ARE YOU ON THE ROAD TO HEAVEN OR HELL?
The readers of this address, and indeed the whole world at large, may be distributed into two kinds of people: those who are travelling to Canaan, and those who are going the direct contrary way. There are but two roads: the broad, which leadeth to destruction, and the narrow, which opens into life. Travelers all mankind are; and travellers at a very swift rate.
The grand point is, Where are you travelling to?
Are you desirous of knowing whither your footsteps tend, and toward what country thy face is set?
If so, have recourse to the Scriptures of truth, but study them on your knees; that is, in a spirit of prayer, and with the simplicity of a little child.
Suppose, for instance, that we look at John 16:8, where Christ thus describes the office of the Holy Ghost, and the effects which His converting influences have on the human mind: “When ‘He is come He shall convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment”; that is, He shall, first, feelingly demonstrate to them their absolute sinnership, and their total helplessness, working in them a deep sense and real hatred of self and sin; and He shall, secondly, lead them to rest on Christ, and on His righteousness alone, for justification.
Now, has God the Spirit done these things for you?
Has He wrought, or begun to work these convictions in your soul?
If He has not, nor so much as kindled a growing desire after Christ and His salvation in your breast, I dare not give you the right hand of fellowship. I dare not salute you as one of my fellow-travelers to the kingdom of God.
No, you are yet in Egypt, and you will quickly be in hell, except the Holy Ghost take you in hand, and give you a new heart, and lead you to Christ.
But if you have ground to hope that this work of grace is experienced by you in some degree; if, on looking at your soul in the gospel-glass, you can discern the traces of faith, love, repentance and sanctification there, you are of the number of those who have been enabled, through grace, to set forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan you shall come.
Two things are particularly needful for you to observe:
1. That the world will endeavour to turn your feet out of the narrow way. If the wicked are so muzzled by Providence that they cannot bite, they will snarl at least. If they cannot do you real injury, they will probably pelt you with scandal, and sneer at you for being, in their opinion, righteous over-much. But let not this discourage you ~ but imitate the blind man in the gospel, who the more he was exhorted by the multitude to hold his peace, cried out so much the more, “Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”
2. Beware of sin. May you be enabled to shun the remotest appearance of evil. Though a truly converted, person cannot fall, so as to turn back finally and perish everlastingly; yet, if he is not kept watching unto prayer, he may lose his peace and joy in believing, and that inward testimony of the Holy Spirit, that felt fellowship with God, and that sweet tranquility of conscience, without which living scarcely deserves the name of life.
It is a sad thing when a saint is overturned on the road. Though he cannot lose his soul, yet a fall may break the neck of his comforts, and make him go halting to his journey’s end. “The devil,” as one justly remarks, “is never better pleased than when he can roll a child of God in the dirt.” Beg of the Lord, therefore, to hold up your goings in His paths, that your footsteps slip not.
Yet, if you should fall, be humbled, but do not despair. May you be led to pray afresh to God, who is able to raise you up, and to set you on your feet again, and helped to look to the blood of the covenant, and say to the Lord from the depth of your heart,
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee,
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.”
It has been justly observed that “it is one thing to fall into the mire, and another thing to lie in it.” When the Lord has graciously restored you, you will look upon sin as the bitterest calamity that can befall you, and consider those who would entice you to it as the very worst enemies you have.
Soon shall we arrive where not only sin, but every temptation to it and every propensity toward it will cease for ever. As a good man once said on his deathbed, “Hold out, faith and patience! Yet a little while, and I shall need you no longer.”
When faith and patience have done and suffered their appointed work, the disciples of Christ shall ascend from the wilderness to paradise. Then will they be able to say, “Called by the Lord’s effectual grace, we went forth into the land of Canaan; and, clothed with His righteousness and preserved by His power, into the land of Canaan we are come.” Even so, Amen.
[Taken from an address by Augustus Montague Toplady on Genesis 12:5.]