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3. Consider the consequences as to your own state and feelings through life, in the prospect of death, and through your immortal existence, which the word of God represents as naturally and necessarily attendant upon conversion on the one hand, or impenitence and unbelief, on the other. The contrast between these two classes of consequences is immense, awful and beyond the power of description. You will scarcely attempt to deny that the question, Am I converted or unconverted? surpasses every other that can engage your attention; that is to say, it is infinitely more important than any question relating to your temporal condition in this life. For, whether you are rich or poor, still you must die; and then it will be of no moment whether you have fed upon delicacies, or obtained your bread, and that a scanty portion, by the sweat of your brow; whether you have lived to old age, or been cut off in youth; and to spend a few more years in a mortal body, is, after all, not so great a matter as either to make you very anxious for its enjoyment, or very sad if it should be denied. Whether you are honoured, admired and remembered among mortal men like yourself, or whether you live unknown and die unnoticed and neglected, is comparatively a trifling matter. And whether your life, be it long or short, is passed in the possession of unbroken health, or in sickness, debility and dependence, is, comparatively, a trivial matter. Or whether you have seen and tasted all the good there is for the sons of inen in this life, or have been born to trouble and to toil, is also of little importance But whether at death you shall be lost forever, or be forever saved and made happy, is a matter of infinite concern. You must admit that it is so. All is trifting in comparison with it. The very thought of the solemn issue awaiting your death, must inevitably have an influence upon your pre sent feelings. Think, I beseech you, of the in finite difference in the hour of death, between the two states of faith and unbelief; the two emotions
heaven and hell! Think, then, of the vast, the as. tounding contrast between the peaceful departure of a real Christian, a truly converted person, having in his soul the hope of glory, and saying, as many have done, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation ;'* * Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly ;'? “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ;" and the guilty recollections of an impenitent and unconverted sinner, who has all his life long served Satan and the world, and given no attention to the interests of his soul, and of that world to which he goes. Think of him, as encompassed on all sides with fear; bowed down by the insupportable burden of guilt; a conscience but a canker, or worse-a burning brand within the soul, set on fire by the anticipation of hell torments ; dreading to depart, yet feeling that he must depart in a few moments more to the bar of Divine justice, and thence to the abyss of unutter. able torments. This appalling contrast may readily be illustrated by a few well-known facts, which will show that I have not presented an imaginary picture, but what has been frequently, and is still constantly, realized.
Hobbes, the infidel philosopher, referring to his death, and anticipating it as near, said he “ should be glad then to find a hole at which to creep out
• Luke ii. 29, 30. Rev. xxii. 20. Phil. i. 23.
of the world.” And when he drew near to the moment, he confessed that he was “about to take a leap in the dark.” The Hon. F. Newport, who had received a religious education, but turned infidel, said in his last sickness, looking at the fire in his chamber, “O that I was to lie and broil upon that fire for a hundred thousand years, to purchase the favour of God, and be reconciled to him again! But it is a fruitless, vain wish, Millions of millions of years will bring me no nearer the end of my tortures than one poor hour. O eternity ! eternity! Who can properly paraphrase upon the words for ever and ever?" Vol. taire said to Dr. Tronchin, “ I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months' life.” The doctor said, “Sir, you cannot live six weeks." Voltaire replied, " Then I shall go to hell, and you will go with me;" and soon after expired. Would any one say, Let me die the death of Vol. taire, of Newport, or of Hobbes ? Take an instance or two of dying Christians. Dr. Leland, departing from life, said, “I give my dying testimony to the truth of Christianity. The promises of the gospel are my support and consolation. They alone yield me satisfaction in a dying hour. I am not afraid to die. The gospel of Christ has raised me above the fear of death; for I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Mr. Walker, of Truro, said, “I have been upon the wings of the cherubim! Heaven has, in a manner, been opened to me! I shall soon be there !" To another friend, soon after, he said, “O my friend, had I strength to speak, I could tell you such news as would rejoice your very soul! I have had such views of heaven! But I am not able to say more.” “O my friends," said Mr. Janeway, “stand and wondei ; come, look upon a dying man, and wonder! Was there ever greater kindness? Was there ever more sensible manifestations of rich grace ? O, why me, Lord ? why me? Sure this is akin to heaven. If this be dying, dying is sweet. Let no Christian ever be afraid of dying! O, death is sweet to me! This bed is soft. Christ's arms, his smiles and visits, sure they would turn hell into heaven ! O that you did but see and feel what I do! Come and behold a dying man, more cheerful than ever you saw any healthful man in the midst of his sweetest enjoyments. O sirs, worldly pleasures are pitiful, poor, sorry things, compared with one glimpse of His glory which shines so strongly into my soul. O! why should any of you be so sad, when I am so glad ? This, this is the hour that I have waited for!” Again, some hours after, he said, “Methinks I stand, as it were, one foot in heaven, and the other on earth. Methinks I hear the melody of heaven, and by faith I see the angels waiting to carry my soul to the bosom of Jesus: and I shall be forever with the Lord in glory. And who can choose but rejoice in all this?” In such strains he continued, till, at length, full of faith and joy, he cried aloud, “Amen! amen!" and soon after expired. A pious youth, dying in extreme bodily anguish, once said to the writer of these pages, “I would not exchange my place with a prince."'*
These contrasted cases, it is admitted, are strong ones, and you may never sink to the misery of the
* See this contrast further illustrated in “The ANCHOR,” and “ The TREE AND ITS FRUITS,” both published by the American Sunday-School Union.
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one class, nor rise to the exultation and seraphic joy of the other. Yet, if we admit that none of these strong characteristics may ever attach to you, still the reality, the main substance will be yours, because your state after death will be happy or miserable forever, according as you are, or are not, a converted person. Think of this: either angels will wait for your departing spirit, to convey it to the bosom of Jesus, where it will enjoy fulness of pleasure for evermore; or devils, with malign satisfaction, will watch for the fatal moment of its expulsion from the frail body, to seize upon it as their prey, to chase or drag it down to the regions of eternal despair. There is a hell, and there is a heaven. Of this the Bible assures us. The one is for the unconverted and unbelieving, the other for those who have submitted to the divine mandate, “ Be converted."* The question, then, Shall I be lost, or shall I be saved ? is clearly shown to be of infinite importance to each reader; and the point upon which it turns is this, Am I, or am I not, converted ?
THE STATE OF THE UNCONVERTED.
If I may suppose that you are at the present moment unconverted, and if you candidly admit it yourself, then there are but two questions which have to be answered before we proceed with the great subject of this little treatise.
*Acts iii. 19.