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all, you have a good heart? Alas! I must tell you that you are greatly deceived. If you knew the real case, you would find that your heart is the worst thing about you. Thousands of evil thoughts have lodged in it. It is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. It needs to be wholly changed. You ought to pray, without ceasing“Pardon all my sins in heart and life; and create in me a clean heart, O God, for Christ's sake!"
There are some ready to say, "Tell me no more of Christ: I am so far gone in sin, that I cannot repent: let me die as I am!"-But I answer, "Why will you die?" Think of that one word, "Why?" Think of it day and night. Why will you not live? Why will you not believe? Why will you not cast one more look toward Christ? Why will for faith? Think of a man not pray dying in agonies, from the bite of a serpent: yet, just at the point of death, he had only to look at the brazen serpent, and he lived. So, if you would only look to Christ with faith, you would have pardon for all the past; you would pass from death unto life; and be made at once a new creature in Christ Jesus. Why, then, will you die, with such a Saviour set before your eyes?
O Lord, who is a God like unto thee, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin? Thou retainest not thine anger for ever, because thou delightest in mercy. O turn again, and have compassion upon
us! Subdue our iniquities: cast all our sins behind thy back. Quicken us, by thy good Spirit, in our approaches to thee, that we may come in an acceptable time. To-day, while it is called to-day, let us make haste to seek thee; lest our hearts should become hardened, through the deceitfulness of sin.
Turn thou us, good Lord! and so we shall be turned. Draw us, and we will run after thee. Heal our souls, for we have sinned against thee. Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, and love us freely, for thy dear Son's sake, Jesus Christ our Lord!
THE CURE OF INTEMPERANCE.
PROVERBS xxiii. 29-35.
Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
At the last, it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.
They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick : they have beaten me, and I felt it not when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
Is any thing too hard for the Lord? May not a drunkard be saved, and brought to a holy life?
With men, this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
The outward descriptions of drunkenness are well enough known in gin-shops. You look at them without horror, because you are used to them. The worst is the last verse: "I will seek it yet again :"-which arises from these four things: First, Your taste is spoiled.
Secondly, Your understanding is weakened.
Fourthly, Your heart towards God is hardened. With which of these shall I begin?-I will begin with the last.
1. Your heart toward God is hardened. For although sometimes, when you think of God, you are ready to cry; it is not because your heart is softened, but because you are frightened; or, because drinking has made your nerves weak.— You are in a pitiable state. You do not know Jesus as a Saviour and Friend, who can recover you from your sins in this world, and save you from punishment in the world to come. You therefore do not come to him, that you may have life. do not entreat him to help you. Sometimes, perhaps, you even hate God: you wish that he had not made you: you are ready to curse him, because he did not take you out of the world, before the sin and misery of drunkenness had overcome you. If this be the state of your mind, yet, I beseech you, do not let sin and Satan frighten you away from God.
This is not the right way to think of God. While there is life, there is hope: you should account that the long-suffering of God is salvation. Has he spared you for nothing? Did he not send his own dear Son to bring you near to him? and did not Jesus shed his precious blood, that he might save to the uttermost? But now you see how intemperance keeps you far from him. As long as you are intemperate, you do not take the first step: you do not cry for help: you do not pray in faith. Your heart turns from God, though he is ready to receive you. Satan, the enemy of God, and your enemy, rejoices thus to keep you from him. Satan would not have you look to the Saviour. It is Satan that says, "Go on drinking again and again, till you are merry or stupid:" any thing to keep you from Jesus Christ, and his salvation.
This, then, is the worst of drinking: it keeps your heart from God. And when you seem to have come a little way towards Christ the Saviour, sin and Satan hurry you back again. Sin is a down-hill road;-but do not despair: Jesus will recover you, if you hold out your hand to him.
2. Next, think how company besets you. They tell you, and you tell them, that you must drink, for the sake of good fellowship. So the drinking man ruins himself to please others; and others ruin themselves to please him. While drinking, they forget that hell is gaping, to receive them all. There impenitent drunkards will weep and howl for ever. Here, on earth, they club together in drinking,
swearing, and laughing;—especially, they laugh at hell. But in hell they never will laugh: they will only swear, while they have not so much as a drop of cold water to cool their tongue.
You must give up drinking company, if you mean to give up drinking. Pray for grace, not to mind their laughing at you. Pray for grace, not to mind their tempting you back. If they tell you that you are a pitiful sneaking fellow, and that you have no spirit, boldly tell them, that you hope Jesus, the Saviour, will make you another kind of man. Then, if they begin to curse the name of Jesus, leave them immediately, and have no more to do with them. But still, in your heart pray to Jesus;-pray for them and pray for yourself; for you are not safe by yourself, without him.
3. And then, see how drinking destroys the understanding! When people drink, they lose their memories. They blunder, and do not know what they are about. Almost any body can cheat them. Especially, they cannot understand the Bible: they cannot remember it.—But now let me tell you one short text, which I beg you to remember: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." And remember, too, that Christ saves us from our sins; but not in our sins.
4. If, as is frequently the case, your body is very much wasted and diseased by drinking, ask where to find a pious doctor: he will tell you what to do. And humble yourself under the hand of the most mighty and most merciful God.