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drink, he must perish of thirst; if others do not clothe him, he must perish of cold. Surely on the whole earth there is not a creature more frail and more helpless! Consider him in the pride and vigour of manhood : even in this period of life, how like a leaf wasted and driven by the wind! When he imagines his mountain stands strong, and that nothing can move him-when he exalts himself as a god, how weak, indigent, and insufficient-subject to every breath and to every blast! Is he on the sea ? -- see how its waves whirl him where they will! Is he on the land ?-
-- see how the winds scorn his bidding, the storm how it mocks his prospects, the hurricane how it lays his dwell. ing in ruins ! thus, even when standing, is he not liable to fall-when rich to become poor-when strong to become weak ? In life is he not every moment liable and ready to die? Thus poor is man in his best estate; thus sure is it that “ each man is vanity.” Consider him in old age : is the withered and wasted leaf of winter more withered or more wasted ? His eyes how dim, his ears how dull, his limbs how shrunken, his breathing how short and how difficult; how like a walking shadow, a living death ; the evil days have come upon him, he is fallen into the "sere and yellow leaf !” Such is man, in infancy, manhood, and old age; nor is he thus frail only, but how shortlived as well as frail! To denote the shortness of man's existence, it is Jeremy Taylor, we think, who remarks that the wise men of the world have contended, as it were, who should denote its shortness by the fittest figures. By one it is likened to a shadow; by another to the shadow of a shade ; by another to a vapour; by another to the swift ships ; by another to the eagle that hasteth to its prey ; by another to the weaver's shuttle: the day casts it to the night, and the night to the day, till the web of life is spụn, and cut from the beam of time. the prophet it is compared to a leaf. Short is the duration of a leaf": such, however, is the life of man--as short in its duration as it is frail in its texture and fading in its kind. In the withered leaves, then, that at this season of the year are strewing your path, see, my brethren, the emblem of your condition. Think not more highly of yourselves than you ought to do: look to that withered leaf; like it you are frail, and like it you are fading, and like it you will soon be carried away for ever. If you shall be more deeply impressed with these truths this day than you have hitherto been ; if you shall form a truer esiimate of your condition than you may have hitherto done : if you shall be instructed more fully in, or be impressed more deeply with, the frailty and shortness of life, this leaf will not have faded and fallen, nor shall we have discoursed from it to you this day, in vain. But not only does the withered leaf instruct us in the conditions of life, it instructs us also in the conditions of death: and this it does,
2nd. In the nature of death.
A leaf that, having withered on the tree, has fallen to the ground, is a separated, a disunited thing. It is disunited from its parent tree, it is separated from its sister leaves. Such is death. It is a separation, a disuniting ; it is the separation, first of all, of the soul and body. As the union of soul and body constitutes natural life, the separation of soul and body constitutes natural death. This separation every man living must undergo: fatal to man is the neglect of this great truth.
Neglect it not, my brethren : when you see a leaf separated from its parent tree, let it remind you of the separation that must one day take place between the body and the soul ; let it remind you that you
shall not always, as you now do, see through the medium of the eye, and hear through the medium of the ear, and think through the medium of the brain. There is a spiritual world : to that world you belong : in that world as pure spirits you shall exist; on the verge of that spiritual world you are at this moment standing ; upon it you are soon to enter; in that world you shall continue to see, but not through the medium of the eye; you shall continue to hear, but not through the medium of the ear; you shall continue to think, but not through the mediuin of the brain; then all that is in this world as to you—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, shall come to an end. Now, if it should be the case that your happiness is now consisting in the seeing of the eye, or the hearing of the ear, or the gratification of the senses — in the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and in the pride of life; if your happiness consists in, and is dependent on what is material, what is to become of you in that world that is spiritual ? If your supreme happiness consists in aught that is earthly, in what shall it consist, when the world in which you are to dwell, and you yourselves shall no longer be of the “earth earthy," and when from all that is earthly, its possessions and its enjoyments, you shall be torn away for ever? If your happiness is connected with time, and the things of time, in what will you find happiness when time and the things of time shall be no more ?
Think of this, ye who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; think of this, ye who are seeking and finding your chief enjoyment in the pursuits and the pleasures of this passing and this perishing world. Hear it, men and brethren ! take it from my lips as the word of God, that a happiness springing from, and ending with time, is no happiness-it has the show, but not the substance ; it is a happiness that might content us if we were mortal only, but is no portion for an immortal soul. True happiness is an abiding happiness; the true happiness of an everlasting being is a happiness that, like himself, is everlasting. But what is this true and everlasting happiness ? In what does it consist? In doing the will of God.” A life spent in doing the will of God, is a life of happiness; a life spent in contravening the will of God, is and must be a life of essential misery. Into such a life, a life of simply doing the will of God, now, my brethren, now that you are, and while you are in the body, enter; for into this life there is no entrance in the world to come. Of good or evil in the world to come there is no first choice; such a choice must be made here; and the choice that is made here, is the choice that is ratified hereafter. You are now either doing the will of God, or you are doing your own; if you are doing your own, you are sowing to the flesh, and shall of the flesh reap a harvest of corruption ; if you are doing the will of God, you are sowing to the Spirit, and of the Spirit and in the Spirit you shall reap a harvest of life eternal.
Death is, also, that which separates and takes us from our relations and our friends. Very mysterious and deep, as you know well, the affection we cherish for our relations and kinsmen according to the
flesh. Do we hear, for example, of the sickness of a parent or a child, of a sister or a brother-with what eagerness and irepidation do we hasten to their bedside; with what interest do we gaze on their wan and wasted countenances; how anxiously do we watch the progress of the disease ; with what pure delight do we witness the first dawning of recovery! On the other hand, when we often look, but look in vain, when it is but too plain that they are dying, how does our heart sicken and die! And when at length death has completed his prey ; when the eye is broken from whose look of love our heart drew its sweetest solace ; when the spirit of the beloved object has fled, and all that remains to us is the cold, silent, and inanimate clay, how dreadful is the blow! We are overwhelmed with a sorrow we can scarcely bear, and the bitterness of which words are wanting to express. In our journey through life, many are the clouds which darken our path, and many are the events, the tendency of which is to bruise our spirit and to break our heart; but there is no event so solemn and so sad as that which converts our homes into a house of mourning, and stretches one of our nearest and dearest relations on the bed of death. Yet, all painful as this event is, it is one which we may expect to meet, and to meet which we should at all times be prepared. Among the mourners, of whom the earth is full, how many are at this moment uttering the language of the orphan children of Jerusalem—language "every letter of which seems written with a tear, and every word of which seems the sound of a broken heart:”. “ We are orphans and fatherless, and our mothers are as widows.” How many
parents, during the past year, have seen their bright and beautiful laid in the dust, and are now left to weep over not only the flower of their flock, but the last of their race ! How many husbands have stood by the bed on which the mother of their children lay dying! How
many wives lately blessed with the husbands of their hearts, are now lonely and sorrowful widows! See that band of mourners; how powerful is the claim they have on your sympathy and your tears ! yet, while you
weep with them that weep,” weep not for them only, but weep for yourselves. Sad, it is true, is their condition ; but in that condition see, my brethren, the emblems of your own.
What they are now, that all of you will be at some time, and may be soon. Children, you may soon lose your parents; fond parents, you may soon lose your children : your hearths now bright with the sunshine of their happy faces may soon be darkened; your halls now vocal with their joyous voices may soon be silent. Husbands, you may soon lose “the delight of your eyes;” and you happy wives, ye may be soon lonely widows. Such being the case, what influence ought the knowledge of this to have upon your conscience and your conduct ? surely, if permitted to exercise its legitimate influence, it will excite us to an immediate and faithful discharge of the duties we owe one to another, as parents or children, as husbands or wives. Whatever, then, in this matter, thy hand findeth to do, that do with all thy might and all thy diligence, for there is no knowledge, work, or device in the grave, whither thou art fast going. If, then, you who are children, shall be stirred up to honour, from this day henceforth, your parents more highly than ever you have yet done; and if you who are parents shall
be stirred up to perform those sacred and solemn duties you owe to your children, more faithfully in all time coming, than at any time past; if the liusband will be stirred up to a more faithful discharge of the duties of a husband, and the wife to a more faithful discharge of the duties of a wife ; so that when the sad and solemn hour of separation, which is surely coming to all, has come, amid its blackness and its bitterness, there shall be no root of regret and remorse in the remembrance of the past, and in reviewing the history of that relationship which by the hand of death has now been severed for ever; if, we say, you shall be stirred up to such a discharge of the duties you owe one to another, by means of the reflections to which this withered leaf may give rise, we shall have no cause of regret that we have directed your attention to this topic.
It is not enough, however, that we direct your attention to the death of others, let us direct it to your own. By this withered leaf, you are instructed not only in the nature, but in the certainty. of death.
Nothing is more certain than the fading of the leaf : equally certain is death. When we speak of the certainty of death, we speak, it is evident, not of its certainty as to time, or to manner: than these nothing is more uncertain. The seasons have their time of coming and going, and we know when they will come and
passagebirds have their appointed time, and we know when they will come and when they will depart; the leaf has its time to flourish and its time to fade, and we know when it will flourish and when it will fade. It is otherwise with death : “ Man knoweth not its time.” I am old, said Jacob, yet I know not the day of my death: equally uncertain is death as to the manner of its coming. Amid all this uncertainty, however, one thing is certain-death itself. What is our life, indeed, but a constant dying-a death in life. The moment we begin to live, that inoment we begin to die. I am dying while I now speak, and you are dying while you hear : every breath we take to lengthen life, shortens it; and the more we live, the less we have to live : thus do we fade as a leaf. These you may think are stale and common-place remarks. We confess they are : frequently have they been made, and frequently have they been heard; yet, though frequently such remarks respecting death and its certainty have been made, few of you have even yet given them that consideration which their paramount importance demands! Though day unto day utters speech ; though night unto night teaches man knowledge; though in every new-inade grave that meets our eye; though in every newspaper that we read; though in every funeral procession we are summoned to attend, or that we see dragging its slow and sable length along our streets; though in every funeral bell that tolls the departure of another and another to the tomb ; though the earth enters, as it were for our sakes, once every year into a state of death; though at this moment every sound that meets the ear, and every sight that meets the eye, is eloquent of death ; though in all these we have solemn utterance and stern assurances of our approaching dissolution; yet how few of us realize this approach, so as to consider and to provide against its issues ! Every species of arithmetic we will learn, but that of counting our days;
every species of economy we will study, but that of setting our house in order, seeing we must die and not live. So certain is death, it might be thought that the first and great concern of all must be to provide against its approach and its issues; yet there is nothing of which we are more forgetful; yea, this very certainty of death, instead of fixing it in our thoughts, seems to make us but the more eager to escape from its consideration, as if our not thinking of its approach would alter its nature, or delay its coming. My brethren, are we in our senses? Will our blindness to danger diminish or prevent danger? Shall we not die, because we never think of dying ? Surely we cannot think this ; you cannot but know that death is advancing, and that every effort you make to exclude it from your thoughts, does in effect but bring it the nearer! To know our danger, believe it ! my brethren, is the first step of safety; to prepare for its approach, to provide for its issues, when inevitable, is the highest act of wisdom. The prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; it is the simple only that pass on, and are punished. Let the forewarnings of danger, then, be your forearmings; let not this season pass by unimproved; listen to the voice of nature. The voice of nature is the voice of God! God speaks to us from the dust as well as from the pulpit; and if hitherto you have lived as men who were not to die, live henceforth as men who are- to die, in the full foreknowledge of the fact, live under its full influence : and that the knowledge of death's certainty and death's solemnity may issue in life's sanctity, so may you seek and find, and so may God help you.
Again, while this “ withered leat” instructs us in the certainty, it instructs us also in the universality of death.
We must, said the woman of Tekoah, all die, and be asawater spilt on the ground. That we must all die requires no reasoning to prove; sufficient is it for us to appeal to experience. Since the birth of time, how many human beings have been born into time? Time still continues, but where are those who, during its past ages, have, with their names and their actions, filled its records? The stream of time still continues to wind, but where are those who have dwelt upon its banks? We have mighty forests, and crowded cities, but where are the hands that planted the one, or that built the other ? We have books written many centuries ago, but where are those by whom they were written, and those whose actions or whose lives they record ? Like an aged mother, the earth still remains, but where are her children? Our fathers, where are they--and the prophets, do they life for ever? We have all occupied a portion of the past, but where are those who occupied it along with us? Where are the busy hands, and where the burning hearts; where are the gleaming eyes : where are the melting voices; where are the “old familiar faces ?” Ah! the busy hands are motionless; the burning hearts are cold; the gleaming eyes are dim ; the melting voices are silent; and the cold familiar faces are gone." Lover, acquaintance, and friend, have been removed into darkness. A thousand times has that dark and dreamlike past been peopled with the living, living forms and living voices ; and a thousand times has it been emptied again. A thousand times has the earth brought forth children, and a thousand times has she