April 24 PDF Print E-mail
"But now they are hid from thine eyes." — Luke 19:42.

When Pharaoh saw there was respite, he hardened his heart. Solomon tells us, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil." But God's keeping silence is not approbation. His long-suffering is not even connivance. He can be merciful, without allowing us to trifle, and insult him for ever. His patience has its rules and its bounds. And Jerusalem knew this.

Much has been said on what is termed a day of grace, and much which we neither admire or believe. We are not authorised to say any one is beyond hope, while he is yet in life. Manasseh would have seemed very likely to be such a desperate character, but he obtained mercy.

"And while the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return."

If we cannot view any of our fellow-creatures as beyond the possibility of salvation, so we have no rule by which we can absolutely determine against ourselves. Yet there are several things of fearful import, to which we do well to attend.

First, the language of the Word of God is fearful. "Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone." "Israel would none of me; so I gave them up to their own hearts' lust." "In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee." "If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." "Because I have called, and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." "Behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation." We offer no commentary on these passages, but, surely, their language is fearful.

Secondly, we know that final impenitency is irrecoverably hopeless; and with life all our opportunities end, and this is fearful. It would not be kindness, but cruelty, to flatter men with a contrary expectation. Search the Scripture, and you will always find a difference between the present and the future. One is a state of trial, the other of decision. The one is sowing, the other reaping; and whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Is not this sufficient to induce us to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near?

Thirdly, this life, upon which every thing depends, is very brief: this is fearful. Look at the images of Scripture: a flower of the field; a flood; a watch in the night; a dream; a vapour. Consider the deaths that come under your own observation. Observe the frailty of your frame. Remember the numberless diseases and accidents to which you are exposed. Think of your pulse, where the question is asked sixty times every minute, whether you shall live or die and then you may well exclaim:

"Great God! on what a slender thread
Hang everlasting things!
The eternal state of all the dead
Upon life's feeble strings!"

Fourthly, our continuance here is as uncertain as it is short; this is fearful. "I have not had," said a good man, "a to-morrow for years." It would be well if we had not. Indeed, we have not in reality, whatever we may have in imagination. "Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."

Fifthly, before this short and uncertain period terminates, many opportunities and advantages may elapse, to return no more; this is fearful. Many convictions may die away, no more to be renewed again unto repentance. We may be deprived of reason; and religion can only operate through the medium of thought. Old age helps on insensibility; and before we are aware, though unpardoned and unrenewed, we may become incapable of a moral change. The Gospel may be removed from us. We may be placed where it is not in our power to attend it. We may become deaf, or blind. Sickness may confine us to a room of pain, or a bed of languishing. The influences necessary to render the means of grace effectual may be withholden. Though Paul plants, and Apollos waters, God alone gives the increase; and though we can do nothing to deserve his grace, we may provoke his anger; and he may judicially give us up to a reprobate mind. The heart is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and no less so by familiarity with divine things. And is not this the case with many? Once their consciences smote them. They dropped a tear upon their Bible. When walking alone, among the works of God, they prayed, "Lord, I am thine; save me." But Felix no more trembles. And the Gadarenes have besought the healer of their neighbours, and the reprover of their sin, to depart out of their coasts.

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

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