This Week's Focus Passage

‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’

Focus Passage: Jeremiah 8:20

‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’

It is right to reflect upon the year past as it comes to a conclusion while yet another year begins. The Scriptures teach us; Moses teaches us; the Holy Spirit has taught us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom. It was a number of years ago that I first read a sermon by Timothy Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, from this passage in Jeremiah. It has left an indelible mark upon my heart and mind as I consider the many going year in and year out without the Lord; many sitting under the preaching of the gospel, yet not receiving it as Truth in Jesus. There will indeed come a day when multitudes will be lamenting and crying out in such words as these, The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. God’s marvelous grace will one day be offered no more. I wish to bring this year’s inserts to a close with an extended quote from Dwight’s sermon in the hopes that it may be used of the Lord to prevent someone, or many, from further procrastination.

‘Every year removes every sinner farther from eternal life. Mankind are never stationary in their moral condition, any more than in their being. He who does not advance, always recedes. He who does not become better, of course becomes worse.

‘Nor is this all. The declension is more rapid than we ever imagine. Blindness, as you well know, is a common name for sin in the Scriptures, and is strongly descriptive of one important part of its nature. Nor is it blindness to divine things only, to God and Christ, to its duty and to its salvation; but it is also blindness in respect to itself. The mind knows not that itself is thus blind, and asks triumphantly with the Pharisees of old, “Am I blind also?” In its own view no one is possessed of eyes equally good and discerning; and it usually pities all who differ from it as unable to see. No deception is so flattering and incurable as this. The views of such a mind concerning itself are false, and of course are more supporting and encouraging than truth would warrant. The soul of the unawakened sinner is invariably more sinful, and his life more deformed than either appears to be in his own eyes. Yet, with a most unhappy self-deception, he confides in his own decisions wholly; and on those of others, of the Bible, and of God, he places no reliance.

‘Hence his state is in every respect more dangerous than he does or will believe, and his declension is more rapid than with these views he can possibly imagine. This is true of every year of his life. Of consequence, the loss of a year is a greater loss than he can be induced even to suspect. Few sinners reflect on their moral condition to any such extent, and with any such solemnity, as the suspended state of an immortal mind, and the evident danger of endless ruin, plainly and vehemently demands. Usually they conclude, that their situation is at the worst attended with no uncommon danger; that if one, or two, or twenty, or fifty years are gone and lost, years enough remain to secure their salvation, and begin their repentance when other pressing concerns of business or of pleasure shall be finished. “It is a hard case,” will every sinner say, “since seventy years are the destined date of human life, and twenty of them still remain, if a work which demands so little time for its accomplishment, cannot be performed within that period. I may therefore sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play; and yet have abundant opportunity to renounce my sins, and turn to God.”

‘But a sinner ought to remember at the close of a year, that he has lost that period, and not only lost it, but converted it into the means of sin and ruin; that he is more sinful, more guilty, and more odious to God than at the beginning; that all the difficulties which lie between him and salvation are increased beyond his imagination; that his mass of guilt and the reasons of his condemnation are mightily enhanced, his evil habits strengthened, and his hopes of returning lessened far more than he is aware; that that year was added to those which he has lost, for the very purpose of engaging him to seek eternal life; that God who waited every day which it contained to be gracious to him, has seen him employ every one of these days in wickedness only; and that, instead of living many years to come, he may, within a few days be lodged in the grave, summoned to the judgment, and sentenced to that endless death which he has hitherto labored uniformly to deserve.

‘He ought also to cast his eyes around him, and see that all, or almost all, others who have, like himself, trusted to a future repentance, have from year to year become more hardened in sin by these very means; have thought less and less of turning back, and taking hold of the paths of life: and, although whitened with the locks of age, and tottering over the grave, are, with an assiduity and eagerness not less than his own, indulging the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as if assured by a messenger from the invisible world, that there is no God, no heaven, and no hell. Such as they are, will he be. Their thoughts, their conclusions, their conduct have been the same; their end, therefore, will be his. How properly then may he exclaim at the end of a year designed for his salvation, but spent in accomplishing his ruin, The harvest is past, the summer is ended; but I am not saved.

‘God, my friends and brethren, has, with infinite patience and mercy, prolonged your lives another year; and, in spite of all your sins, has renewed his blessings to you every morning, and returned them every moment. You are alive; have been fed and clothed by his bounty; have been preserved from every fatal evil, and furnished with an abundance of earthly good. You are still made probationers for an endless life. The gate of salvation is still open. The voice of the Redeemer is still heard: Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The Sabbath still resounds with praise, and invites you to seek and ask, to find and to receive. The scepter of forgiveness is still held out for you to touch and live.’

May our gracious God add His blessings to these words, for His glory.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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