the associates of Noah now look back to the scenes they witnessed while on earth. Think of these spirits now in prison; think what must be their reflections in view of the fact that they have bartered eternal joy for the sins of a moment on earth. Oh! how must remorse prey upon them as they at this moment lift up their voices in woe, exclaiming, “the harvest is passed, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
And is it so ? Have thousands of years already elapsed, while they still continue the victims of sin? So says unerring truth. They wearied out the long suffering of God, and grieved away his Spirit. And shall eternity still roll on while they remain in their abode of sorrow? Nothing can be more sure. Their own hand has planted thorns in the pillow upon which they will forever in vain seek repose.
And is this our danger? Are we exposed to so fearful a doom? Verily,” saith the Scripture to us, “unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Yes, very soon the graves, in which our bodies have mouldered to the dust, will disappear under the influence of time. Centuries will pass away, and no one shall know our names; not a sign shall remain of our ever having existed. The world shall be busy; the hum of business and the notes of pleasure shall be heard. The sun shall shine, the rain shall fall, the storm shall rage, but we shall be far, far away, the veteran souls of many centuries. Oh! what is life, when we look forward to explore those regions where we must for ever dwell? What are earth's joys, when we think of heaven's undying glory? What are earth's trials, when we think of banishment eternal from the presence of God? But heaven's gates are now open wide. Heaven's smiling fields now invite our steps. The angels' cordial welcome now bids us enter. The Father pleads; the Saviour invites; the Spirit strives. Oh! let us all hear, and accept, and live.
WHERE ARE THEY?
The heart that conceived the following affecting thoughts, has long ceased its throbbing of solicitude for souls, and the hand that penned them is stiff and motionless, but truth never dies.
Perhaps we scarcely step from our doors without treading on dust that was once animated with life. We are constantly walk. ing up and down in the midst of graves, and moving over skulls which once laid schemes of ambition and gain. Our “fathers, where are they? and the prophets,” did “they live forever?" Where are now the people who first settled this town?
Where are they who filled the streets and composed the congregation and church before we were born? They are swept away, and all that remains of them this side of eternity now sleeps in the womb of yonder consecrated ground.
Where are now the ancient empires of Assyria, and Babylon, and Persia, and Greece, and Rome?
Where are the emperors, statesmen, philosophers, and bards of antiquity? Where is now the immense army of Xerxes, which seemed to darken Asia, and to sink with its weight the land of Greece? Where are the exhaustless hordes of barbarians which issued from the North to overwhelm the Roman empire? Where can you find those stupendous monuments of human art, the glorious cities of Nineveh, Babylon, Palmyra, and Memphis? Where is now the dust which was attached to the souls that lived before the flood? Where are now the many millions who have filled the world with noise and contention, with fame and folly, for a hundred generations? Kingdom has trodden on the heel of kingdom, and nation has followed nation down to the land of forgetfulness. Their dust has long since returned to the common mass, and has perhaps lived and died scores of times. That which sat upon the throne has since sat upon the dunghill, and that which sat upon the dunghill has since sat upon the throne. Here is their dust, but where is their im. mortal part? Where are the many thousands of millions of souls that in different periods of time have escaped from dying beds, or from the field of battle? They have all stood before their righteous Judge, and received their unalterable doom. Many of them have been transported with the joys of Paradise for four and five thousand years, and have calmly looked down, and have seen kingdom after kingdom moulder to decay, while they stood secure and unchanged in immortal life.
Many of them have been in hell for more than fifty hundred years, crying day and night for a drop of water to cool their tongue; but in fifty centuries one drop of water they have never obtained, and never will through the endless ages of eternity. They have abandoned all hope of ever seeing good again. There is but one point to which they look forward, and that is the day of judgment, which they anticipate with indescribable horror, as though it was the beginning of their torment; the point of time when their scattered dust will be collected and raised when they must stand, soul and body, before the judgment seat of an almighty enemy.
It is not only “appointed unto men once to die,” but the time of their death is altogether uncertain. Death may
look in at your windows this night. The arrows of death may strike you at any time, and without a moment's warning. You hang over the grave by a thread on which the flame has seized, and you may look every moment to fall, to rise not again “till the heavens be no more." “On what a slender thread hang everlasting things.” Could the veil be drawn from eternity, and discover to your astonished eyes the infinitely glorious or dreadful consequences depending on the present life; could then the veil be drawn from the many agents which are constantly striving within you, to keep in order your complicated machine, and discover to you the many critical junctures which are daily occurring, which, without making you sensible of it, bring you within a hair's breadth of death ; could the veil be also drawn from the course of nature around you, and disclose the dangers among which you walk by day and sleep by night; could you thus have a view of your hourly exposures, and of the eternal interests at stake, you would start from your dream like a man awoke in a burning house, and flee for your life-ah! whither? whither but to the arms of Christ? Were a man literally suspended over the eternal pit, in full view of it, only by a brittle thread, what horrors would seize him. Yet many hang over hell by as slender a thread, and are as easy as though no danger threatened. Unbelief keeps them secure at present, but when they once fall, they can disbelieve no more.
MAKE HASTE. Delays are dangerous. When a house is on fire, “Make haste, and fly,” is the cry given to the inmates. When a person is taken suddenly ill, Make haste for the physician, is the cry. When overtaken by a storm, Make haste to a place of refuge, is the cry. When pursued by robbers, Make haste, is again the cry. But there are dangers far more awful than all these new described, and from which you are to make haste. The storm of God's wrath is hanging over every unconverted sinner. Make haste, and seek refuge in Jesus, who is an hiding-place from the storm, and covert from the tempest. Justice demands, “Pay me what thou owest.” Make haste to Jesus, as your only surety; who, by his sufferings and death, has paid the debt. Sinners are diseased; sin is the disease, and thousands and tens of thousands are passing uncured into eternal woe. Make haste to the balm in Gilead, and the physician who is there. You are spending your money for that which is not bread, and perishing for lack of knowledge. Make haste to Him who came to earth to be bread to our souls, and has said, “I am the bread of life.” Sinners are condemned; for he that believeth not, is condemned already! Make haste, and receive pardon; for Jesus has bought it by the price of his blood, and proclaims pardon to the guilty. “Come now, and let us reason together,” &c. (Isaiah i. 18.)
Make haste, sinner, for death is pursuing you; and if he overtake you without being pardoned, misery, eternal misery, will be your portion. What thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might: and what the angel said to Lot, so God says to you: “Escape for thy life.” Come out from among them, and be ye separate. Be not conformed to the world. Hear the Saviour declaring for your encouragement; “ Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”
Often have we seen persons agitated and almost breathless, as they walked to the wharf and found the plank removed, the ropes cast off, and the steamer moving off and leaving them behind, sadly disappointed, because they were a moment too late. No matter how urgent their business, or how ruinous the consequences, or how bitter the disappointment, it must be endured. Poor man! how much he suffers because he was a moment too late. In such a case the injury may be retrieved. But there is a departure, when, if man is a moment too late, the loss is fatal. The ark of safety touches these mortal shores and lingers for a while, and all who will may take passage in it for the heavenly city. The hour of departure is fixed, though unknown to men. but when that hour comes, there will be no delay for him who is behind the time. No prayers nor tears will avail to secure a passage after the plank is removed and the ropes cast off. Let all who will go, hasten on board without delay. The following may shew the necessity of promptness in the concerns of the soul:
Last evening I went down to a steamboat, to see a gentleman who had promised to carry a letter to a friend for me, and just got there in time to hand it to him, as the captain cried out, “let go!" and off went the boat. I am glad I was not too late, thought I, when a gentleman ran past me, crying out, "hold on! hold on!"but the captain shook his head, and cried, “it is too late.” Then the poor man looked very sad, bit his lip, and stamped his feet, but all would do no good, it was “too late.” Perhaps he had friends on board, perhaps valuable baggage; perhaps he wished to go in that boat, that he might see some sick friend before he died; but, alas! he was too late. Ah, how often is that the case. It is an old saying, that "time and tide wait for no man."
A young woman, who was very sick, sent for a minister to visit her. While he was pointing to Christ, and telling her how willing the Saviour was that sinners should come to Him, she burst into tears, and said, “O! that I had repented when the Spirit of God was striving with me, but now I am undone!" And at another time, just before she died, she said, “ When I was in health, I delayed repentance from time to time. O that I had my time to live over again! O that I had obeyed the gospel! But now I must suffer in hell for ever. I cannot bear it, I cannot bear it!”