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Many have carried it well till nearly the last, when one unguarded moment, one imprudent step, has been the occasion of much grief, and caused them to descend to the grave in sorrow. Watch, therefore, to the end. The enemy, perhaps, will be more artful more violent, more anxious to injure you, in proportion as you draw nearer to your home, where he knows you will be beyond his reach. Sit loose to the world. Remember you are a pilgrim, and therefore you are not to be only looking, but going forward. Watch against everything which would detain you by the way. Take leave of all sublunary objects, and thus, forgetting the things that are behind, press forward towards the 'mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Phil. iii. 14.
And now, reader, let me ask, have you reason to believe that you are travelling to this better country? No doubt you wish to die happy; but remember this can not be the case while sin is unrepented of. The life of a wicked man is often a life of gaiety, thoughtlessness, and presumption; but his death is an awful scene of horror and misery. No light from heaven irradiates his dying moments. It is all thick darkness, for there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. To die in poverty, without friends, without attendants, all solitary, without any kind aid to wipe off the cold sweat that bedews the face, without any affectionate help to alleviate pain, or sympathize with misery, is considered as a grievous and deplorable state; but, alas! what is this?
This is of but little consequence, when compared to the state of him who dies without God, without an interest in him who alone is able to save. Reader, examine thine own heart. Remember how short thy time is. A little longer, and thy body will be in the grave, and the soul—where shall I say? In heaven? No, if thou diest without repentance! On earth? No. But in the dark abodes of eternal despair. For the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Ps. ix. 17. Arise, therefore; cry for mercy! The door is not shut. Now is the day of salvation! Flee to the refuge set before thee. Behold a Saviour! He is willing to receive, willing to pardon, willing to bless. Believe in him, and thou shalt be saved; but if thou reject him, thou art undone for ever!
ADVICE RESPECTING EXPERIENCE.
RELIGION, like everything else that is valuable, has its counterfeit. There are errors nearly resembling the truth, doctrines that are apparently deduced from the sacred Scriptures, but which are in reality the doctrines of devils; precepts which some would have us believe to be of God, but which, in fact, are only the inventions of men. So likewise there may be an experience, so called, which pretends to be of a divine and gracious kind, but which, when properly investigated, will be found to savor not of God, but of corrupt nature. It is, then, of importance that we examine ourselves, lest we should be deceived; and “that we should see the difference between the holy and the profane, and discern between the unclean and the clean." Ezek. xliv. 23. We are commanded, also, to prove
all things, and to hold fast that which is good. 1 Thess. v. 24. It is my intention, therefore, in this chapter, to give some advice respecting this important subject; premising, however, that nothing is intended to discourage the weak, or reflect upon the ignorant, but rather to expose the hypocrite, and detect the
enthusiast, whose conduct and spirit so often grieve and injure the minds of the truly serious.
First Advice: Endeavor to distinguish between counterfeit and genuine experience. A false experience may arise from several causes. Some have substituted the reveries of their own imagination for gracious experience. They have talked of extraordinary impressions and revelations; they have imagined, because they have comfortable frames, that their sins were pardoned, and haye been confident they should go to heaven, while at the same time there has been little or no proof of their ever having been made new creatures in Christ Jesus. We know, also, how busy Satan is in deceiving mankind. By his insinuations he can make men believe that they are real Christians, when they are not. He can make presumption appear as strong faith, forwardness as zeal, or the fear of man as prudence. He cares not for men making a profession, attending a place of worship, or even confessing their sins, as long as they do not forsake them. They may talk of religion, believe in some of its doctrines, and attend to the performance of some duties, and yet be strangers to a vital change. Yea, this great enemy may puff them up with an idea of extensive knowledge, and such an experience which is beyond every other person's, so that they may imagine they stand high in the church; when, alas! their minds have never been savingly enlightened in the knowledge of divine things.
Mere natural impressions may sometimes be taken for the work of the Spirit of God. Sublime descriptions, awful denunciations, delightful representations of the heavenly world, the tone of the voice, the powers of eloquence, may greatly affect the mind, and cause people to imagine that they are actually converted, when their own conduct testifies to the contrary. Thus it is said that Ezekiel " was unto the people as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and could play well on an instrument: they heard his words, but they did them not." Ezek. xxxiii. 32. And it is to be feared there are too many who have their favorite ministers, their particular places, on this account. There is something pleasing or striking in the manner of the preacher, something agreeable in the place or the people, that attaches them; and, thus pleased, they are too apt to suppose all is well, while these very people can not, with any degree of propriety, render a reason of the hope that is in them.
There have been many, also, who have made pretenses to extraordinary communications with the Deity; prophets and prophetesses, who, according to their own account, have dreamed dreams, seen visions, heard voices, and pretend to predict future events, as if inspired of God for that purpose. They have set themselves up as oracles, as the peculiar favorites of heaven; while, alas! nothing has been more clearly proved than that they were deceived