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his corrupt passions-narrowly escaped the hand of haman justice-and is now, we have every reason to suppose, a fiend in hell. The jailer and Felix, for a season, walked the same road. At length the course which each pursued diverged one from the other, and continued to diverge, until the two travellers were separated by an impassable gulf.
And we, my hearers, have seen persons listening to the same religious instruction, alike believing its truth, and experiencing its power. We have witnessed them alike trembling in view of their sins, and heard them alike resolve to serve God. But they are now far different in character and conduct, and the present prospect is, that in the eternal world their states will be far different,
And you too may have seen persons convicted of sin ; you may have witnessed them making haste to keep the commands of the Lord; you may have been acquainted with their rejoicing in God, their friendship to the godly, their discharge of Christian duty, and their bright prospects for eternity. And per. haps you may have become acquainted with the fact, that some of them died triumphing in faith. You may also have witnessed others convicted of sin, and resolved to serve the Lord. You may have observed them delaying the period of their reconciliation with heaven to a more convenient season, contemplated the evidence of their increasing iniquity, and their gloomy prospects for eternity, and perhaps you may have seen some of them die without hope of a blessed immortality. Oh, when I reflect, what a vast difference there may be in after-life, and in eternity between my hearers, it excites mingled emotions -emotions of joy, and emotions of sorrow. I rejoice in hope, that some, who are now listening to the instructions of God's word, will afford clearer and brighter evidence of possessing the spirit of Christ,—that hereafter they will be disposed to wash the stripes of persecuted piety, and cherish, in friendly hospitality and cheerful love, the faithful servants of Jesus,—that they will share in the prayers, and labors, and toils, and sacrifices, and hopes, and consolations, and triumphs, and glories of the followers of the Lamb. But oh, what may be the difference in character and state between such, and those who say to the word and spirit of the Lord: “Go thy way for this time !" Are there persons now in the Divine presence who will hereafter be neglecters of his institutions, arraying themselves against his truth, and against his children, and giving fearful evidence of increasing wickedness, and abandonment of heaven. Yes, there may be such persons present, and persons too who are now under the operations of the Holy Spirit. While we trust some before us, having served faithfully their God and generation, will sleep in Jesus, awake to the resurrection of life, and be for ever blessed with the Lord, —we expect nothing else but some of you, who will say to the Almighty Spirit, “Go thy way for this time,” will fill up the measure of your iniquity, sink down into despair, be raised to the resurrection of damnation, and be for ever where is weeping and wailing.
2. The difference between embracing religion now, and resolving to embrace it at a future period, is very great. Had Paul been an incautious or an indis. criminating observer, he might not have marked the difference between the jailer and Felix, near the time of their trembling before him. The jailer said: * What shall I do to be saved ?" and Felix said: “When I have a convenient season I will call for thee.” Both heard with interest. Both trembled. Both appeared to be friendly to the subject of religion. And both resolved to give it their attention. The only apparent difference between them was, one then embraced religion, the other designed to do it at a future period. This difference in conduct may appear to some persons to be indeed small. But mark, my hearers, the difference between him who embraces religion now, and him who intends to embrace it at a future period.
In the first place, the one yields to the suggestions of the Holy Spirit, and the other hesitates. The language of the Spirit to each individual is, now is the accepted time; and the heart of the one cheerfully assents to the declaration, and yields to the impulse, but the heart of the other is still rebellious. And that conscience may be quieted, this individual resolves to obey the voice of God at a subsequent period. There is a great difference between the feelings of that son who obeys his father without delay, and those of a son who says to his father, I cannot obey you now; leave me for the present, and go thy way for this time.
In the second place, the person who embraces religion now ceases to be under the power of sin. So soon as he begins to obey God, he is a servant of God. But the convicted sinner, however many his tears and deep his distress, who delays making his peace with God, is still a slave of sin. Let the resolution of future repentance be ever so unyielding, the person who formed it is engaged in a different service, and is under the direction of a different master from him who has entered the service of God. One is a servant of Christ, and the other is a servant of Satan.
In the third place, the person who embraces religion now may appropriate to himself the promises of the gospel. These promises are made to him. Having given his heart to God, God stands pledged to be his father and his friend. But there are no promises to him who resolves to give God his heart at a future period. He may resolve and re-resolve a thousand times over to give his heart to God; yet there are to him no gracious promises. Notwithstanding all this,
“ Alas, I read, and see it plain
Or drink the wrath of God." And again, the person who engages in religion now may have assurance of heaven; while it remains fearfully uncertain whether the resolution of the other is ever executed. Fearfully uncertain, did I say! The purpose of Felix to attend to the concerns of his soul at a convenient season, we suppose was not accomplished. Did any of my hearers abide by the resolution to become pious at a future period ? Did any of you ever know a person who determined to become pious at a subsequent day, week, or month, who found his resolution to stand? How many resolutions of this character have we all broken? Though there should be found instances of persons becoming pious at times before specified, there never was a resolution like that of Felix which was kept inviolate. All such resolutions are formed with reliance on human strength to the displeasure of God. The resolve of an immediate surrender to God must be performed before any soul will have ground for rejoicing in Christ. It does not then remain merely uncertain, whether such resolutions will be kept. They will be broken. They always have been broken. But it remains fearfully uncertain, whether the person who says to the Eternal, “Go thy way for this time,” however strong and unyielding his present determination to become a child of God at a future period—it remains fearfully uncertain whether he ever has part or lot in the lasting blessings of the Gospel. My friends, those resolutions of yours to prepare for death and heaven at some future time, are a most insidious snare of the devil, by which you are taken. In the formation there was no yielding of heart to God, no bursting asunder the cords of sin; they contain nothing from which the image of Christ is reflected, nothing on which can be predicated a single promise of the Bible, and nothing which renders your salvation more hopeful. They should not silence a single murmur of your consciences. They should not calm a single rising fear of your hearts. They should not occasion a single tear to be wiped from your eyes. They should not cause you to dream of heaven for a single moment. But that
you have to this day formed no resolutions of piety, except such as that by which Felix drove Paul from his presence, and the Holy Ghost from his heart, should fill you with deep regret and serious alarm.
3. There are periods in the life of all, which appear to be solemnly critical, and of infinite moment. Had the jailer, when prostrated at the apostle's feet, looked forward to a time for effecting his reconciliation with God, in reference to the message of salvation-had he said, “Go thy way for this time," and thus driven from his presence the Holy Spirit; no finite mind could tell what would now have been his allotment. Had he said to Paul, “Go thy way for this time," instead of having been now on a throne, in the likeness of Jesus, surrounded by heavenly hosts, and engaged in an anthem of praise for redeeming grace; he might have been where peace and hope are unknown. And, my brethren in Christ, had we been suffered to defer our hopeful reconciliation with God another half-hour--had the crisis been passed without the surrender of our hearts to God-had the critical moment on which life and death, heaven and hell, in reference to us were poising, been misimproved: an Omniscient God only could tell, what would have been our present and eternal state. We will thank him, and praise his holy name in hope, that then he was pleased to incline our hearts unto himself.
And had not the heart of Felix, while he was trembling before Paul, suggested a season of delay in making his peace with God—had not Felix, with an inspired apostle before him, his sins in array, and eternity in view, foolishly and wickedly waited for a more convenient season--he might have been this day with Paul and Gabriel in glory. But oh, the state of heart which prompted that one sentence at this critical moment, “Go thy way for this time.” Will not this sentence be remembered with interminable anguish?
And had not some of my impenitent hearers breathed the same spirit of delay, their names ere this would have been enrolled, as believers, in the Lamb's book of life. While in the sanctuary of God, they would have held a title to crowns and thrones in the heavens. But like Felix they have said, “Go thy way for this time,” and condemnation is still resting upon them.
And may not the present be a period solemnly critical, and of infinite moment to some hearers ? My friend, the Spirit of God may, at the present time, be nearer to you than ever after, if he is now resisted. The crisis with you may now have arrived, and the reception or rejection of offered grace to-day may settle your destiny for Will
you breathe the request of farther delay? Shall Felix's language be again adopted, “ Go thy way for this time?" Oh, how will it tell in your dying hour? How will it tell at the bar of Christ? And how will it tell to all eternity? Cast down your weapon of rebellion, give God your heart, and rely on Christ for pardon and sanctification; and soon you shall be with the jailer in heaven.
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TESTIMONIALS. From the Quarterly Christian Spectator. "We do not hesilate to say, that Mr. Dickinson las adopteil one of the happiest expedients hitherto devised, for eliciting that diversity of gists,' in the Christian ministry, which it finite wisdom and benevolence liave bestowed for i!ie edification of the body of Christ, and for bringing sinners to the foot of the crves."
From Professors of Princeton Theological Seminary. The plan, proposed by the Rev. Austin Dickinson, of publishing a Monthly Series of Sermons, from the pens of respectable ministers of different de:romi. nations of Christians in the United States, is one, which, in our opinion, may be rendered highly interesting, and extensively useful. We do therefore willingly recommend the undertaking to the patronage of the Christian community.
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Columbus, James Hoge
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Vernon, Harvey Coe.
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Bloomfield, Bethuel Ward, Jr. Salem, Burr Bradley,
Indianapolis, George Bish.
Philadelphia, B. Wells, 17 Franklin- Greenville, Solomon Ilandy.
Canton, Nathan Jones.
Vandalia, James Hall.
Jacksonville, J. M. EX.
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Harrisburgh, William Graydon. Quincy, H. H. Snow.
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Dexter, C.P. Cowden
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ARKANSAW. Lansingborgh. Elins Parinals. Wrighisborough, Joseph Barnes Washington, Ales. M. Oakly. raskill, Joseph Penfield.
Pilsboro,' Oliver Morse.
Montreal, William Hedge.
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