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from "The Poor Man's Portions" by Robert Hawker
"This year you shall die." Jer 28:16
I have often thought this passage, pronounced on the lying prophet, a most suitable sermon for a birthday portion, to be spoken in the ears of the sinner: and if qualified with the possibility and probability which arise out of our dying circumstances, it might, when commissioned by the Lord, have a blessed effect. My soul, take it for the meditation of your birth-day. It may be fulfilled this year; it must be fulfilled some year; it cannot be a very distant year; and there is a birth-day when it will be passed upon you in the year.
And why not the present year? Pause, my soul, and meditate upon it, as if this were the very year. Even though carnal men celebrate the anniversary of their birth-day, as best suited to their carnal minds, let yours be wholly spiritual. If indeed a man came into the world laughing, there might be a suitable correspondence in commemorating the annual return of such a birth with laughing. But if cries first indicated the birth of a poor helpless creature, born to want, and the subject of sin and misery; can rioting and folly be the proper celebration of such an event?
There ought to be real heart-felt joy with every child of God for another kind of birth-day. When a man begins to count birth-days in grace, every return calls for holy joy in the Holy Ghost. Not because he was born an intelligent immortal creature only, but because he was made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Not because he came into the world in a state of nature only, but because he was brought also into a state of grace. Not because he was of the stock and lineage of Adam only, but of the seed of Christ. Here is an alliance royal, holy, heavenly, divine! My soul, how many moons or years in the new life can you mark down? Let this be the arithmetic in your calculation.
And if, like the herald of the morning, the voice should say, "This year you shall die:" Oh how sweet to answer, Lord, my times are in your hands! Can they be in a wiser, or more tender, or more loving hand than Jesus'? Precious Lord, wean me from every thing here below, that I may be living nearer to you, and in you, and with you; that as the last year of my pilgrimage lessens to the month, and the month to the week, and the week to the day, nay to the very hour and moment of my departure from a body of sin and death, the last expiring words on my trembling lips may be of Jesus; and yours- Oh Lord, come home with power and sweetness to my soul, like yours to him upon the cross: "To-day you will be with me in paradise."
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