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that He will be as the dew unto their souls, causing them to grow as the lily, and spread forth their roots as Lebanon. No: they come to a minister, and are not conscious of having any end in view—they listen to him, as a musical person would listen to one that has a pleasant voice, and that playeth well upon an instrument. Hence, Satan speedily takes the word out of their hearts; and they return from the house of God, not disappointed because their souls are not benefited, for they never calculated on benefit, but condemned by Almighty God; for by the word which they hear, they will be judged hereafter. Brethren, I oft feel much concern when I think
upon those to whom my word must be the savor of death unto death, rather than the savor of life unto life. I have warned them: yet such is their unconcern that they took no warning—I have lifted up Christ amongst them, inviting all to flee to Him, and declaring that whosoever liveth and believeth in Him shall never die: yet they have not believed my report. How can they then escape? They have neglected the great salvation; and if they receive not repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth,—if they continue in unbelief and hardness of heart, without doubt, they will perish everlastingly. Some there are, however, that come unto Christ's ministers in an honest and good heart, desiring to be made wise unto salvation, and
purposing to hear the word with meekness, and to receive it with pure affection. Such persons will not be sent empty away: they will not inquire to no purpose, “Watchman, what of the night?” “for the meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach his way."
Let us now direct our attention to the answer returned to the inquiring Edomite. “The Watchman said, the morning cometh, and also the night; if ye will inquire, inquire ye, return, come.” The first clause of this answer may be regarded as a solemn and impressive
caution: it is as if the prophet had said, “the morning cometh: yet it shall not continue; for as certainly as the morning arrives, so also will the night.” Every minister may make a similar answer-every minister may say to the inquirer, whether careless, or earnest, "the morning cometh,”—a morning of grace and opportunity to all,a morning of light and comfort to those that mourn in Zion. Beloved, when the glad tidings of salvation are sounding in your ears,—when the Spirit is striving with your hearts,—when the Lord is waiting to be gracious,the morning of grace and opportunity has dawned upon you,—the kingdom of heaven has been brought nigh unto you. O, consider how much is pending on your improvement of it! Your precious souls, for whose salvation Jehovah's fellow was content to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and to endure the cross, despising the shame, constitute the costly stake. To-day then, while it is called to-day, hear the solemn caution, and redeem the time by working out your salvation with fear and trembling. But as there is a morning of grace and opportunity to all, so is there a morning of light and comfort to the mourner in Zion. Yes, dear brethren, Christ is commissioned to comfort them that mourn. It is indeed his custom to make men sorrow after a godly sort in the first instance, just as the skilful surgeon lays bare and probes a wound ere he proceeds to bind it up. Nevertheless the morning cometh when he will say unto the sorrowing soul, “Be of good cheer: I am thy salvation,”—when he will give unto it beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Remember, however, that the ing continueth not, that the night cometh after. On many, the night of death steals unexpectedly; so that their sun goes down while it is yet day,—while they are yet in the heyday of life and enjoyment. To such there is no longer a season of grace and opportunity. Their eternal state is fixed: their place determined. Of others, the Lord has declared, “They are joined to idols : let them alone.” On such, therefore, the night has stolen ; and a murky night it is. They are sheep for the slaughter,— trees twice dead,—tares bound up for the burning. From some, their light has departed; so that though they fear the Lord, and obey his words, and have experienced the joy of his salvation, they walk in darkness, and see no light. The condition of such is not, as in the two last cases, absolutely desperate. Their light will in due season return; for the Lord hath not cast them off, though he makes himself strange unto them, but will restore unto them the joy of his salvation, and will speak comfortably to their hearts. Let them therefore in patience possess their souls.
The second clause of the prophet's answer, “If ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come,” must be regarded as a serious and instructive exhortation. The Edomite professed to inquire respecting the future purposes of God; and though the prophet appears to have distrusted his sincerity, he did not refuse to answer, neither did he dismiss him without a word in season. I have said that this part of the prophet's answer is somewhat obscure. It seems, however, to be interpreted by Jer. iv. 1. The Israelites are represented as saying in the previous chapter, “Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.” To this address, Jeremiah returns answer, “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me.” Interpreting Isaiah's answer to the Edomite according to the light cast upon it by this passage, the meaning will be, "If you are serious in your inquiry, know that there is no hindrance to your favourable reception, if only ye will return from your evil ways, and come unto the Lord.” This, you will easily perceive, is counsel which the minister of Christ may and ought to give to every one who says unto him, “ Watchman, what of the night?”—to every one who comes to him to inquire. It is, in fact, the sum and substance of the preaching which the Lord has commanded him to preach unto every creature ; inasmuch as it requires from all repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; for what is repentance, save that change of mind, which leads the sinner to forsake sin ; and what is faith, but such a reception of the Saviour's words as leads the penitent to come unto Him, and to surrender himself wholly to Him. Such, my dear brethren, is the exhortation which I would address to you,—to all of you.
It may be that some of you are come to inquire of me this day without any serious intention of giving heed to the things which I speak. I will not answer you according to your folly : I will rather affectionately remind you that the morning has dawned upon you. This day salvation is brought to your door. If you had never heard before, though doubtless you have often heard, that you are sinners, and that Jesus is the only Saviour, you have heard now. And 0, let not this word slip; “for truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains : truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel !" O, let it not slip; for the day may with many of you be far spent, and the night wherein no man can work,—the night wherein
will be required to give an account of neglected opportunities, and be judged by my Gospel, and be given up, if slothful and unprofitable servants, to the blackness of darkness for evermore,—cometh on apace ! O, brethren, this is no time for unconcern or carelessness : “the night cometh!” Be serious then in your inquiries about the things that concern your peace : return without a moment's delay from your evil ways, for there is no repentance in the grave; and come unto that Saviour whom you have thoughtlessly pierced,
whom you have permitted to stand without, until his head is filled with the dew, and his locks with the drops of the night, but who will in no wise cast out him that cometh unto Him : then the night of death shall give place to a morning without a cloud,—to an endless day of glory, honor, and praise.
It may be, however, that some have come to me in deep concern about their souls, and with an earnest desire to know when the night which has come upon them will be at an end. To such, I would say, “ The morning shall come as certainly as the night;" for
they that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Only inquire of the Lord in prayer, and return from every evil way, and come unto Him, leaning simply on his promise to receive and save you, and you will find rest unto your soul. It must be so; for the Lord is true, and He has said, “I will give you rest.” I presume not to say how soon; for watchman though I am, I know not what will be the duration of the night which has come upon you. Nevertheless, whilst your soul waits for the Lord's manifestations as those that wait for the morning watch, let faith lean upon a Saviour's word, and give a substance to the thing you hope for; and let your prayer ever be, “ Haste thee, beloved : let mine eye see thy salvation.”