Page images

those who apply it to their own cases, when they know that they are sinners, and persevere in sin with the hope that they may repent and be pardoned at last.

For it appears, by the account of the thief which we have given, that he repented upon his first conviction that he was a sinner, and that he had no obvious opportunity of knowing this till he came to die; his case therefore cannot apply to any one of us, in the present day, who, being born in a Christian country, and educated from our childhood in the principles of the Christian religion, are early called to a knowledge of Christ, and to a sense of, and an acquaintance with our situation. And if we, being convinced of sin, and acknowledging the necessity of repentance and a change of life, still, deliberately or from indolence, postpone this duty at present, with the hope that we shall be enabled to do it at the last, and thus obtain salvation without any great labour to ourselves, we must not be surprised if, when the time in which we may have proposed to endeavour to bring our minds to embrace it shall arrive, we may find ourselves unequal to the task. It is “ from God alone that every good and perfect gift cometh ;” “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost ?." God only, then, can give us true repentance; and can we hope for this gift if we wilfully delay to seek it? If we postpone it while in health, and only look for it as a sort of last remedy in sickness? If we defer embracing it while we are capable of “ bringing forth fruits meet for repentance?," and only have recourse to it when that capability is taken from us? And if we have not that true repentance which God only can give us, what must become of us ? For no one, surely, will presume to suppose that a few despairing expressions or exclamations for mercy, uttered at the last, will alone carry him to heaven. Let this, then, be the lesson which we may learn from this example, that it is no encouragement to a perseverance in sin, or to a hope which may lead to a fatal presumption; but still that it is a blessed proof of the extensiveness of His mercy, who, if he could pity the infirmities of one who continued in sin through ignorance, will hardly fail still more willingly to accept of their endeavours, who have striven all their life long to serve him, and who have spent the morning as well as the evening of their days in his service, and in his faith.

1 1 Cor. xii. 3.

2 Matt. iii, 8.

Let this consideration induce us to persevere unto the end, and then let us be assured that we shall not go without a reward. “ To-day,” said our blessed Lord to the penitent thief, “to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise."

Now, whatever meaning we may attach to the word “ Paradise,” it has, I believe, never been disputed but that it signifies a place of happiness. Our reward, then, when we leave this life, if we shall be judged worthy of it, will not be postponed to an indefinite period; it is, at least to a certain extent, immediate. And may we not be permitted to draw the same inference with respect to the punishment of the wicked? And while we animate ourselves in the discharge of our duties, by the prospect of approaching reward, dissuade ourselves from vice by the prospect of approaching punishment ? At all events these are our Saviour's words to the penitent thief; “ To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Let this consideration encourage the righteous and give warning to the wicked; for our happiness we see is near at hand, or our punishment is at no great distance; and one or other we all of us must receive.

And may God protect us here, prepare us for our great change, sanctify us in our endeavours to be ready to meet it, and uphold us " in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment,” through Jesus Christ our Lord.



St. LUKE xxiv. 5, 6,

Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not

here but is risen.

We have hitherto traced our blessed Lord through some of the most important occurrences of his eventful history, to the moment in which, having bowed his head in submission on the cross, he breathed out his life. Thus did he die as an atonement for the sins of lost mankind; and by this “one oblation of himself once offered, did he make a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.” Mysterious as the event is, and inscrutable the connexion of the Godhead

« PreviousContinue »