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SERMON in the circumstances of the human race, is VIII.
that produced by the discoveries with which we are blessed, concerning the government of the universe, the redemption of the world, and the future destination of man. How much dignity is thereby added to the human character and state! What light and cheerfulness is introduced into our abode ! What eternal praise is due to Him, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again into a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven!
The next effect which the subject we have considered should produce, is an earnest desire to acquire those advantages which good men enjoy at their death. The road which leads to them is plain and obvious. A peaceful and happy death is, by the appointment of Heaven connected with a holy and virtuous life. Let us renounce criminal pursuits and pleasures ; let us fear God, and keep his commandments ; let us hold faith and a good conscience, if we hope for comfort at our last hour. To prepare
for this last hour every wise man should SERMON : consider as his most important concern.
VIII. Death may justly be held the test of life. Let a man have supported his character with esteem and applause, as long as he acted on the busy stage of the world, if at the end he sinks into dejection and terrour, all his former honour is effaced; he departs under the imputation of either a guilty conscience or a pusillanimous mind. In the other parts of human conduct, disguise and subtlety may impose on the world; but seldom can artifice be supported in the hour of death. The mask most commonly falls off, and the genuine character appears. When we behold the scene of life closed with proper composure and dignity, we naturally infer integrity and fortitude. We are led to believe that divine assistance supports the soul, and we presage its transition into a happier mansion. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright ; for the end of that man is peace *.
The last instruction, which our subject points out, respects the manner in which a
* Pfalm xxxvii. 37. Q 2
SERMON wise and good man ought to stand affected VIII.
towards life and death. He ought not to be servilely attached to the one. He has no reason abjectly to dread the other. Life is the gift of God, which he may justly cherish and hold dear. Nay, he is bound by all fair means to guard and preserve it, that he may continue to be useful in that post of duty where Providence has placed him. But there are higher principles to which the love of life should remain subordinate. Wherever religion, virtue, or true honour, call him forth to danger, life ought to be hazarded without fear. There is a generous contempt of death, which should distinguish those who live and walk by the faith of immortality. This is the source of courage in a Christian. His behaviour ought to shew the elevation of his soul above the present world; ought to discover the liberty which he possesses, of following the native sentiments of his mind, without any of those restraints and fetters which the fear of death imposes on vicious men.
At the same time, this rational contempt of death must carefully be distinguished from that inconsiderate and thoughtless indiffer
ence, with which some have affected to treat SERMON it. This is what cannot be justified on any w principle of reason. Human life is no trifle, which men may play away at their pleasure. Death, in every view, is an important event. It is the most solemn crisis of the human existence. A good man has reason to meet it with a calm and firm mind. But no man is entitled to treat it with ostentatious levity. It calls for manly seriousness of thought. It requires all the recollection of which we are capable; that with the proper disposition of dependent beings, when the dust is about to return to its dust, we may deliver up the spirit to Him who gave it,
[Preached at the Celebration of the Sacrament of the
RevelATIONS, vii. 9. After this I bebeld, and, lo! a great multi..tude; which no man could number, of all
nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
SERMON IN this mysterious book of Scripture many
revolutions are foretold, which were to take place in the church of God. They are not indeed so foretold as to afford clear and precise information concerning the time of their coming to pass. It would have been, on many accounts, improper to have