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“Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the
THERE IS JUST TIME!
BY THE REV. C. M. BIRRELL. A CELEBRATED general on arriving in person on the field of battle, was informed that his army had been beaten. He turned towards the sun, which was then sinking in the west, and said decisively :-"There is just time to recover the day." The command was given, and the victory won. On one occasion, towards the close of our Lord's earthly life, he looked round upon the people near him, and thinking of them as men upon whom the night was shortly to fall, and who would thus be deprived of the means of completing the battle of life, he said with touching pity and solemnity-referring to his own death and to their privation—"Yet a little while is the light with you; walk while ye have have the light, lest darkness come upon you :" that is, the Light still shines'; darkness will soon come; there is just time to be saved (John xii. 35). :'
THE LIGHT STILL SHINES. Christ is still among us in his word. He appears there in the divine glory of his person, in the all-sufficiency of his atonement, in the infinite freeness of his love. From this centre there goes forth a lustre which illumines the way of the sinner from death to life, from the city of destruction to the new Jerusalem. It is no meteor glaring only to lead to ruin, like many of the false philosophies of the age, but the Sun of Righteousness, whose beams not only mark out the right path, but sustain the strength and joy of those who walk in it. What would thousands, not only in pagan lands, but in neighbouring countries of Europe, give for the free use of the word which we enjoy! What would tens of thousands of those upon whom the darkness of night has settled down for ever and ever, give to have restored to them for a single day, that book to which we have unrestricted access!
THE LIGHT STILL SHINES. We have Christ in his institutions. He knows that our minds are neglectful, averse to application, indolent in action, and therefore he appears not only in a book which many will not and some cannot read, but in the vocal services and visible ordinances of his Church. Our whole nature is appealed to, and our senses are made the channels of the highest truths. We unite in songs of praise; we join in common supplications; we receive expositions and enforcements of the Divine will, and that, for the most part, on a day singled out by his hand from the mass of other days, and reserved for our benefit. On these occasions he has shone with a peculiar force. He has then awakened consciences, banished doubts, removed anxieties, and lifted the mind upwards to heaven. Thousands have testified that out of the sanctuary God has sent forth his “light and his truth” to “guide" them (Psalm xliii. 3). THE LIGHT STILL SHINES. Christ is seen in his performances. He might have been traced up and down Judea by deeds of mercy. His path was luminous with benevolence from one end of the country to the other. He is now acting in a similar manner among us. “Among us!” exclaim some, “We have never either seen or heard him.” Nevertheless it is the fact. Has he not given strength to those who would otherwise have fallen before temptation-comfort to those who would otherwise have fainted beneath affliction and tranquillity in the moment of death, to many who, without him, could not bave looked upon eternity without terror! Has he not also been turning sinners from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to his own kingdom? Yes! there are those who, a little while ago, were engrossed with the world; bound by the chain of sin; “having no hope, and without God in the world,” who, to-day, are new men; in their right minds; assured of forgiveness; the friends of God; the heirs of eternal glory; possessors of the peace which passeth all understanding. There can be no stronger evidence of the presence of Christ than such a renovation of human character; and, after all reasonable abatement on the ground of imperfection, there is enough of such evidence among us as to render unbelief inexcusable, and show where life is to be obtained. But mark !
DARKNESS WILL SOON COME. Why? Is it the hour of sunset? No. There is another reason. There are habits of the mind as well as of the senses. It is well known that the eye may become so accustomed to certain objects and the ear to certain sounds, as that, at last, neither the one nor the other shall attract observation. The same thing happens to the mind. Truths and arguments, which at one time awoke the deepest interest, by being often repeated and as often neglected, cease, in the end, to secure attention. So long as this relates to matters of no importance it is well, for it leaves the mind free for other objects; but when it relates to things of the greatest importance, even to the grand question which we have been sent into the world to solve, then the consequences are terrific. That it does often apply to this subject—that men do live under the most awakening truths without being awakened, and dwell amid the light of Christ's presence without being enlightened, is an undoubted fact. Our Lord shed bitter tears over some who had become so habituated to the neglect of truth as that their salvation was impossible. “When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke xix. 41, 42).
DARKNESS WILL SOON COME. Why? Is the sun below the horizon ? No. But it retires behind a thick cloud. Christ “ did hide himself” from certain sinners (John xii. 36). For what reason? “Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him” (v. 37). He entreats, commands, reasons, chastises, and waits for a long time; but if, nevertheless, sinners choose the world rather than himself, deliberately prefer sin to holiness, and would rather have death than life, then he often permits their “eyes” to be “blinded," and their “hearts" to be “hardened," * that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted and” he “should heal them” (v. 40). Every returning sinner will find Christ willing to receive him ; but many sinners will not return; and their spiritual death is sealed before their natural death happens. There is a mystery in this which thrills my soul, and which, it strikes me, should reverberate like thunder throughout thy conscience, O careless sinner! Thou hast lived throughout another year under the sound of mercy, and beneath the beams of the light of Christ—and thou art still unawakened. There was a period of thy life, perhaps, when thou wast' not a stranger to contrition, and when the law of God seemed to pierce thy very heart; there have been seasons in thy experience when the sight of Christ crucified struck thee with remorse, and made thee purpose to sin no more against such mercy. But these impressions are dying away. They are fainter than ever. Thou art becoming more satisfied with the world. Thou hast now, almost, made up thy mind to be contented with the “form of godliness," without the power thereof." Behold, what is this coming upon thee? It is the shadow of a deep thick cloud, which in all probability is the beginning of ani everlasting darkwegs !
DARKNESS WILL SOON COME! Yes, for life will soon end. Every morning of the past year has unsealed our eyes, every day has witnessed the Divine bounty, every night has restored our strength for new scenes of mercy. But this may not continue. Time is not promised to any man. “What I say unto you," cried Jesus, " I say unto all, Watch” (Mark xiji. 37). Many who began last year with us, did not end it with us. Some were called away at its beginning, others disappeared when summer came, and others departed with the leaves of autumn. There were those who were arrested in boyhood, others in opening manhood, and others in mature age. Some of these had a warning of weeks, others of a few days, and one whom I knew, was not aware, a single minute previously, what was to happen! This last history may be repeated in thy case, O reader! At least thy time is short. Already thy shadow seems to lengthen on the plain ; surrounding objects are mingling together ; gloom is gathering on the landscape : for thy sun is nearly down. If the victory is not yet thine, it is time it were i decided, for there is just time to be saved.
THERE IS JUST TIME TO BE SAVED! Then set thyself seriously to this great business. Collect all the powers of thy mind, and let them be fixed steadfastly upon thy eagé. Never did a more solemn question demand thy time, nor more solemn issues wait upon thy decision. Call to mind all thy past postponements, thy perilous delays, thy great provocations of Divine patience. Call to mind thy numerous sins, thy lost state, thy righteous condemnation before God. Consider bow dreadful would be the horror, after all these opportunities and privileges, to go down to hell; and how blessed it would be, from this time forth, to have a well-grounded hope of going, after death, to heaven! Look-look earnestly-upon the power of Christ, upon the grace of Christ, upon the anxiety of Christ to save every sinner, and thyself among the rest, who cometh to him for eternal life. “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out” (John vi. 37).
Do objections start up in thy mind ? Hear how he answers them. Sinner : "I deserve not to be saved." Christ: “ But I deserve to be a Saviour" (Luke ji. 11). Sinner : “I have no righteousness fit to present to God.” Christ : “But I have a righteousness already accepted by God” (Rom. viii. 3, 4). Sinner : “ It is too great a thing to commit myself to thee, just at this moment." Christ : “It is too great a thing to be delayed any longer, for the night cometh, when no man can work'” (John ix. 4). Sinner: “But may I not delay until I have subdued some sing ; settled some of my temporal affairs ; prepared my friends for my intended change?” Christ : “NO.” Sinner : “May I not delay until I hear some awakening sermon p" Christ: “NO." Sinner : “May I not delay- p" Christ: “ Why seek to delay ? Is not mỳ service pleasant? Are not thy past sins enough? May not the devil pluck the rising purpose from thy heart, as thou goest into thy daily business? May not the thread of life, by which thou art hung over hell, be broken in an instant! I give thee only this present moment. ·Harden not thy heart, as in the provocation.' Behold, now 18 the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.' Choose ye, therefore, this day whom yo will serve.” (Psalm xcv. 8; 2 Cor. vi. 2; Josh. xxiv. 15.)
CHRISTIANS! you have “believed in the light” and are " the children of light” (Jobn xii. 36). But you have still much to do, and little time in which to do it. As the year took its depårture many of us have said : “ We should have read the word of truth more, we should have waited at the throne of grace more; we should have sought with more earnestness and self-denial the salvation
of immortal souls.” Then let us, in future, do these things as they ought to be done. Is lamentation sufficient? Is confession sufficient? Are tears sufficient ? No. There must be action, and immediate action. Let us so arrange our affairs as that we may rescue from the devouring world sufficient time every day for the thoughtful consideration, and diligent comparison of the Holy Scriptures, and so make progress in the knowledge of Him who shines there, and “whom to know is everlasting life." Let us take good heed to our conversation and companionship, to our thoughts and habits, that we be ready, when such seasons come, for direct communion with our Father in heaven, and for such prayer to him as shall bring down purifying grace into our hearts; that we be not unfit, if suddenly called away, to stand before him “with exceeding joy." And with what energy should we give ourselves to the work of bringing others to the possession of “like precious faith"! Are we not sometimes surprised at the ease with which we divest ourselves of responsibility for the salvation of souls ? Are there not somethe question is not asked censoriously but with self-abasement—who are contented with their own supposed prospects of eternal life, and who surrender their hearts to the cares or indulgences of the world, without ever charging themselves to speak a word to the careless, to give away a serious book, or even to let it be known in any way by their actions that they have professed to be among those of whom Chr jetsaid, “ As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you”? (John xx. 21).
Belored, let us seek this year to live so near to Christ in our secret souls, that all our ways may please him, that we may be of eminent use to the world in which we sojourn, and that we may not, at his coming, be “ ashamed;" for, “ behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Rev. i. 7).
“Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever (Jude 24, 25).
THE LIVING DEAD.
BY THE REV. A. M'LAREN, B.A. And the angels said unto the women, “ Why seek ye the living among the dead ? Ho is not here, but is risen.”—Luke xxiv. 5,,6.
We can never understand the utter deso. | himself he cannot save." And so we can lation of the days that lay betwixt Christ's never think ourselves back to that burst death and his resurrection. Our faith rests of strange, sudden thankfulness with which on centuries. We know that that grave they found those two calm angel forms was not even an interruption to the progress sitting with folded wings (like the cherubim of his work, but was the straight road to over the mercy-seat, but overshadowing a his triumph and his glory. We know that better propitiation), and heard the words of it was the cornpletion of the work of which my text: “Why seek ye the living among the raising of the widow's son and of Laza. the dead? He is not here, but is risen." rus were but the beginnings. But these But yet I think that although the words disciples did not know that. To them the before us, in the full depth and preciousness inferior miracles by which he had redeemed of their meaning, of course could only be others from the power of the grave, inust once fulfilled, we may gather from them have made his own captivity to it all the thoughts not only concerning that one death more startling and all the more stunning ; and resurrection, but we may likewise apply and the thought which such miracles, ending | them, in a very permissible modification of so,'must have ! left upon them, must have meaning, to give us suggestions as to the been something like, “ He saved others : 1 present condition of all who have departed