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naught in nature is awake but God and thee: there; in deep and solemn meditation, think over the ter rors of that house which is appointed for all living, and with the ancient patriarch, say to corruption,
Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. Ask seriously at your own heart, “ Should these eyes never open' upon the light of another day; should the awful mandate issue forth from the Almighty Arbiter of life and death; This night, this night thy soul shall be required of thee;"> could you, without fear and trembling, face the tribunal of God, the Judge of all ? If frighted nature starts back and trembles at the thought of instant dissolution, make your former life pass before you in review, compare it with the law of God: if your former misspent time comes up before you in sad remembrance ; if your past transgressions stare you in the face, and point to the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, instantly and without delay, whilst the gate of heaven is yet open, whilst the throne of mercy is yet accessible, prostrate yourselves before God in deep humility and abasement, mourn over the sins of your past life in bitterness of soul; believe in a crucified Redeemer, who died for the sins of the world, implore compassion and forgiveness from the Father of mercies, through the merits of Jesus Christ. Thus continue fervent in prayer and supplication, and in the exercise of faith and repentance ; give not sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eye-lids, till you have made your peace with God, till you feel within yourselves that peace which passeth all understanding, that joy which is unspeakable and glorious. Thus continue at solemn and stated occasions, to consider your latter end, till death shall grow familiar to your mind, till the grave shall gradually lose its terrors, and the Sun of righteousness arise upon you in full glory.
In the second place, Let me remind you, that a good life is the best preparation for death. You may lay it down as a maxim confirmed by universal experience,
that every man dies as he lives : and it is by the general tenor of the life, not a particular frame of mind at the hour of death, that we are to be judged at the tribunal of God. It is a dangerous mistake which pre, vails amongst men, that it is sufficient for their eternal happiness, if they feel some serious emotions at their latter end. If your life has been wicked, what will it avail you, that on your death-bed you have been actuated with sorrow for your offences Judas Iscariot felt such a sorrow when he went to his own place. Late conversions are not to be trusted to, and death-bed repentances are generally nothing more than the first gnawing of the worm that shall never die. Suppose death to halt a little, the sick person recovers, washes his couch with foods of penitential tears; a thousand vows of amendment are made ; but if repentance lasts no longer than sickness, the disease and the devotion go off together ; the man returns to walk in his former ways.
Be blameless, therefore, and harmless in the general tenor of your life. Keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. Let not the sun go down upon one unrepented sin. Make it your business every night to review the actions of the foregoing day. If, through the frailty of nature, or the force of temptation, you have sinned against God, prostrate yourselves before the throne of grace, ask pardon through Christ. As you would not wish to yourselves distress, and anguish, and tribulation, at the day of death ; as you would not wish to bring down your gray hairs with sorrow to the grave ; beware of persisting in a course of unrepented sin. ..
Notwithstanding, however, of the utility of such meditations, there is no subject on which we are so reluctant to fix our attention as our mortality. We shift from one speculation, and from one pursuit to another ; we give our thoughts to wander through immensity, but cautiously avoid this theme which touches us so near ; but this is the point where wisdom begins. We can never live as we ought, till we
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have learned how to die. I mean not by this, that we should make death the constant subject of our'meditation, and have funerals always passing before our eyes. This would withdraw us from life altogether;
joyments; but although we cannot always employ ourselves in such meditations, let us at times give this subject its full weight; that certainly merits some place in our thought, which is the great close of our being here. It is awful, indeed, I acknowledge, my friends, to make approaches to the mansions of the dead ; it is melancholy to think upon the fall of this goodly structure, which was built by the hand of the Most High, but fall it assuredly must. The present moment hastens us on to our last hour. Let us, therefore, prepare for an event which we cannot avoid. We may learn some lessons from the tomb, which will avail us through all eternity.
In the third place, I shall consider death as becoming present to us, and endeavour to give you that view of it which you will one day have."
None, indeed, ever returned from the invisible world to describe the bed of death, and tell us the agonies of the last hour.' But up to that hour we can trace the man, and survey him stretched upon the bed from which he is to rise no more. A deathbed discovers the real character of men ; dissimulation is then at an end. At the close of the scene, the mask drops off, and the man appears in his true colours. Then, then, often for the first time, a man turns a serious eye upon himself; cut off from all connection with the living world ; bidding adieu for ever to all below the sun, entering within the dominions of the dead, and about to appëar before the judgment-seat of God ; surrounded by the sad circle of his friends and attendants, he reads in their trembling looks that all is over with him, that his hour is come ; then the allusion vanishes that was spread upon all earthly things; then the past risės up, often tises in bitter remembrance ;' then the future rushes upon his view with all its dark and unknown terrors
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then the sense of Deity revives, which, however disguised, lies at the bottom of every heart ; then conscience, rising up in majesty supreme, holds out such a picture of the eternal world; as convinces the most unbelieving mind; convinces him, that a future state is not the dictate of a wild imagination, is not the fig. ment of priests and lawgivers, to terrify the ignorant, and to keep the people in awe ; he sees and feels that it is an awtul reality. When the time of his departure is announced by the cold sweat and the shivering limbs, and the voice faltering in the throat, he casts a last look, perhaps a sad one, on all that he leaves behind. Then the whole creation fades from his view, the world seems to be dissolved, and, to the closing eye, nothing appears but God alone; that God, before whose tribunal he is summoned to appear.
If this fate shall one day be ours, what manner of persons ought we now to be? At that hour, the very best shall wish that they had been better, and after all the preparation that we have made, we shall wish that we had made more. Let this thought have its influence in determining us to the choice of objects which we pursue, and the course of life which we embrace. The greatest part of mankind, having no fixed or certain plan of life, have no choice in the objects which present themselves, but give the loose rein to a wandering inclination, and follow on without thinking, where accident points the way. Here, therefore, let us often pause, and seriously ask ourselves, Is the course of lite which I am now engaged in, of such a nature that it will bear a review upon the bed of death ? Are the motives of my present conduct, and the reasons which now determine me to action, so strong and well-founded, that I could plead them in my defence at the bar of eternal justice? If that is not the case, consider and be wise before it is too late. Why should you vex yourselves in vain ? Why should you pass your time in such a manner, as to make its end bitter? Why will you treasure up to yourelves anguish, and remorse, and tribulation, and make no other use of the present time, but to embitter
your last hour? Be consistent with yourselves. You cannot live the life of the wicked, and die the death of the righteous. Let, therefore, your course of action be of that kind, that draws no repentance after it ; then shall your path in life be like the morning light, which shineth more and more into the perfect day.
Having thus set out, and made progress in the ways of righteousness, you will look forward with joy. This will cause the evening of your days to smile, and the stream of life to run clear to the last. Let this consideration moderate our attachinent to earthly things. What profit bath a man in that sore travel to which he is appointed under the sun ? Why should we vex ourselves in vain, deny to ourselves the enjoyments of life, withdraw sleep from our eyes, and peace tiom our minds? Why should we add to the evils of life, and carry about with us a burden to the grave ? Even with a view to present tranquillity and enjoyment, this is folly of the first magnitude ; but, when we take in the consideration of a future life, it is worse than folly, it is sin. If we are entirely immersed in the concerns of this world ; if carthly things occupy and engross our whole attention, what shall we do when God taketh away the soul ? How will the closing eye contemplate the pomp and glitter of life, the evil of avarice, the bustling of ambition, and all this circle of vanity to which we are now enchanted ? Use this world, therefore, as not abusing it; let not the business or the pleasures of it take hold of your heart, make them not essential to your happiness, sit loose to them, remember that the fashion of this world passeth away, and that death soon puts a period to the scene, which no wise man would wish to last for ever.
In the fourth place, By making the thought of death present to us, let us regulate our conduct with respect to the friendships which we form, and cončerning the animosities which we entertain. » Affection and friendship are the best and most valuable part of human nature. The heart of man wishes to be kind, and looks around for objects. This fund