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the loss of every companion, can look in time, without concern, upon the grave into which his last friend was thrown, and into which himself
is ready to fall: not that he is more willing to die than formerly, but that he is more familiar to the death of others, and therefore is not alarmed, so far as to consider how much nearer he approaches to his end. But this is to submit tamely to the tyranny of accident, and to suffer our reason to lie useless. Every funeral may justly be considered as a summons to prepare us for that state, into which it shews us that we must sometime enter; and the summons is more loud and piercing, as the event of which it warns us is at less distance. To neglect, at any time, preparation for death, is to sleep on our post at a siege, but to omit it in old age, is to sleep at an attack.
'It has always appeared to me one of the most strikingpassages in the visions of Que vedo, which stigmatizes those as fools who complain that they failed of happiness by sudden death. 'How,' saya he,' can death be sudden to a being who always knew that he must die, and that the time of his
'are always drawing our attention away from a future state, some
admonition is frequently necessary to recal it to our minds, and what can more properly renew the impression than the examples of mortality which every day supplies? The great incentive to virtue is the reflection that we must die: it will therefore be useful to accustom ourselves,
we may be added to the number of those whose probation is past, and whose happiness or misery shall endure for ever.'
That it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, are truths generally admitted: why then, it may be asked, are we so unwilling to contemplate the hour of departure; why so reluctant to review a life of which an account must be given, and which, if it have not been wholly devoted to vicious pleasures, has, perhaps, been wasted in the pursuit of trifles, light and empty as the bubble that floats upon the stream?
\ It may be said, in answer to this inquiry, that men are in general so much attached to the present scene, that prospects of a celestial nature
lole, or at least the principal part of their happiness, is derived from objects of sense' consequently, these objects are sought with solicitude; the heart pants for possession; the hope
inordinate attachment contii course, will be diverted from attention to the one thing needful, and the time of serious reflection never occur, till the 'night cometh, in which no man can work.'
Should, however, a pause be indulged in the career of life, and a recollection of the past imbitter the sweets of the present, men console themselves with the hope of making ample reparation by future repentance and amendment; not considering that they are under the government of a law which requires universal and perpetual obedience—which cannot, in the very nature of the case, dispense with the violation of its own precepts, and from the penalty of which the sinner of himself cannot possibly escape.
«•-- • J - - -. "j". -.; •• .. -.-j - t The fact is, we are in ourselves utterly lost: under sentence of condemnation by the law of God; and, without the interposition of mercy, must inevitably perish. To speak in scripture language, The whole world is become guilty before God; there is none that doeth good, no, not one; therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.
These facts, which are either not credited, or not properly considered by the world, I have endeavoured to prove in some of the subsequent letters. They are, in my view, truths of the last importance, with the knowledge and belief of which our present and our future happiness is intimately connected: nor do I think their validity can be controverted without manifest opposition to the whole current of revelation. The Scriptures proceed on the supposition of the fall and depravity of man, and the principal part of their contents has either a direct, or a remote reference to these awful facts.
If, it may be asked, we -are in circumstances so dreadfully calamitous; if human nature be so degenerate and so impotent, who then can be saved? To answer this infinitely momentous question, divine revelation became absolutely necessary: for had all the sons of Adam been left to perish, as were the angels who kept not their first estate, no intelligence from heaven would have been requisite to prove their apostacy from God. They would soon have found, by painful experience, that human nature was greatly debased; that they were, in many ininstances, under the control of inordinate appetites, and frequently agitated by passions which, in numberless instances, could have no tendency to promote general happiness. As creatures of God, and as subjects of his moral government, they must have considered themselves as amenable to some law; and allowing this law to be founded in justice, which, as originating with God, it must; impartiality and common sense would have concurred in asserting that they