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necessity of being prepared for such a hasty summons.
It is not necessary to prove the precariousness of human life, or the uncertainty of the manner and time of its termination, by any formal argument. Ignorant as man is in most things, these are facts forced upon his knowledge by daily and hourly experience. We may, indeed, blind our eyes to such examples of unexpected calls into the world beyond the grave; we may drive them from our thoughts, or despise the warning which they were intended to afford; but there is no man existing, who, if he turn his mind for a single moment to a consideration of his latter end, does not both see and feel that " in the twinkling "of an eye," and without the slightest notice, he may be" called hence, and be no "more seen" in this mortal state of being,
If we were to look around us, and mark the events of only one passing day, how many instances should we discover of plans frustrated, of schemes interrupted, and of prospects blasted, by the stroke of sudden death? How many examples should we note of the thoughtless sons and daughters of pleasure, of the anxious slaves of worldly business, of "the high and lofty" votaries of ambition, and of the groveling idolaters
of Mammon, swept away in a moment amid their various vain, fantastic, or unholy. pursuits? And, what is a still more affecting sight, what an havock of human happiness should we behold in the calm scenes of amiable private life, in the united household, in the dear domestic circle, by the sudden call of the father or mother, the husband or wife, the son or daughter, into the world of spirits, when they thought "not of the coming evil?"
If such, therefore, be the case with mortal man; if he hold his present existence on the most uncertain tenure; if "sudden "destruction" may "come upon him una"wares," and hurry him from a temporal into an eternal state of being, without allowing a single instant for thought, reflec tion, or preparation; what impression upon his heart, and what effect upon his conduct, should such awful considerations produce?
Did the question relate to the things of this life, we should have no hesitation or difficulty in answering it. Were we fully assured that a sudden attack might be made on our property or persons, on what was most dear, or necessary, or useful to us, we should unquestionably prepare our selves for it. We should think often, and deeply, on measures of security; and en
deavour to avoid the terror of surprize by adopting all the means which foresight and caution could suggest for the purpose; and did we not act with this common prudence, we should well deserve to be ranked with the madman or the fool.
But, assuredly, if such a proceeding be reasonable and necessary with regard to our temporal safety and well-being, it is the very height of folly and rashness, as well as wickedness, to be thoughtless or incautious about our eternal lot; to slumber in idle security, when a desperate enemy is ever at hand, who, like the waters of the flood, may unexpectedly descend upon us, and sweep us in an instant from the land of the living! Think, my christian brethren, what would be our condition, if "this night" our souls should be required of us, and we were totally unprepared for the change of a temporal into an everlasting condition of being! Think, if a single moment were allowed us between life and death, how that single moment would be filled up with what bitter regrets at having despised "the goodness of God, which "leadeth to repentance;" with what piercing sorrow at having neglected the calls and warnings of the Bible, the reproaches of conscience, the remonstrances of friends,
the advice of the wise, and the exhortations of the good; with what dreadful horror, at the prospect of being brought speedily before that judgment-seat, where we must give an account of the deeds "done in our bodies;" and from which will issue the terrible sentence upon the unprepared soul, and "unprofitable servant,"
Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into "outer darkness, where shall be weeping "and gnashing of teeth," "the worm "that never dieth," and "the fire" that never is quenched!"
The slightest reflection on these inevitable consequences of an unprepared and unlooked-for departure from this world. must necessarily, one should suppose, rouse the most careless soul from its lethargy, and check the most vicious one in its course of guilt; but whether or not it produce such effects on these miserable characters, it ought, unquestionably, to make a very deep impression on those who are not so far advanced in thoughtlessness or sin; and should convince us all of the urgent necessity of endeavouring to prepare for a sudden translation from time into eternity, (if such be our awful lot,) by immediately entering upon an earnest and steady course of repentance, faith, and religious obedience;
of repentance for our manifold sins, negligences, and omissions of duty; of faith in the Word of God, and of his son Jesus Christ our Lord; and of obedience to the holy, pure, and benevolent precepts of the everlasting gospel; so that should the call to "depart hence" unexpectedly thunder in our ears, it may not surprize us, as it did the careless profligates before the flood, wantoning in sin and blind security, naked of every grace, and utterly unprepared for meeting our Saviour and our Judge; but find us, on the contrary, sober and vigilant, with our lamps trimmed, our lights burning, and our hearts and time occupied in those good" works," which will "follow" us into the unseen world; which will be accepted, by the infinite mercy of God, in lieu of sinless obedience; and which will be rewarded by him, for the sake of Jesus Christ, with everlasting felicity.