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JEREMIAH viii. 6.
"I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle."
WHOSE Voice is this? (See verse 4.) "Thus saith the Lord." It is the voice of the Lord then. It is no one less than the Lord Jehovah that speaks. And what does he say? “I hearkened and heard." God hearkening and hearing! Yes. And to what did he listen? To what they should say. And does God take notice of our speech? Does he hear the words that flow from our lips? Aye, he does. What! in the public mart? In the assembly of our friends? In the chamber of our secresy? What! at all times? Abroad, and at home, and alone? Yes, God hearkens and hears. Oh! that we kept more in remembrance, that we can never utter a word but the great God is nigh to hearken to it. That in every assembly we frequent-in every conversation which we hold— in all the intercourse we have with our fellow-men-there God is present to "hearken and to hear"!
But these words teach us more than this. They strongly imply, that God follows us even into the secresy of our closets; and there, when alone, to hearken and to hear what we shall say. When we are irresistibly forced to calm and serious reflection, (though it may be but momentary,) when the thought flashes like lightning through our minds, "What place shall I occupy in eternity? how stand I in the sight of God?" then, dear reader, God is present to hearken and to hear what response we make when our consciences address us with a silent and yet no indistinct voice. And, on this occasion, God listens to what his rebellious people would say. One must have thought that the riches of God's goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering must have led them to repentance. But be astonished at the result! "They spake not aright." They did speak; but they had better not have spoken at all. And what spake they? (Verse 8.) We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us. Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain." In fact, they rejected the word of the Lord-his law went for nothing-they were altogether blinded to their sins. When they ought to have repented them of their wickedness, and to have put it closely to themselves, saying, "What have I done?"-this would have been speaking aright-but, instead of that, they only hardened
themselves in their evil ways; and every one of them turned to the course of his iniquity, and rushed more determinately into fresh acts of perverseness and rebellion, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
What determination! And a strong figure is made use of here to illustrate it. See! the determination of sinners to run on in the course of their iniquity is likened to the rushing of the battle horse in the field of war. The eagerness of the horse to dart into the battle is described in the Book of Job, xxxix. 21-25. "He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men, He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage; neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting."
And there was a remarkable instance of this in the late Indian war. In a letter from a young officer to this country, he mentions that, a week before the battle, his father (Colonel Alexander) had purchased a valuable charger at a price which gave him reason to believe that he had a well-trained animal on which he could depend. He mounted his richly caparisoned battle horse, and placed himself at the head of his troop; but no sooner had the din and clamour of the war commenced, than the horse, refusing all obedience to the rein, rushed madly into the battle, and galloped impetuously with its rider in the very ranks of the enemy, where almost certain destruction awaited it.
And does the sinner thus rush into scenes of vice and profligacy, where he well knows that his worst enemy, that roaring lion, preeminently presides? Does he plunge himself into places of worldly amusement, which the god of this world has purposely formed and designed for corrupting the mind and debasing the soul, and where he is sure that the God of heaven cannot be present to bless ? Is he to be found in the path of the wicked, of which the word of God has most especially warned him? Yea; it says, "Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away." Like the maddened steed, when it hears the beat of the drum and the sound of the fife, the clashing of swords and the roar of the cannon, rushes headlong on the glittering spears and the embossed shields of the
opposing ranks, marshalled for its destruction, oh! can it be thus that the heedless sinner turneth waywardly to his course, and rushes blindly into companies where, perhaps, "the harp and the viol, the tabret and the pipe," may help to drown the cares which he seeks to banish; but which, in truth, are only helping to keep in a state of morbid excitement that rational mind which must some day be brought to reflection; and if it be not till the sand in the sinner's glass be nearly run, and the days of his years be nearly told, the day will most probably come when he shall look back with the bitterest remorse, and declare, These festive scenes-these beguiling companions-these glittering vanities-these, these were my enemies they feigned to be my friends; but now I find that they were like hostile armies, drawn up in battle array against me, and I turned to the course (O fatal course!) into which they enticed me, as the horse rusheth into the battle." And is it thus, too, that the sinner, warned of the consequences of sin, rushes determinately to that course which most certainly must entail upon him inevitable destruction? Is he told that
the armies of hell, and a host of evil spirits, intent upon his ruin, are encamped against him, resolved to plunge both body and soul into hell, if they can but succeed in obtaining him as their prey? Has the voice of the Almighty God fallen upon his ear, telling him that the soul that sinneth it must die," and that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God"? Has the blood-red cross of a Saviour been presented to his eye, where hangs outstretched an expiring Redeemer, "who hath loved even him, and offered to wash even him from his sins in his own blood"?
Does he know all this, and still, like the maddened charger, does he rush impetuously to the course which must prove his most certain perdition? Yes; such is the impelling force of the downward course. O sinner! stay-stop, stop-take warning-turn from thy course-thou hast run in it long enough. At the end of it is the wide gate that leadeth to destruction, therefore, dear reader, I beseech you—
"Stop, poor sinner! stop and think,
Before you further go!
Will you sport upon the brink
Of everlasting woe?
Once, again, I charge you stop!
For, unless you warning take,
Ere you are aware, you drop
Into the burning lake.
"But as yet there is a hope,
You may his mercy know;
He still forbears the blow.
""Twas for sinners Jesus died;
Sinners he invites to come:
None who come shall be denied ;
--It gave me very sincere pleasure to hear from you, and to find that you derive benefit from the clothing club. may be assured that those friends who so kindly spend their time and money in assisting such persons as make efforts to help themselves, have your higher and spiritual interests at heart far more than your temporal good. Sometimes our poorer brethren and friends think that the clergyman of a parish has some personal interest in what he does for them: so he has, but that interest is not a selfish one, though it is personal. It makes him happy to see others so; but his chief joy is to see those over whom the Lord has set him shewing signs of spiritual life. It is your spiritual welfare which your ministers have at heart; and though they rejoice to see you trying to provide against the cold of winter by becoming a member of the club, they would infinitely rather see you becoming a member of Christ's family, and thus laying in clothing for that time of need, the great day of the Lord, when none but those who are clothed in the righteousness of the Saviour shall be admitted to heaven. I trust, therefore, you will join the heavenly clothing club. You will have nothing to pay when the day of reckoning comes, in order to claim the benefit. "Without money and without price" are the terms of the Great Master, Jesus Christ! How free! You have thanked me for putting you into the club at S; but you owe me no thanks; I only did what I ought to do; and I am truly glad you found benefit from it. wish I could put you into the family of Christ! But you must bear in mind that what I cannot do, your blessed Saviour can do, and is far more willing to do than I am. Now, let me beg of you to do towards him as you did to me, namely, ask him to put you into his club. Prayer is asking; and, remember, Christ has said, "Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." And, lastly, as you used to come to pay into the club, on club days, so be sure you go regularly to Christ's club, and draw out the riches there are in him for you: only remember, every day is club day with him. His bank is always open, and his hand always full: so don't you keep him "standing" and waiting for you. It would not be kind to keep your minister too long at the school-room on club days; how much more sinful to keep Christ waiting! I rejoice
to hear you come to church regularly, and that you find it good to be there.
Give my kind remembrance to your mother, and tell her I hope she, too, is trying to escape from the City of Destruction. Remember me to all your neighbours who wish to hear of me. I hope I may soon see you again, if the Lord will.
Believe me your faithful friend,
JOHN FRARON, THE FRUIT SELLler.
SOME time since, I found myself in a filthy court on the East side of the city, inquiring for John Fraron, and was answered, "It is the fruitman you mean; he lives up stairs, and you go in at that door," Following the direction, I reached the third story, and then learned that the family I sought, lived over head, and the only means of ascent was a ladder. Clambering up, I was introduced through a trap door into the garret, where the fruitman, pale and haggard, was mixing medicine for his wife who was sick in bed; two children, aged six and eight years were also sick, laying on a few rags in a corner; and the appearance of the room and of its inmates, betokened wretchedness and extreme poverty.
The object of my visit, could not be mistaken; but aside from this, the family appeared deeply grateful, because I was affected by their misfortunes, the history of which was soon told. A few weeks illness had exhausted their last resources, and taken from them all their miserable effects, excepting a miserable bed. But the man himself was recovering, and his wife's disease having passed its crisis, there was a prospect for her of returning health. Having given them a kind word, and done something for their present comfort, I left them.
A few days afterwards, I again visited my friends in the garret. Their health was improved, and the man was anxious to pursue usual calling for their support. But without money to purchase a little fruit, this was impossible, and his prospect was cheerless, indeed. Some persons had advised him to go to the alms-house for the remainder of the winter, and it was said, the alderman recommended the same course. He could not see his family starve, and being ut terly destitute of the means to help himself, what else could he do? Though thus urged, all his better feelings revolted against this debasing step. I saw, with gratified feeling, the signs of an inward struggle, while his necessities were thrusting him down from an honourable course of self-dependence to accept of public charity; "John,” said I, "you have always earned your own living; and can you now consent that yourself, wife, and children, become paupers ?" May God provide a better way," he replied, and his voice choked with emotion. "How much," I inquired, " would start you again in business?" He replied, "with good luck, five shillings would make me a beginning.' "Here," said I, "is ten shillings." And in fact, this small sum placed him on his feet again,