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that they may come to God in prayer, and plead the efficacy of that blood which was shed for the remission of sins. Think of this, then: the price of true wisdom is placed in your hands; if you use it now, you will obtain the gift ; if you neglect it, you do virtually refuse it, or unreasonably continue in a state of hostility against God, which is itself exceedingly sinful, and, if persisted in, must draw upon you a sentence of exclusion from his favour forever. What a culpable delay would he be guilty of, who, while labouring under disease, with a physician standing before him and offering a remedy known to be effectual, should show reluctance, and, from some trifling excuse, defer the use of the means prescribed ! I am well aware, that many sinners imagine they may safely defer this important step; and that they often delude themselves with the fancy, that there will come a more favourable opportunity, or some more effectual means; and thus they cheat themselves out of the proper use of those they now possess, under the false notion, that they are to wait for something further, or to expect a more favourable conjuncture. But the present is, in fact, the only time allowed ; and those who neglect it may find that the golden opportunity has been lost, lost for
“ Now is the accepted time.' If this is the acceptable time, what more could be desired by any one? It is the divine authority which declares this; and it is equally certain, that this is said of no other period. He, therefore, who rejects this, or who still pleads for delay, loses the only time to which God himself has attached this important epithet, accepted, which surely means that you may, and indeed shall, be accept
* 2 Cor. vi. 2.
ed. Would any man wish for any
other? Could he fix upon a period which should afford a brighter hope? Or what, beyond such a pledge of divine acceptance, could be desired ? version includes acceptance with God, as well as a change of your mind, and both these must concur at some time, if you are ever saved; if, further, you cannot command God's favourable acceptance
you, but must receive it as an act of his free grace; then, his accepted time should be yours-gratefully, fervently embraced, lest that which you, may deem a time more acceptable to yourself, should prove not to be so with Him. Your time, therefore, should be His. The very fact, that His acceptance of you
grace, ought to enforce this upon you. For he who needs an act of grace, and at the same time desires it, must receive it when the conceding party offers to grant it, it may pass away and never return. This, then, is just the situation of every unconverted man.
He cannot become converted without the grace of God; that grace announces the present to be the favourable time, pledges itself to the bestowment of it now, if there be a true faith, but makes no reserve for a better season, or for any other—no pledge for a future day. The sin ner, therefore, who knows his true situation, and feels the risk he would run by delay, will surely not think of waiting for a more convenient season, seeing this is the most favourable, the only time sure to him, and the only one to which the high and sovereign Being, on whom he absolutely depends for his salvation, has annexed the term " accepted,” saying, “To-Day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart."* TO-DAY Jesus
. Heb. iv. 7.
18 set before you as both an able and a willing Saviour. TO-DAY he
Come unto me:" Day he opens his arms for your reception: ToDAY he admits you to the throne of grace: but remember, if it should appear to you not an accepted time, not yet convenient, or not yet desirable to forsake your sin and flee to the Saviour you have, literally, no promise whatever of an other opportunity, no authority to attach the term accepted to any future time.
2. But let me distinctly press upon you the consideration, that God expressly calls upon you to be converted now. He does not say, Take the subject into consideration, and when you have seen the propriety of it, then obey. But at once, and on the spot, and in the same moment in which He announces the Creator's will, He requires the compliance of the guilty creature ; and, by allowing no space for delay or dispute, He forbids you to hesitate even for an hour, but obliges you to an immediate compliance. And do not think this either strange or hard. For herein God does but assert his proper prerogative, and place you in your proper situation, as a rebel against his authority, and a guilty offender, dependent altogether upon his free mercy for salvation. In no other way, certainly, could an offended God treat with rebellious creatures. Submission, instant submission to his authority, and instant reliance upon his free and sovereign mercy in Christ Jesus, is the only method which it beconies him to adopt. This is conversion; this is immediate conversion; this is what we intend by your conversion taking place now. Here, then, we say, is a reason--a reason paramount to all others—a reason from which you cannot appeal, and the force of which,
it is hoped, you both admit and feel, why you should at once be converted to God.
66 God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. “ Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.”+
“ Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."! Our
“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him."'S
These views might be further confirmed, by showing how God has expressed his anger against those who have refused and delayed, and by re ferring to those Scriptures which express his displeasure generally against all who do so. As in the book of Proverbs, he says, “ Because I have called, and ye refused,”ll &c. The parable of the ten virgins, in the 25th chapter of Matthew, shows what shall be the treatment of those who neglect the accepted time. The shutting of the door against the foolish virgins teaches us, that delayers may apply too late, and that if they refuse God's appointed time, he may, in anger, swear, They shall not enter into my rest.”'I
3. It is proper here distinctly to remind you, that you
do not know that you shall enjoy any other time besides the present. You cannot look forward and say, I shall live till next year, or till I find more leisure, or till I have settled affairs that now engross my time and attention. You cannot say, I shall live till to-morrow, and will then give my best attention to my soul's affairs. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth
Even while you think to enjoy some future period, the fatal sentence may have passed • Acts xvii. 30. † Job xxii. 21. Isa. lv. 6. § Matt. v. 25.
| Prov. i. 24. 1 Heb. iij. 11. ** James iv, 14.
the lips of your patient and long-suffering Lord, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground ?"* Do you not constantly hear of sickness and death invading persons at all ages and under all circumstances ? Even those that felt most secure, and seemed, according to human judgment, most likely to live, have been cut off in a moment, or so severely affected by disease as to be incapable of attending to this most important concern. And I may say, not only have these things been, but they are constantly occurring around you on every hand; so that no man can say, “ I am safe; I have made a covenant with death.” God grants you the present time for the discharge of this imperative duty, the first, the highest, and the most essential, an immediate turning of your heart from the love and practice of sin, a full and unaffected confession of guilt, and the earnest entreaty of the divine forgiveness through the blood of the great atoning Sacrifice.
4. Your conversion ought not to be delayed longer, because you may effectually and forever exclude yourself from that grace which is now offered. This may take place in two ways, from either of which the utmost damage may result to your immortal soul. (1.) By the hardening effect of that state of impenitence in which I suppose you to continue, and to continue by a direct purpose
mind. You resolve not yet to seek, not yet to receive the grace of God for your con
The very effect of that resolve upon your mind and heart, is to produce an increased degree of insensibility to your sin and danger, a greater degree of hardihood against God, and a more reckless spirit in reference to the threatened
* Luke xiii. 7.