Why (as the Holy Ghost said, To day if you will hear his voice,…
Not to listen to God's voice (evil and perilous though it be) is a far lesser evil than to will not to listen to it. Men fail to listen through the impulse of passion; they will not to listen through deliberate choice. A single sin, grave though it be, is of human infirmity; to defer repentance, when called, is deliberately to reject God.
He does not promise you time. One time is our's, now. The past is gone; the future is not yet. One time we ever have, a time fleeting by, an ever-passing present. God renews to us this present again and again, in every moment of our being. You can attend, or pray, or resolve at this moment. When the next is come, you may, if God's grace continues, do the same. But you cannot efface what you have done; you cannot replace what you have left undone. But there will be a morrow which will have no to-morrow except eternity. God has promised pardon to the penitent, but where has He promised a morrow to the procrastinator?
He has not promised thee grace. He gives His grace at all times freely. We have no claim upon it; else it were not grace, but debt. He gives it overflowing, without, beyond, against our deserts. But He gives it with wisdom also. He gives it although it is abused; but He does not give it in order that it should be abused, or to encourage man's abuse of it. But it would be to encourage man's abuse of it, to store it up for those who not only again and again refuse it, but who refuse it now because they may have it hereafter (Romans 2:4, 5). What is it but to make the mercy of God the occasion of sin, to sin on now, because God is so good, that thou thinkest that He will give thee grace to repent hereafter? And when wishest thou that He should give thee grace to amend? Next year? or the next? or the next? No! In none of these, if thou art even thus far honest with thyself, dost thou wish to amend. No, not yet. How is this? Because thou knowest full well, that even in these six years, thy passions will not be exhausted, thy desires will not be weakened; the wants which thou suppliest unlawfully will still be craving; the evil habits which thou nurturest will be even strengthened; the embers of thy earthly fires will not have died out. "When, then," God may ask, "wilt thou choose Me?" Alas, if thou speakest truly, thou wilt say, "When I have nothing else to prefer to Thee." God is nothing to thee. Thou wantest, willest, wishest nothing of God, but to escape Him. It is not God thou choosest, but thyself still. One thing alone thou really choosest, impunity in sin. Those who picture to themselves future repentance, picture to themselves at best only the exchange of pleasure for pleasure, unlawful pleasure, it may be, for lawful; but mostly they picture to themselves a time when they shall be worn out to the world and the world to them, in sickness or death. Then they would give up what they cannot keep; they would part with what has parted with them; and they would receive in exchange — not God whom they know not, but — in some way, they know not how, escape from hell.
But wilt thou then have the will to repent? Judge of the future from the past. Think of the time when thou wert just hesitating on the borders of sin, when it first looked pleasant to thee, when first thou was tempted to some slight forbidden gain to take some little thing that was not thine, to give way to some childish or youthful vanity, to taste some slight forbidden pleasure. If thou hast not repented yet, hast thou more or less mastery over thyself now than then? Is it easier to thee to abstain from greater sin now than from lesser sin then? Too surely, thy bands have been bound faster around thee; thy desires have become stronger; thy will weaker. People sin, out of the very habit of sinning. Sin wears out the heart, the mind, the soul, the strength; not itself. It lives on upon the life of soul and body ... Its seat is in the will. It corrupts the will. The corrupted will anticipates the sin in act; it survives the power to enact. Avarice, falsehood, hatred, censoriousness, vanity, hypocrisy, love of ill-gotten goods, impurity, will live on in the aged sinner's soul; they will accompany him to the last; they will pass out of this world with him and in him; but whither will they accompany him? Will they escort him, as an angel-train, guarding him from the evil spirits, who wait for the departure of the disembodied soul, to seize on their lawful prey? Will they carry him to Abraham's bosom, into the realms of peace and truth and love, where nothing defile, I shall enter? Will they present him before the judgment-seat of Christ, who bids us to love one another as He has loved us, to purify ourselves as He is pure, to deny ourselves as He denied Himself and emptied Himself of His glory that He might take our shame, and thereby bring us to partake of His glory and His love?