From “The Clergy of America: Anecdotes,” p. 91-94, published 1869
A writer in the Christian Review of 1839 gives the following account of a scene he himself witnessed. Speaking of Dr. Griffin, he says:
We remember him on one occasion, preaching before a large evening assembly. As he entered the sanctuary, his majestic form and snow-white head attracted every eye. He seemed to be pondering awesome subjects as he ascended the sacred pulpit. His text was Isaiah 1:18; “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord.” After a few remarks, he said: “My business, at present, is with impenitent sinners. I have a message from the Lord to deliver to you this evening. I am sent to reason with you, in His name, about the important concerns of a future world, about your interests a thousand ages from now, about the claims which the Sovereign Lord of the world has upon you, and the long score of uncancelled charges which He has against you. Let Christians stand by and assist me with their prayers, while I attempt to recall these lost souls from eternal death.” He seemed to us like a parent speaking, in all the tenderness of his heart, to his wayward children. His gentle spirit and subdued tones served to complete such an image.
“My poor hearers,” he continued, “you may have often considered a sermon from the pulpit to be a routine and unimportant matter, and perhaps never felt any particular interest in it. But it must not be so now. I am on a solemn errand from the Lord, sent by Him to speak to each one of you tonight.” He then proceeded in an easy way, to reason with them. There was the most breathless attention. He was short, direct, and overwhelming. I can see him now, as he stood at the close, referring his hearers to the awful scenes of the judgment. “My beloved friends,” he said, “I expect soon to meet you at that judgment seat, and give to the Lord an account of my labors among you tonight.” (It is solemn to reflect that many who heard him that evening are now in eternity, and have met him before the throne of God.) And then, very solemnly he said with deep feeling, “It is in view of that awful scene that I am speaking thus to you. I would not want any of you to perish,” and then with great emotion, “but if you do perish, I would be clear of your blood.”
As though not satisfied, and reluctant to leave them, he leaned forward in the pulpit and said with impassioned tones, “But you must not perish. The calls for mercy are still out. I have returned to my text, and I see there written, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.’ These heavenly words, issuing from the eternal throne, still mingle their sounds about your ears. There is yet hope. You need not perish. The door of mercy is not yet closed. That Savior who will be on that judgment seat, once died on Calvary. Though you have so long trifled with these matters, though you have so long made fun of sermons and neglected Sabbaths, though you have a thousand time been against the Sovereign Lord; yet your sins may be forgiven and all your treasons purged. Only do not now seal your damnation by continuing to reject his mercy. Fall down now at his feet, and go not from this house till you have bathed them with your tears. This is an awful moment. Heaven, earth, and hell, are now opened before you. From the throne of God which is placed in the center, the invitation is still proceeding. Not man, but God himself, is now speaking to you. If you turn away, it will be like those who turned away when their feet touched the borders of the promised land. They would not be forgiven, and they perished in the wilderness. Take care what you do. With those trembling arms, reach out and take hold of Jesus, resolving never to let go. One look will assure you that your sins are forgiven.
“Are you afraid to go? But you are going to the same Being who left the realms of glory to die for you! Go, with greater confidence than anyone who ever went to an earthly parent. Go, even with all your sins upon you. It is not to judge that He comes to you now. He has come to heal the broken-hearted and to preach deliverance to the captives. The love of Jesus looks upon you. His hands, still bearing the prints of the nails, are extended to receive you. Go, and find your heaven in the sweetness of that embrace. Go!” he pleaded.
Matthew 4:17 — From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Romans 13:11 — …The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Hebrews 9:27-28 — Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
A PRAYER ON NEW YEAR’S DAY 1745, by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784):
Almighty and everlasting God, in whose hands are life and death, by whose will all things were created, and by whose providence they are sustained; I return thee thanks that thou hast given me life, and that thou hast continued it to this time, that thou hast hitherto forborne to snatch me away in the midst of Sin and Folly, and hast permitted me still to enjoy the means of Grace and time to Repent. Grant, O merciful Lord, that thy Call may not be in vain, that my life may not be continued to the increase of my Guilt, and that thy Gracious Forbearance may not harden my heart in wickedness. Let me remember, O my God, that as Days and Years pass over me I approach nearer to the Grave, where there is no repentance, and grant, that by the assistance of thy Holy Spirit, I may so pass through this Life, that I may obtain Life everlasting… Amen.