It is by this plea that a great part of mankind are constantly deceiving themselves in respect to a serious attention to the concerns of their souls. These are, doubtless, of the last importance; and there are times in which most men not only acknowledge this truth, but, in some sort, feel the force of it. This is the case, especially, with those who have had a religious education, and have been used to attend upon the preaching of the gospel. They hear from the pulpit that men must be born again, must be converted, and become as little children, or never enter into the kingdom of God. Or the same things are impressed upon them by some threatening affliction or alarming providence. They feel themselves at those times very unhappy; and it is not unusual for them to resolve upon a sacrifice of their former sins, and a serious and close attention in future to the affairs of their souls. They think, while under these impressions, they will consider their ways, they will enter their closets, and shut to the door, and pray to the Lord that he would have mercy upon them; but, alas! no sooner do they retire from the house of God, or recover from their affliction, than the impression begins to subside, and then matters of this sort become less welcome to the mind. They must not be utterly rejected; but are let alone for the present. As conscience becomes less alarmed, and danger is viewed at a greater distance, the sinner, by degrees, recovers himself from his fright, and dismisses his religious concern, in some such manner as Felix did his reprover, “Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.”
It is thus with the ardent youth; in the hour of serious reflection, he feels that religion is of importance; but his heart, still averse from what his conscience recommends, rises against the thought of sacrificing the prime of life to the gloomy duties of prayer and self-denial. He does not resolve never to attend to these things; but the time does not seem to be come. He hopes that the Almighty will excuse him a few years, at least, and impute his excesses to youthful folly and imbecility. It is thus with the man of business; there are times in which he is obliged to retire from the hurry of life; and, at those times, thoughts of another life may arrest his attention. Conscience at those intervals may smite him for his living without prayer, without reflection, without God in all his thoughts; and what is his remedy? Does he lament his sin, and implore mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ? No, nor so much as promise to forsake it immediately; but this he promises, that when this busy time is over, and that favourite point is gained, and those intricate affairs are terminated, then it shall be otherwise. It is thus with persons in single life: they will be better when they get settled in the world. It is thus with the encumbered parent: she looks forward to the time when her family shall get off her hands. It is thus with the drunkard and the debauchee: wearied in their own way, they intend to lead a new life as soon as they can but shake off their old connexions. In short, it is thus with great numbers in all our towns, and villages, and congregations: they put off the great concern to another time, and think they may venture at least a little longer, till all is over with them, and a dying hour just awakens them, like the virgins in the parable, to bitter reflection on their own fatal folly.
Excerpt from: “Instances, Evil, and Tendency of Delay in the Concerns of Religion,” a sermon preached at a Minister’s Meeting, held at Clipstone, April 27, 1791.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 146). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.