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innumerable blessings, grants them precious privileges, sets before them the strongest inducements to repent, strives with them by his Spirit, and with paternal tenderness says to them, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as Zebiom? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Or as their Saviour he compassionates them, as when he beheld the city and wept over it, and exclaimed, “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem I thou that killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” Let the impenitent be assured, that the continuance of their season of probation, their privileges, the invitations of the gospel, and all the expressions f the Divine goodness and mercy which they receive, are to be ascribed to the long-suffering of God. But let them beware lest they abuse it to their remediless injury. It may not, it will not, if they continue practically to despise it, prove their salvation ; because the apostle says, " What if God, willing to show his wrath and to make his pow. er known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.” Fearful it is to despise the riches of God's goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering.
3. Since this life is a season of probation for eternity, every person is continually rendering himself either a vessel of mercy or a vessel of wrath. The faithful and devoted christian derives benefit from the means of grace. By divine sanctification through the truth and ordinances of the gospel, he is changed into the image of Christ. When he passes through scenes of affliction and conflict, his graces are improved. He has occasion to glory in tribulation ; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience, and experience hope and hope maketh not ashamed ; because the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him. By his work of faith and labor of love ; by his effectual and fervent prayers ; bythis persevering zeal ; self-denial for Christ's sake, and holy conversation, he is forming a character of growing meetness for the inheritence of the saints in light. His path is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
But the sinner, as long as he continues to cherish the love of sin and refuses to repent, adds iniquity to iniquity. As God deigns to bestow upon him the blessings of his providence and to grant him the means of grace, his obligations are ever increasing, and by violating them his sins are daily growing in number and aggravation. He is continually resisting divine light, practically despising the invitations of the gospel, and neglecting the great salvation. “Accordingly, he abuses the season of his probation and all his religious privileges by treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Either this character, or that of the believer, every person is forming. The season of probation is to men of different characters, as the fertile soil and the genial climate are to the good tree and the corrupt one; causing the good tree to strike deeper and stronger its roots, to spread wider its branches, and to bear an increasing abundance of good fruit; while the same effect is produced in the corrupt tree, except that its fruit is evil. The only remedy for the sinner is to become a new creature in Christ.
4. Since this life is a season of probation for eternity, time is of immense value. If it could be occupied for.no more important end than to gain earthly good, to get worldiy riches and honors, even to secure the possession of a throne, a crown, an empire, it would not be sacrilege to waste it. But its a season of probation for eternity, it is sacred. Like the interests of the soul which depend on the right use of it, it is invaluable. It cannot be abused or was'ed, except with loss or damage which will be felt through all eternity. A right use of it will be proportionally happy in its consequences. The Christian by occupying it in obeying the gospel, obtains salvation and eternal life. By faithful continance in well-doing he secures glory, honor, and a blessed immortality. He lays up a treisure in heaven. The more faithfully he improves his time, the greater will be the value of his heavenly treasure, the richer his reward; because every one will receive according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. But the Christian is liable to make an unprofitable or perverted use of time; and when he does, he suffers loss-loss which can never be repaired. His reward will be in eternity less than it otherwise would have been. To every Coristian, therefore, every' portion of his probationary season, whether rightly employed or perverted, is of inestimable consequence. But to the impenitent sinner time is no less valuable. The conseqnences of his past abnse of it involve evil from which nothing can deliver him but the blood of Christ. His destiny in respect to two worlds, both eternal, is to be decided ; it is in the remaining part only, of the season of his probation in which he is to make the decision. He who can estimate the importance of being Aaved from eternal woe, and of inheriting eternal life, can ap. preciate that remaining in time. Yet it may be only a day, an hour, a moment.
** Moment by moment yenrs are past, And one ere long will be our last. 'Twixt that, long ded, wbich gave us light, And that, which soon shall end in nigbt, There is a point bo'eye can see, Yet on it bange eternity."
That point of time will result in the eternal salvation and happiness of the sinner, which is the moment when he seasonably begins to repent and be reconciled to God, or to trust in Christ. Or if the sinner neglects to do this, that point of time will result in his eternal perdition, which is the last moment in which he might have seasonably begun to pursue the way to heaven, but refused to do it. Oh, with what regret and anguish will the lost sinner reflect on abused time—not only the last moment in which he might have made his peace with God, but all the years, the weeks, the desecrated Sabbaths, which shall have filled up the season of his probation !
In conclusion-since this life is a season of probation for eternity, the condition of those who hear the Gospel preached is solemn and interesting.-If you have received the truth in faith and love: if you have acceded to the terms of the Gospel, and thus secured an interest in its promises, that event which will terminate the season of your probation, will introduce you to the mansions of the blessed, where you will enjoy the presence, behold the glory, and participate in the everlasting love of your blessed Redeemer. But, in the meantime, let it be your aim to perform with fidelity the service which he requires of you. He has committed to you talents, and he requires you to occupy till he come. So live that you may adorn his doctrine, recommend his holy religion, and honor his name. While life lasts the season of your probation continues, and your conduct will effect your eternal condition. Great is your reward in heaven! But it will be more or less great according to the degree of your faithfulness. Especially consider the infinite worthiness of your Lord, and the preciousness of his cause, and realize the the obligations which you are under to him.
But the reflection that this life is a season of probation for eternity is unspeakably solemn to you who have not obeyed the Gospel. There is danger that the preaching of the Gospel will ultimately, be to you a savor of death unto death. It will unavoidably be so, if you abuse the remainder of the season of your probation as you have the past. That remainder consists of Aeeting time. It may be a short, a very short space. Whether you are aged or young, your probationary term may soon expire. Oh, beware lest you have occasion to lament at last that the accepted time and the day of salvation have for ever closed : " That the harvest is past, the summer ended, and you are not saved."
A BUSE OF CHASTISEMENTS.
BY THE EDITOR.
If afflictions do not subdue and reclaim, there is nothing like them to confirm men in their evil ways, and render them hopeless. They will break the spirit of rebellion and bow us in penitence, or so sear the conscience and deaden all moral sensibility as that nothing can alarm or make an impression. And hence, the Lord not unfrequently ceases to chastise the guilty, for the simple reason that they will only “revolt more and more.” He has used the rod upon them in vain. He has rebuked and chastisedd till the discipline has become an injury and not a benefit, and then, in righteous anger he gives them over as incorrigible. And when a man or a nation gets into so obdurate a state as that afflictions fail of their chief end, we may well despair of their salvation.
The judgments of God in this world are, no doubt, mainly disciplinary. They are visited upon men in mercy, and not in wrath ; they are a Father's chastisements, aud not the awards of a Lawgiver. They are meant to deter men from further sinning, or to reclaim them from evil ways into which they have fallen, or to soften the heart and prepare the way for more signal blessings. They are chosen to this end, and wisely adapted in their particular nature, and time, and manner of visitation, to secure it. They are means in the hands of God, of precaution, correction, reformation, obedience, and even growth in grace. They are effectual often, we know, when mercies have failed to win; when the goodness of God is all lost upon us; when the Spirit, operating through gentle means, has failed to accomplish towards us God's morciful designs.
But alas ! how many brave out the judgments, as well as pervert and abuse the mercies of God! They despise reproof, and wax worse and worse under the discipline of the rod, however mercifully and severely employed. They are made to feel the wrath of God on account of their sins, and yet they will not give them up. One after another, he takes away their friends by death, and stiļl they are unyielding. He ruins their fortunes, and disappoints all their earthly hopes, and reduces them to poverty, and yet they hold out, and only murmur in sullenness and despair. He lays his hand upon their persons, and takes away their strength, and brings them down to the borders of the grave, but, so far gone are they in evil, that, with death hanging over them, and their fears, it may be, very much alarmed, they will not repent and give glory to God. He lifts over our cities and over our borders, the sword of the destroying angel, and thousands fall on every side ; but they will not learn righteousness ; even in their distress, they will not acknowledge and seek God. And then the Lord God takes them away, with a stroke of vengeance, or, giving them up as past recovery, leaves them to their chosen ways, to fill up the measure of their iniquities. This is the melancholly experience of millions of individual sinners, and of not a few families, cities, and nations. The Lord chastises till his chastisements, like his mereies, tend only to evilmembitter the spirit-harden the heart into adamant-sear the conscienceand arm the soul to make a more desperate resistence : 'and then, weary of chastising, and weary of the blindness, and hardness, and fault-finding, and blaspheming of the miserable and guilty being who are proof alike against mercy and judgment, love and wrath, he pronounces their doom “ Ephraim is joined to idols ; let him alone."
When a man has grown so bad that no trial, affliction, or threatening seems to make him better, but only worse (which afflictions never fail to do if they do not humble and convert the soul) he is in extreme peril; and the removal of the rod is but the proof of his abandonment to the work and doom of his transgression. He has reached a point at which hope turns back, and beyond which no goodness wins, or wrath or judgment restrains. What shall reclaim such an one ? Past mercies have only made him forgetful of God. Past judgments—it may be made severe, and oft repeated--have only made him more rebellio us than ever before. And having past through so much affliction, and growing worse continually, what, short of death and and the thunder of final judgment, shall open his eyes and make him feel ? So witho with families. If God visits a family with sore and repeated afflictions, and yet they will not call upon him or inend their ways, that house is nigh unto cursing;" and though he may forbear for the present, and smile on them in his providence, he will, when his own good time has come, pour out his “ fury " upon it. The same is true of nations. So long as judgments, threatened or executed, have a good effect upon the moral sentiments and feelings and conduct of a people, we have reason to expect that God will hold over them the rod, and inflict it just as often and j st as severely as is necessary to gain their attention, correct their errors, and fit them to prfit by his blessings. But nations have often, like Israel and Egypt, so rebelled against chastisements, peculiar and decisive, that in rightous anger God has withheld the rod, and left them to the dominion of pride, luxury, lust, unbelief, and every evil thing which they desired, and thus their prosperity has proved a snare, and their wrestrained indulgence brought slow but sure and utter ruin upon them, in the ordinary course of things; or, provoked beyond endurance, he has by one ter.