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of salvation from deserved wrath? Who is the better judge of the most convenient season, God or you? God has determined the present to be the fittest time. “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.' Very many who have resolved upon a more convenient season, have never seen that season arrive; and what is your assurance that it. will be otherwise with you? You may be in hell, soul and body, before that season arrives.
There is another sort of persons who plead their ignorance in justification of their conduct. Though unconcerned, they fancy themselves safe, because they are ignorant. God, say they, may deal severely with others who are better informed; but I hope for mercy, because I know no better. 0, the carnal and deceitful heart! Will God have mercy upon you because you are willing to be ignorant ? Certainly not. “For it is a people of no understanding; therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show no favour.” Whose fault is your ignorance? Has not the light of the glorious Gospel shone clearly around you? Have not others acquired knowledge with the same means which you have neglected? This is an unfor
tunate excuse; for ignorant people shall not be saved. "In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the condemnation of sinners, “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Is not this the true reason of your ignorance? You cannot plead your want of time; for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the hearts, as well as the property of men, are in his hands; and he has told you that if you are first faithful to him, he will take care of you. “ Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Besides, others, with as little time as you have, can take good care of their souls, and acquire knowledge. probably waste as much time on trifles, or in doing nothing, as would be necessary, if well improved, to furnish you with all the knowledge
labour under a twofold evil; your voluntary ignorance renders you incapable of fully understanding what we say to you of your sin and danger; and you make that ignorance atone for your other faults. Your ignorance, therefore, is your sin, and not your excuse.
There is still another class of persons, who seek shelter from conviction, by comparing themselves with others. When appeals are made to their consciences, they will say, they are sure it will be no worse with them than with others; if they are lost, many others will be also; and surely the Lord will not send us all to perdition. But what if others do perish as well as you? Will the wailings and gnashing of teeth of lost souls be any comfort to you in hell? Will these not rather enhance your misery? Alas! you know not what you say. It is as much as to say, I will hazard the result, be it what it may. Are you willing to hazard eternal wrath? Can you dwell with “everlasting burnings?" Can you take comfort in “devouring fire ?" I put the question, is there any thing whatever, that is worth seeking, and which
wish to make sure ? If so, then I put it to your heart and conscience, whether any thing can be of equal importance with salvation? If you think there is, then I ask you, farther, can you carry it with you when you leave the world? Will any thing make up the loss, if you lose your soul? Finally, I ask, have you ever considered what it is to be a lost sinner in hell? I shall only refer you to Matt. xxv. 41. “Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
SECTION III. Address to those who are awakened.-If the Lord has opened your eyes to see your sins, then bless his holy name for it. You were naturally as much inclined to sleep on as others; therefore bless the distinguishing mercy of God. Study to keep your eyes open; or rather give your heart without delay to the Saviour, and then your eyes will be opened indeed. If you shut them now, and lose your convictions, your slumbers may not be broken again, till broken by the loud wailings of everlasting despair. Endeavour to improve the discoveries you have made of sin; and seek to have your eyes farther opened. The more you see of sin, the more welcome will be the offers of mercy.
Would you indeed be saved? Then take the advice given to the jailer.
“ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” To this answer of the Apostle to the jailer, your serious attention is invited in the following chapter.
THE APOSTLE'S ANSWER TO THE JAILER CON
SECTION I. The answer of the Apostle explained. - The Gospel proposes its remedy, not to those who are well in their own eyes, but to those who see and feel their disease. Christ is offered to those who are sensible of their need of him. Hence, ministers of the Gospel begin their work with conviction of sin; for this alone prepares the way to receive Christ. When John the Baptist was sent to prepare for the coming of Christ, he began here: “Repent,” said he, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So it was with Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost. Our Lord employed the same method in the conversion of Paul. The same have I attempted to do in dealing with you. I have laid sin before you; and now we enter upon the plan of relief, which is suited only to convinced sinners.
When the awakened man asked Paul and Silas what he must do, they answered him directly and plainly. They did not hold him in