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ticipate as well as to reflect. When it reproves for sins committed, it delivers a verdict preliminary to the awful judgment. The book . of conscience is a sort of sealed or secret book; inasmuch as its record is carefully concealed from the public eye, however dark its registrations on the memory of the sinner himself. It opens its eventful page in early life. It begins with the first impressions of accountability. It stirs in the bosom of the child, and sends a tremor through the young heart whenever its growing depravity leads it into sin. Nothing escapes the all-vigilant eye of conscience, stationed in the soul as God's minister, and as the herald of his retributions. Every crime is duly notched. Every corrupt imagination, every wrong principle professed or indulged -every unhallowed word-every guilty act, goes into the accountbook, to swell the score against the great day of reckoning. Even when sins are as frequent as the breath, and when the sinner fancies he has bribed conscience into acquiescence, the account still goes on. Page after page is indited, and day after day the leaves are filling, until the last awful hour, when, in the dreadful volume held up by conscience before the dying eye, the sinner sees at a glance the uncancelled magnitude of his crimes. But the seal is not broken, until the great white throne is set, and the books are opened.
Many a sinner dies without disburdening his conscience. Many conceal from their dearest friends the maladies and terrors of the soul. They are even themselves not aware of all that conscience has to say against them. Some sins of special enormity may have gotten a firm hold on the memory, and may occasionally disturb their peace; but how many thousands are obliterated amid the ceaseless recurrence of business and of pleasure! The deluded man may even attempt, by some partial reformation, to demand of conscience a quit-claim for all that has past. But conscience, my hearers, never lets go her hold on the accountable soul. She is not to be bought off by any supposed virtues; nor will she waive her claims for any equivalent which mere human merit can supply. If her voice be unheeded here, it shall be heard hereafter. If her record be denied on earth, it shall be admitted in eternity. In the great audit, when every accountable soul shall be weighed in the balances, the book of conscience must be unsealed, as an important record in those awful proceedings. What a tremendous revelation will that be, when every dark and unhallowed thought or desire which has dwelt in the human bosom shall be brought forth! Will it need any other witness to close our lips, and to certify our doom? Tell me, sinner, if conscience ALONE be thy accuser, will not her testimony be overwhelming ? Will any apologies remain, after she has spoken? Will any virtues be seen, after her record has been laid open? Can you or 1, or any, talk of human merit then? As her finger points to one dark scene after another which has transpired in the deep bosom
--as she expatiates on the aggravations of the act, tells of her remonstrances and of our determination to sin—what shall we have to answer, or to what subterfuge can we retreat? How will she strip off all disguises, and read in our ears the unvarnished report of a life spent in folly and in sin! If on earth her upbraidings be so terrible—if here, where the single remonstrance hangs like a viper upon the soul—if here, where so many objects are present to divert the mind and break the force of her blows, her rebukes are yet so fearful-what will they be when her accumulated account is laid open at the judgment-bar! O for one drop of peace-speaking blood ! But then that blood will have exerted all its intended efficacy, and the prayer for its application will be utterly unavailing. Who is prepared to see opened, first the volume of Providence, and then the book of conscience? And yet
all the dead, small and great, must encounter this scene, and must read their fate for eternity out of these dreaded records.
III. The book of the law, the record of God's inspired word, must be then opened as the great statute-book of heaven.
This is the only rule of right. This not only discloses the doctrine of Providence, but teaches its influence and its bearings on the moral history of mankind. This book, coming to us clothed with the high credentials of its Author, challenges our belief, and exacts our obedience. It lays down clearly the principles of holiness, and it defines with exactness the circumstances and the guilt of transgression. It gives us history, in order to instruct us by living examples : and it presents moral precepts, in order to fortify the soul under every circumstance of temptation. It is a history of God's most gracious designs. It is the record of their fulfilment in the wondrous birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Yea, it is the very words of the Son of God, stereotyped for all ages, and presenting a system of faith, to believe which is salvation—to reject which is eternal damnation. Such a book must surely be laid open, when the soul stands for its trial at the bar of God. This, then, is one of the books, whose mysterious page will there receive a flood of light. Will not God appeal to this high standard, and inquire who has received it in faith; and thus set to his seal that God is true ? Will not its once-neglected pages flash, as it were, with the fires of indignation ? Will not the sinner remember how often its mandates were echoed from the sacred desk, and struck with appalling but momentary force on the conscience, and then were coolly trampled under foot ? Will not Jesus the Judge point to its revelations, and say, why did ye not receive them? Will not this glorious Saviour, clothed in the official grandeur of that closing scene, contrast solemnly with the insulted and crucified. Man of Sorrows; and will not every line of the Bible that speaks of Him be as a dagger to the guilty soul ? How can the sinner bear to meet its opening page? How can he look towards the throne, when his now neglected Bible shall rise up to witness against him?
John saw these books opened, and the dead small and great judged out of the things which are written in these books. Here is a prospect for your contemplation! Turn your eyes off from the pageantry of earth—from the pressing and importunate cares of this transient life. Turn them upon the awful future. There is something here of solemn import ; something that concerns both you and me; and from which there is no escape, and no concealment. Every word we utter-every design we conceive and prosecute-every movement we make-our business relations -our social relations--our talents, our privileges—what we do and what we neglect to do—all are accumulating upon the soul the impress of its eternal destiny.
Existence is a solemn trust: every soul in this house is invested with this trust. No power but God's can annihilate; therefore must existence go on. Yes, it must go on. As it proceeds it gathers responsibilities at every step. It is maturing for its eternal state. Think of this, man of the world. Think of it, vain trifler. Think of it, rejecter of the Gospel. Never can you cease to exist. If you become a suicide, you only hasten the dreadful consummation. Death ends not existence. Death confirms existence--makes its enduring; sets the seal, and settles the destiny. “ After death cometh the judgment.”. Here is matter, I again say, for your consideration. Think of it you must; not only when the voice of the preacher sounds it in your ears, but think of it you must in those intervals when the soul, in spite of resistance, asserts her immortality. But is thinking of it all you have to do? Is there no preparation necessary? Are there no sins to be given up; no sorrows to be felt ; no penitence to be felt and expressed ; no prayers to be offered ; no Saviour to be sought? Will you let existence go on, reckless how it is to end?
let the trial come, and care not whether it result in heaven or in hell? Will you invite the world to come in between you and all these fearful scenes, and so cheat yourselves of your preparation, until it is too late to prepare ? Who will begin today the work of preparation? Who will act in a manner worthy of his immortal existence? Who will balance time with eternity, and give to eternity the attention which it deserves ? Who will repent and believe the Gospel ? All is staked on this. Will you give up your sins ? Will you give up the world? Will you make this sacrifice for holiness, and for heaven? Nothing short of this can make death welcome, and disrobe the judgment of its terrors. Nothing else can give your name a place in the book of life; nothing else can place you among the redeemed, and give you a share in their unending joys. Dying sinner, what is your decision ? From that decision the appeal, I solemnly declare, shall be to the judgment-seat of Christ.
ONE OF THE SECRETARIES OF THE AMERICAN HOME MISSIONARY SOCIETY,
MEANS OF THE WORLD'S CONVERSION.
After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward
parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord.”—Jeremiah, 31: 33, 34.
The happy period predicted in this passage has been the desire and the expectation of the church in every age. It has been the burden of prophecy and of prayer. Thousands of the noblest spirits that ever walked the earth, as they beheld this consummation in distant prospect, have kindled into rapture ; and to hasten its approach, have tasked their utmost energies. The delay of this wished-for redemption of the world has ever been a subject of the church's lamentation. As we look backward over her history, we see her, in every period, prostrate before God, and crying, “Let thy kingdom come;" while a long line of patriarch's, prophets and saints, moving in sad procession, lift their tearful eyes, and stretch out their supplicating hands, saying, “Why do thy chariot-wheels so long delay ?"
Who is there among us, having any sympathy with Christ, that has not shared in this feeling and uttered this cry? How is it possible for a Christian to look out upon the world—to contemplate our race grovelling in sensuality, and ravening with malevolence, until earth groans with suffering and heaven weeps in pity-and not pray that the days of darkness may be shortened? Who has not often inquired with inexpressible desire for some more expeditious mode of evangelizing the earth? Who has not asked, if there be not in the resources of Omnipotence some more potent means than have ever yet been employed, to bring men back to God?
Such passages of inspiration as our text, are adapted to quiet our impatient solicitude, not only by furnishing an assurance of the ultimate accomplishment of our highest hopes, but also by intimating the mode in which God's wisdom will operate to produce the glorious result.
It is proposed, in this discourse, to consider the following questions :
By what INSTRUMENT will the renovation of the world be effected? and, How will that instrument be APPLIED ?
I. Let us inquire what instrument will be employed to bring about the blessed condition of the human family predicted in the text.
This instrument is Divine truth, most expressively called in the text, knowledge of the Lord: that is, the exhibition of the Divine character, more than any other truth, before all consciences, is to be the mighty engine by which Ileaven will work out the moral revolution of the world.
Do any, at first view, imagine that this is a means too simple to accomplish so vast a result ? But what is it “to know the Lord ?" or rather, what is it not ? All moral truth, every conceivable motive to goodness, is involved in knowing him-in a true idea of the holy Lord God. Let us illustrate this. We all know how we are awed by the presence of even a good man. The personal aspect of one who walks with God, whom we know to be greater and better than ourselves, has a power to restrain us from sin. Who, for example, could stand without solemnity before Isaiah, or Paul, or John; or beneath the venerable sanctity of their gaze, would be likely to harbor thoughts of sin ? When angels were accustomed to visit the earth,