A SEASON TO EVERYTHING REV. NUMA F. REID, D. D.

" To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." — Eocl., iii. 1.

The inspired writer goes on to say, there is "a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to plucls up that which is planted ; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up," etc. In the eighth chapter of this same book, "a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment, because to every purpose there is time and judgment." We draw this proposition from the text, that there is a season of grace allotted to every man for salvation, which, if neglected, he perishes without hope. This truth is exhibited in the natural world. Those creatures which are actuated only by a principle of instinct, which are unblest with reason, have set times and do their work in certain seasons. The bird builds its nest and the bee gathers its honey in summer ; and if, through any accident, the bird does not build or the bee gather not its honey in the proper season, they are prevented from doing so in winter because of the

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cold. Jeremiah, with this idea, no doubt, in his mind, says : " Yea, the stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle, and

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the crane, and the swallow observe the time of tlieir coming ; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord." Flowers have seasons of bud and bloom and seasons of decay. There is a season in which the trees dress themselves in rich foliage, and a season in which they cast it at their feet. There are times, and seasons, and bounds, and limits, fixed to everything in the natural world. Grod has said to the ocean,- in marking its boundaries: "Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." We find man also, in his relations to the natural world, bound and compelled to be governed by times and seasons in providing for the wants of his body. There is a time for him to plant, and a time to reap; a time to sow, and a time to gather into barns; and if he neglect these times his physical wants go unsupplied. In trade the same thing is observable. There seems to be

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in bargaining some lucky, auspicious time, which, if let slip or overlooked, the price fails or the thing fails — it becomes too late, the nick of time passes. Now, all this comes under our observation every day. I am not now addressing a single individual, who will not testify from his observation and experience the truth of these things. We all see it and feel it. Now, this thing of acting at the time, seizing the favorable opportunity in order to success, is not ^only observable in trade and speculation, but man's success in every

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department of life depends upon it. This truth called forth the celebrated saying of the great Shakespeare, who understood men and things, the workings of nature, better than any man that ever lived. Says he: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at its flood, will waft to fortune and to fame."

Farther than this, we find that these times and seasons are not only connected with his transac-

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tions and success, but are fixed upon his physical system. There is a season of youth ; if the duties and advantages of that season be neglected, the injury can never be repaired. There is a season of manhood, when the nerves are steady and the muscles strong ; if the work of manhood be not performed, it cannot be accomplished when the nerves become unsteady and the muscles lose their strength. There is a season of old age, when "those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the grinders cease, because they are few." There is a season of death. Man has his appointed time, his bounds beyond which he cannot pass. Now, if these things be true, and the truth of them our senses will not permit us to doubt for a moment, reasoning from analogy, supposing Grod has appointed the same order as to times and seasons in the spiritual world, would we not reasonably come to the conclusion that there are set times, a season appointed, in which man may

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attend to his spiritual interests, which if neg-

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lected puts it out of his power to secure his salvation ?

I know that this analogous reasoning is not in itself conclusive, and we do not rely alone upon it for the maintenance of our proposition, but simply offer it as a strong support ; and that it may be brought more forcibly before your mind we will sum it up. If the bee has its time to gather honey, and, neglecting it, cannot gather for the cold ; if flowers and trees have seasons of leaf and nakedness ; if man, in his relations to the natural world, is bound and compelled by times and seasons in what he does ; if this is true in providing for his physical wants — bounds set to his natural life — do not these facts strongly favor and sustain the conclusion of the proposition, that there is a season of grace allotted to every man, which, if neglected, he perishes ?

Thus much for the argument drawn from reasoning from analogy. We now proceed to sustain the truth of the proposition from the teachings of Grod's word, and we think it can be shown, beyond all controversy, to be true. May God help us to feel very solemn in its consideration.

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May Grod help us, both saint and sinner, to feel of what awful interest to us is the sustaining of this proposition. If it is true that every man has his season of grace, a set time for the securing of his

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soul's salvation, and that such is the nature of the plan of grace and salvation that if he neglects it his chance for heaven is gone, his doom is sealed — I say if this is true, every man ought to know it. It ought to be written in letters of fire on every man's heart. May God help us to make you see it and feel it this night. Oh, for the presence of Grod, and the light and fire of the Holy Grhost, as we look this question in the face, and put ourselves in the scales !

Now, all agree that it is the influence and agency of the Holy Spirit applying the merit of Christ's death to us that brings us into a state of salvation, and that without the Spirit helping us

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we are lost. If, therefore, this Spirit should never be given to a man, there can possibly be no hope of his salvation ; but no man will ever perish on this account, for the Spirit is given to every man, enlightens every man's mind that cometh into the world. If this Spirit shall be withdrawn from the heart after it is bestowed, man's doom is as certain as though it were never given. This is the part to which we direct your attention, and we proceed in this examination with the following strong quotation from inspiration : " My Spirit shall not always strive with man." We expect to sustain our proposition by showing that there are fixed times and seasons in which the help of the Spirit is extended to the

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soul ; that that help extends to a striving with the spirit of man to induce it to yield to Grod, and that if it shall be resisted, and those times and seasons neglected, it quits the heart, and the damnation of the sinner is sealed. Now, if we can show one case in which the Spirit of Grod has been

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withdrawn after resistance and provocation, Grod's justice — as He is no respecter of persons — commits him to the withdrawal of His Spirit from all who have been equally guilty of obstinate resistance and striving against the Spirit, or guilty to an equal extent with that • case. The first is found in Psalms, xcv, 10: "Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said it is a people that do err in their hearts, and they have not known My ways : unto whom I sware in My wrath that they shall not enter into My rest." Here is a clear case in which there was a season allotted, a definite time allowed, in which they might have secured the favor of Grod. Forty years long, says Grod. For forty years God waited with them. We have another point equally as clearly taught, that during that whole time the Spirit, of Grod was striving with them. God says, I was grieved with this generation for forty years. My Spirit was slighted and resisted. I was grieved. "We have another point exhibited in this case, that after they had resisted G-od's Spirit forty years — their allotted time — He took

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from them His Spirit, for He swore they should not enter into His rest. ' ' Unto whom I sware in My wrath that they shall not enter into My rest."

Take another case, Luke xix, 42. Addressing the Jews, our Saviour said: "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace ; but now they are hid from thine eyes." Now, we have these three points clearly taught in this case. First, that they had an allotted time — a fixed season. "If thou hadst known in this thy day." Secondly, that they neglected them — resisted the Spirit. And, thirdly, that the Spirit withdrew from them and left them in blindness and ignorance — " but now they are hid from thine eyes."

Again, the Apostle says, in Hebrews, iii, 7, 8 : "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not j'-our hearts;" Here he says, to-day. What does this mean ? He limiteth a certain day, meaning simply that there is a certain time in which the voice of the Spirit is heard, and, if not obeyed, after that limited day the heart is hardened by the

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withdrawal of that Spirit. I do not pretend, nor do I wish the impression made, that it is taught that a certain day of a man's life is appointed to him to yield to the Spirit, but that the season allotted him extends through many days, and perhaps months are represented here by a day, and, as we think, appropriately and striking-

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ly represented in several particulars. Its shortness is represented by the shortness of a day. A day is soon passed and gone. How quickly is the season of grace to the soul departed, though it extends through thirty, or forty, or three score years. A day represents the time of a man's probation by its being followed by night. When the day or season of grace is over, a dark, and gloomy, and eternal night shuts in upon the soul.

Now, take these cases cited, clear and explicit as they are, and connect them with such teaching as "Quench not the Spirit;" "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God ;" "Ye do always resist the

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Holy Ghost ;" " My Spirit shall not always strive with man ;" and does it not make it plain, and clear, and palpable — aye, does it not put it beyond all doubt, that there is a point, a limit, beyond which if a man go there is no returning ? a season which, if spent in idleness, in resistance to the Spirit, there is no repairing the injury ? Then take this Scriptural proof and connect it with the experience of those who have testified in a dying hour, that it was too late for them, that they had lived out their day of grace, and that the Spirit had left their hearts. How many dying testimonials have we to the truthfulness of the proposition of the text ? Many of you have seen and heard them.

Then take this Scriptural proof, sustained by

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the experience of those from whom the Spirit has been withdrawn, and connect it with argument drawn from the times and seasons fixed upon all things in the natural world, and can we resist the

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conviction that, as Grod has put a season upon everything, and a limit to our natural life, that He has also limited the days of the striving of the Spirit with our souls ? G-reat God ! what terror should this conviction send to the soul of that man or woman who has been resisting the Spirit of God all'their life, neglecting their day of grace ! Think of it ! Your day of grace has a beginning and an ending. How much of your day of grace is spent? The grace which has been lavished upon you, and which you have been wasting and squandering, is a fixed allowance. How much of it have you spent? How much of it is left? When it is all spent and gone, then there is no more for you. God will never extend it or contract it — never increase or diminish it. For God's sake, and for your own bouI's sake, stop right where you are ! The very next sin, the resistance of the Spirit, through this appeal, may separate your soul and the Spirit of God forever.

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