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been good for him if he had never been born. It is not the particular sin, however, with which we are concerned, but rather the general state on which this fearful doom was pronounced. It was the state of one who with many opportunities long offered to him, had neglected all; who had brought himself to that condition that he might despair, but could not repent. Now if this condition were wholly ours, then it were vain to speak of it; if we had so long and so obstinately hardened our hearts that there was no place left for repentance, then indeed we might sit down and cross our arms as helplessly as the boatman when he feels himself within the sure indraught of the cataract, and that no human aid can save him from being swept down the fearful gulf. But if the boat be not so surely within the grasp of the current, if yet, though it be fast hurrying downwards, it may by a vehement effort be rescued, if the shore of certain safety be not only near, but by possibility accessible, who cannot conceive the energy with which we should struggle under such circumstances? who cannot feel of what intense efforts he would then be capable, when on the issue of a few moments of greater or less exertion, life or death were hanging ?
The words of the Scripture which I have been dwelling on are known to the ears of us all; they stand ever before us, with a truth no less awful at one moment than at another. Yet we are so
formed, that truths, at all times equally important in themselves, present themselves to our minds under some circumstances with greater force than others. It seemed to open to me the full force, the full magnitude of the truth of our Lord's words, when I heard them read this morning. For when should the importance of every moment of trial be more felt, than when we witness cases of trial ended ? When should we all feel more deeply what we have to do here, the infinite evil of neglect, the infinite blessing of Christian exertion, than now at this moment, when so many who have been long amongst us have just been removed from us, when on all of these one scene of trial has passed for ever, improved or wasted; when to one of this very number not this scene of early trial only, but the time of all trial is gone, and even at the very moment when his companions are removed to another field of labour, he has been taken to his eternal rest?
And then how flaslies upon the mind along with the awful truth of Christ's words to Judas, the accompanying truth as blessed as that is awful,—how good it is, good beyond the power of tongue to speak of, for Christ's redeemed to have been born! How bright a light is thrown upon this earthly life when we so look at it! Ilow good is it for us to be here; how thankfully, how joyfully, may we feel the consciousness that we are alive, if having joined
ourselves to Christ, and walking in His faith and fear, we know that this life shall be for ever!
So then on both sides the importance of our time here, of every day of it and of every hour, is brought out, not with exaggeration, but simply without disguise or concealment, when we are looking as now upon trial ended. We judge of things then as God judges of them; for an instant our view of earth and earthly things is like His. For when I came yesterday from witnessing all but the very death-bed of him who has been taken from us, and looked around upon all the familiar objects and scenes within our own ground, where your common amusements were going on with your common cheerfulness and activity, I felt that there was nothing painful in witnessing that, it did not seem in any way shocking or out of tune with those feelings which the sight of a dying Christian must be supposed to awaken. The unsuitableness in point of mere natural feeling between scenes of mourning and scenes of liveliness, did not at all present itself.
But I did feel, that if at that moment any of those faults had been brought before me which sometimes occur amongst you; had I heard that
you had been just guilty of falsehood, or of drunkenness, or of any other such sin; had I heard from any quarter the language of profaneness, or of unkindness, or of indecency; had I seen or heard of any signs of that wretched folly
which courts the laugh of fools by affecting not to dread evil and not to care for good ; then the unsuitableness of any of these things with the scene I had just quitted would indeed have been most intensely painful. And why? Not because such things would really have been worse then than at any other time, but because at such a moment the eyes are opened really to know good and evil, because we then feel what it is so to live as that death becomes an infinite blessing, and what it is so to live also, that it were good for us if we had never been born.
Thus when feeling strongly what it is to have our trial happily over, we turn with something of a fit interest to the trial which is still going on. From regarding those for whom our hope had even grown into confidence, we turn to those for whom anxiety is almost becoming fear. We look around upon some whose characters are manifestly undecided, upon others who we may fear seem, although not yet bad, to be yet less promising for good than they once were; upon others, again, who though looking upwards seem still as it were on the edge of danger; upon others, lastly, for whom hope is lively, yet still we know how often hope is blighted. We look around on such a scene, just fully impressed with the full importance of its tendencies both for good and for evil, and earnestly disposed,—who could be otherwise?-to assist with God's help in turning
the scale for good. But then there comes upon the mind also with no less force the conviction that no man can deliver his brother. With all the desire in the world to help in such a cause, we cannot but feel that there is no help in us. The work of turning souls is God's only; and your own, each for himself, is in not resisting the workings of His Spirit for your good.
Yet, feeling this most entirely, we would still pray you as in Christ's stead that ye be reconciled to God. We cannot but feel sure that many must need so to be reconciled; those at any rate, if there were no others, who have not yet begun to think of God, but who for many a year have been old enough to offend Him; those who have only the thoughtlessness of childhood left, but who have long lost its innocency. To them in particular the call is addressed, “ Be ye reconciled to God :" to them belongs the warning, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” How marked even to human eyes is in most instances the change from thoughtlessness to God. Not marked by changes of manner, or by adopting a peculiar and unnatural language; but by a manifest sincerity of purpose, by a plain desire to do what is right, by keeping aloof from the evil and the foolish; or as this cannot always be in such a society as ours, by not joining in their evil or their folly, by having better things to love and care for,