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never discharged the duty their office re- In the Sixth, we place the dispensations of quires, have you not had an instructer and a providence. All events have a voice, espereprover in a brother? In a sister? In a cially those of an afflictive kind. Hence we 'wife? In a husband ? If relations have all are commanded to hear the rod. And who neglected you, have you met with no pious has not been addressed by it? He has chasfriend? No godly acquaintance? No re-tened you with sickness. You drew nigh ligious neighbour ?
unto the grave, and looked over the brink of In the Second, we place the Scriptures. life into an awful eternity. He has visited These you have in your own language, and you with disappointments in your worldly are not forbidden the use of them. You can affairs; and told you not to lay up treasure on read them; and by the perusal bring around earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and you Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Paul; thieves break through and steal. You have the prophets and the apostles; with all their seen your neighbours carried to their long warnings and invitations. And I'may apply home. You have witnessed dying beds. to you the words that were originally ad- | Your own dwelling has been made the house dressed to Timothy: “From a child thou hast of mourning—"lover and friend has he put known the holy Scriptures, which are able to far from you, and your acquaintance into simake thee wise unto salvation, through faith lence." The very day in which you have which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is lived has been full of awful admonitions, given by inspiration of God, and is profitable | When his “judgments are abroad in the for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for in-earth, the inhabitants of the world should struction in righteousness."
learn righteousness." In the Third, we place ministers. In the Yet now many are there who “regard not name of God, whose they are, and whom they the work of the Lord, neither consider the serve, they place before you your duty in the operations of his hands !” How many are various conditions of life, and alarm and allure there who disregard all these instructers and you to the performance of it. They proclaim reprovers! Let us turn from the subject, to the threatenings of the Law, and the promises II. The PERIOD of these regrets. It is a of the Gospel. They announce your danger, dying hour. It is “at the last, when thy and call upon you to flee for refuge to the flesh and thy body are consumed.” hope set before you. “Many prophets and Such a period is unavoidable. There is righteous men have desired to see the things no prevention of it, nor escape from it. Howthat you see, and have not seen them; and ever long life may be, it will have an end : to hear the things that you hear, and have the last breath will expire; the last Sabbath not heard them. But blessed are your eyes, will elapse ; the last sermon will be heard. for they see; and your ears, for they hear.” The sparkling eye must be closed in darkness;
In the Fourth, we place conscience. This the busy tongue must be silenced for ever; instructer and reprover you have always with the hands must forget their enterprizes; and you; always in you. How often has this di- those idolized frames, that exhausted so much vine messenger, when you have been ventur- time and attention in pampering and adorning on a sinful action, cried Forbear! How ing them, must be consigned to rottenness often has it arraigned and condemned your and worms. proceedings, and filled you with anguish and Such a period cannot be far off. “ For terror! How often has it told you that you what is our life? It is a vapour that appearare in the gall of bitterness, in the bond of eth for a little time, and then vanisheth iniquity; and that your heart is not right in away." It is a flood. It is a flower. It is the sight of God!
a tale that is told. It is a dream. It is a In the Fifth, we place irrational creatures. hand's breadth. It is nothing before GodCan you hear the melody of the birds, and“ surely every man at his best estate is altonot be ashamed of your sinful silence? Can gether vanity.” you see the heavenly bodies perform uner- Such a period may be very near. The ringly their appointed course, and not reflect general limitation of human life is threeon your own numberless departures from score years and ten; but few reach it, and duty ? “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; con- come to the grave in full age. Indeed when sider her ways, and be wise; which having we consider of what a multiplicity of delicate no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her organs our system is composed, and how liable meat in the summer, and gathereth her food they are to injury; and add to this the numin the harvest.” “Hear, o heavens, and berless diseases and accidents that lie amgive ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, bushed in our path; the wonder is, that we I have nourished and brought up children, live a week, a day, an hour, to an end. and they have rebelled against me. The ox Such a period is sometimes prematurely knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's brought on by sin. Solomon here intimates crib: but Israel doth not know, my people this; and it is a supposition illustrated and doth not consider.” “Be ye wise as serpents, confirmed by facts. How many die by the and harmless as doves.”
hand of civil justice; and acknowledge at the place of execution, the disregard of in- sets your most secret sins in the light of struction and reproof, in which the fatal God's countenance. With what ingratitude, career commenced! How many of those folly, madness, will you charge yourselves! who die what is called a natural death, might What reflections on opportunities lost! on fahave been now living, had not their “ bones culties perverted! What fear of mercy abusbeen filled with the sins of their youth, that ed; and of judgment approaching! What lie down with them in the dust !" How many anticipations of hell, where the worm dieth yet living, but diseased, emaciated figures, not, and where the fire is not quenched! exhibiting the appearances of decay and age, Many of the sinner's dying confessions and might have been sound in constitution, and horrors are never made known. Relations healthy and strong, had they listened to that and friends conceal them. They often inwisdom which has “length of days in her right deed mistake them, and ascribe these exclahand," as well as in “ her left hand riches mations to the phrensy of the disorder. And, and honour !" How many reduced and worn perhaps, were it not for the composing down by hard labour and living, to which draught, it would be impossible, in many they had been unaccustomed, who have pined cases, to secure the attendance of any in the away in want, or dragged on a miserable room. “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the ill ED being in prison, might have still enjoyed hands of the living God!" liberty and ease, had they followed that god- Secondly. It is useless. I do not mean as liness which “ has the promise of the life to others-it may serve to convince them that now is, as well as of that which is to what “ an evil and bitter thing it is to sin come !" As to “ bloody and deceitful men," against God," and awaken in them a salutary, they do not often “ live out half their days." because a seasonable, fear. But with re
But such a period as this, if it be not pre-gard to the individuals themselves, says God maturely produced by irreligion, is always himself: “ Because I have called, and ye reimbittered by it. “ You will mourn at the fused; I have stretched out my hand, and no last, when your filesh and your body are con- man regarded; but ye have set at nought all sumed, and say, How have I hated instruc-my counsel, and would none of my reproof: tion, and my heart despised reproof!" Such I also will laugh at your calamity; I will, self-reflection and condemnation are una- mock when your fear cometh; when your voidable unless prevented, first, by your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction being cut off suddenly, and not having a mo-cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and ment given you for thought. Secondly, by anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they your being deprived of reason, and thus ren-call upon me, but I will not answer; they dered incapable of any mental exertion. Or, shall seek me early, but they shall not find thirdly, by your having annihilated all moral me: for that they hated knowledge, and did feeling, and completely subdued the power not choose the fear of the Lord: they would of conscience—and who can tell how far none of my counsel : they despised all my a man may be hardened “ through the deceit- reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit fulness of sin," and by trifling with the means of their own way, and be filled with their of grace, and die in peace, though he is sure own devices." What! Is this dying grief, to awake in torment! Would you desire always, and invariably unavailing ?-I ansuch preventions as these? Are they not swer; we are to describe things according to more dreadful than the effect? Yet you their natural and common course, and not must hope-either for sudden death-or the according to occasional and very unusual suspension of reason-or the loss of con exceptions. And in the case before us-are science; or you must expect a dying hour to not exceptions very unusual? Do not men be imbitterred with regrets.
commonly die as they live? And with reIII. Let us consider the NATURE of these gard to those dying, regrets, to which so regrets. “And thou mourn at the last, when many look forward as a final refuge, and thy flesh and thy body be consumed, and say, from which so many instantaneous saints are How have I hated instruction, and my heart furnished for our magazine-calendars-what despised reproof!" In other cases, “ Blessed degree of dependence is to be placed upon are they that mourn, for they shall be com- them? In reply to this, let the following forted.” But this mourning has two attri-remarks be examined. butes to distinguish it.
The First regard the Scripture. There First. It is dreadful. A dying hour has we find one, and only one called at this hour. been called an honest hour. The world It was the dying thief. He implored and obthen recedes from your view, demonstrating tained mercy when the heaven was covered its incapacity to succour; and acknowledging with blackness, and the earth trembled, and that it attracted you only to show its empti- the rocks rent, and the graves were opened, ness, and elevated only to depress. The de- and a suffering Saviour would crown the lusions of imagination give way. Criminal prodigies of nature with a miracle of grace excuses vanish. Memory goes back, and re-1-a case in all its circumstances so amazcalls the guilt of former life: and conscience ingly peculiar, that were not men inlatu
ated by sin, it could never be drawn into a Yet, by the way, we should have more hope precedent.
of such a man, if he died uncertain and disThe Second is derived from observation. tressed, than were we to see him dying in We have often attended persons on what was “the full assurance of hope." For though deemed their dying bed ; we have heard God is a sovereign, and we are not to limit their prayers and their professions; we have the Holy One of Israel, it is not surely reaseen their distress and their relief; and had sonable to expect, that a man who has given they died, we should have presumed on their his whole life to the world, the flesh, and the salvation. But we have never known one devil, and is only driven to God by dying reof these, who on recovery lived so as to prove gret, should be able to say, with a Simeon, the reality of his conversion? We have often who has been waiting for the consolation of asked ministers concerning the same case; Israel; “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant and they have been compelled to make the depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy same awful declaration.
salvation." Let us conclude by three reflecThe Third regards the force of habit. tions. “ As well may the Ethiopian change his skin, First. How good is God! He is much and the leopard his spots, as they learn to do more attentive to our welfare than we 'ever good who have been accustomed to do evil.” have been, or ever can be. He originally Diseases which if taken in time are curable, made man upright; and when by transgresby becoming inveterate are rendered dession he fell away from him, he did not avail perate. “ But there is no desperate case himself of the rights his justice had acquired here," you are ready to say. “With God over him; nor did he even treat him with all things are possible. His grace is almighty." neglect. He remembered us in our low es. Acknowledged: and you shall have asl the tate, and “so loved the world as to give his encouragement derivable from a miracle of only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth grace. But what probability is there, that on him should not perish, but have everlastan extraordinary dispensation of grace will ing life.” He has sent us the information, be adopted, after all the ordinary means of with numberless means and motives to awaken salvation have been despised and neglected ? our attention to it. And these he is continuAnd despised and neglected too in hope of ally reaping. So true is it, that he is a longthis!
suffering, not willing that any should perish, Hence our Fourth remark regards the in- but that all should come to repentance and fluence of such examples. If persons who live.” So justly may he complain, “What live without God in the world were as fre- could have been done more to my vineyard, quently called in their last hour as too many that I have not done in it? wherefore, when seem to admit, would not the frequency of I looked that it should bring forth grapes, the occurrence influence persons to procras- brought it forth wild grapes ?" For, tinate their religious concerns, and to say to Secondly. How fallen is man! Some deny every present application, “ Go thy way for his depravity, contending that we are natuthis time, when I have a convenient season rally virtuous, or at least as much inclined to I will call for thee?" But does God by his good as evil. But if this be the fact, why do conduct contradict his commands? And hav- we need so many hinderances to restrain us ing said, “ To-day if ye will hear his voice from evil, and so many endeavours to excite harden not your heart;" —“ now is the ac- us to good? And why are they ineffectual cepted time, now is the day of salvation ;" | too? They ought upon this principle to be -" seek ye the Lord while he may be found, successful with the majority, or at least an and call upon him while he is near;"_would equal number of mankind. But are they? he supersede the necessity or weaken the Do we not see men generally breaking impression of all this, by his constantly re-through every restraint, and disregarding ceiving sinners when they can insult him no every kind of instruction and reproof? And longer, and showing that forced regret is as are not they who walk by the rule of God's acceptable to him as genuine repentance? word, “a peculiar people?"
For Finally, observe the uncertainty the Thirdly. How important is serious thought! individual must feel in determining the reali- In this religion commences: “I thought on ty of his religious feelings. How is he to my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testiknow whether they are the cries of nature, monies. I made haste, and delayed not to or the desires of grace? whether they flow keep thy commandments.” Could men go on from the Spirit of God, or result from his tre- as they do, if they considered their ways, mendons situation, and his depressed and discomparing them with the word of God, and ordered frame? And has he not enough to examining their consequences? Impossible. bear without this cruel perplexity? Now that It is thoughtlessness that ruins them. They he needs the comforts of religion, is he inca- never faithfully inquire, How will this close ? pable of deciding whether he is entitled to its Will it bring me peace at the last? How promises? Now that he needs confidence, will it appear when reviewed from the bora must he expire in darkness and in doubt ?- ders of the grave? “A prudent man fore
seeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the latter; and rendered it conversation. And simple pass on, and are punished.” “O that they have done so, not only in the passage they were wise, that they understood this, before us, but in several other places, meanthat they would consider their latter end !" ing however by the term, not discourse only,
but the whole tenor of our conduct. We
need not disunite these two senses. The one DISCOURSE LXXIII.
will infer and explain the other.
Be it remembered therefore, in the First
place, that the believer stands in connexion DEATH CONQUERED.
with another and a nobler world; he belonge (ON THE LOSS OF A CHRISTIAN FRIEND.) to "a better country, even a heavenly." He Our conversation is in heaven; from whence is a citizen of no mean city: “a city which also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus | hath foundations, whose builder and maker is Christ : who shall change our vile body, that God," and which abounds with laws, honoure, it may be fashioned like unto his glorious riches, pleasures, immunities, and intereourse, body, according to the working whereby he the most valuable and glorious. How did a is able even to subdue all things unto himself. man boast in being a citizen of Rome! When Phil. iii. 20, 21.
the centurion heard that Paul was a Roman, The present is not the principal state in " he went and told the chief captain, saying, svhich man is to be found; and it shoud | Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a never be viewed separate from another; to
Roman. Then the chief captain came, and which it bears the same relation as infancy said unto him, Tell me, art thou & Roman! to manhood, as spring to autumn, as seed
He said, Yea. And the chief captain antime to harvest. " Who, in nature, having swered, With a great sum obtained I this scattered one kind of grain in his field, would | freedom. And Paul said, But I was free think of filling his barn with another? And | born." Think, then, what a privilege it is to in religious concerns “ be not deceived; God belong to a state concerning which it is said, is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have that shall he also reap; for he that soweth to entered into the heart of man, the things his flesh, shall of the Aesh read corruption. which God hath prepared for them that love but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the him!”—Hence our Saviour teaches his disciSpirit reap life everlasting."
ples to prefer their being registered among This consideration stamps an awfulness on
the living in Jerusalem to the power and human nature; and teaches us the true im- fame of working miracles: “ Notwithstanding, portance of the present period. It is compa- in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject ratively a matter of little concern what is to unto you; but rather rejoice because your become of us, and where we shall reside, for names are written in heaven." a few weeks or years. The grand question Now, Secondly, as the Christian is allied is, Where are we to reside for ever? And to such a country, a suitable mode of living what is to become of us when the trumpet
| becomes him. A citizen of Rome could live shall sound, and all the dead, both small and elsewhere, even in any of the distant provme great, shall stand before God, and receive of ces. A citizen of heaven resides on earth for the things done in the body, whether they be a season; but he is a stranger and a foreigner. good, or whether they be evil?
Though in the world, he is not of it. And Some never afford this subject a moment's, while certain purposes detain him here, his thought. Others remain in a state of uncer. principles, his habits, and his speech, show tainty. But the primitive Christians gave all that he belongs to “a peculiar people." he diligence to make their calling and their is a citizen of glory. He prefers his fellow: election sure; and conscious of the reality of citizens. He loves to speak of the glory of their religion, and the blessedness of their his kingdom. He will correspond with it; condition, could say; “Our conversation is in and as cold water to a thirsty soul, so will heaven; from whence also we look for the good news be from this far country. His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall / body is here, and his business is here--but his change our vile body, that it may be fashioned soul is there—there is his treasure; there like unto his glorious body, according to the his inheritance; there his thoughts fix; there working whereby he is able even to subdue his affections rest; all things unto himself.” Let us consider
"There his best friends, his kindred dwell; THE CHRISTIAN'S STATE—THE CHRISTIAN'S
There God his Saviour reigns." EXPECTATION—THE CHRISTIAN'S DESTINY. He acts habitually under an impression o
I. His present STATE. It is thus expressed: 1 heaven, and with a reference to il 1 “ Our conversation is in heaven." The ori-chief care is to gain it. He often fears that ginal term is used two ways. Sometimes it he shall miss it at last ; and the apprehension signifies a certain alliance, and means citizen-stimulates his vigilance, self-examination, and ship: and sometimes it denotes a peculiar be- diligence. He concurs in the prayer, “Tay haviour. Our translators have preferred the will be done on earth, as it is done in bed ven:" he mourns over his want of conformity mind with regard to this appearance. He to the servants of God above; and is seeking looks for him. after an increase of those blessed tempers He believes his coming; and this distinand joys, which are possessed by them in all guishes him from infidels. They ask, their perfection. He is not only longing, but “Where is the promise of his coming ?" and preparing for heaven. And he is hastening having rendered it their interest that he towards it, not only as a place of release from should not come, persuade themselves that trouble, but as a state of freedom from sin, he will not. Their unbelief is the offspring and communion with God.
of their vices and their fears. But with the II. His high expectation. “Our conversa- Christian it is not a matter of opinion or contion is in heaven, from whence also we look ljecture; he does not say, He may come; but for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” He will come: and by means of that “faith
This reminds us of the present abode of which is the evidence of things not seen," our Redeemer: he is now in heaven. And he beholds him already marshaling his angels hence we need not wonder that Christians and traveling down. should have their conversation in heaven. But do not all believe this truth? It is an For he is their treasure; and where “ the invidious task to call men infidels. But suptreasure is, there will the heart be also.” pose they prove themselves so? Now we The removal of a very dear friend into an- | know from observation and experience that other neighbourhood will frequently render a belief sways the mind, and governs the conplace indifferent to us; and we change our duct. Even when our persuasion is founded residence to be near him. The death of a on our own imagination, or the testimony of delightful relation will turn a paradise into a our fellow-creatures, it produces some effect. wilderness. How often do we look up, and fol- How much more operative should be our conlow our departed connexions in our thoughts! fidence in the testimony of God, who cannot But something of them remains. The body be deceived, and who cannot lie! Now if we have laid in the grave. We go to the men live precisely like others; as bold in sin; place to weep there. We feel a propriety in as remiss in duty; can they really believe? the very dust we tread. But nothing of our Do not actions speak louder than words? Saviour remains to attach us to earth: his | The true believer therefore pays attention very body is gone from us. “I am no more," to his coming, and thus he is distinguished said he, " in the world" -a sentence sufficient from nominal Christians, who, if we must alto render the world dreary; we feel his at low that they believe it, are not influenced traction as he ascends; and "rising together by it. What we look for we prepare for in with Christ, we seek those things that are proportion as we attach importance to it. We above, where he sitteth at the right hand of prepare for the reception of a friend. How God. We set our affection on things above, much more should we prepare for the recepnot on things on the earth. For we are dead, tion of a king. But here the personage exand our life is hid with Christ in God. And pected is the King of kings; the Governor of when he who is our life shall appear, we the universe; the Judge of all ! And does shall also appear with him in glory."
the Christian, who is looking for Him, imAgain. Though our Redeemer is now in merse himself in the cares of this life? Does heaven, he will come thence. The time is he “ sleep, as do others ?" Does he play and indeed a secret: but the thing is sure. He trifle? Does he smite his fellow-servant, and does not forget his friends while he is ab- eat and drink with the drunken? No; but sent; he communicates with them, and sup-“ seeing he looks for such things, he is diliplies them: and has promised to "come gent that he may be found of him in peace, again and receive them to himself, that where without spot, and blameless." He waits with he is there they may be also." But how his « loins girded, and his lamp burning;" — Wonderful the difference between his former and “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and his future coming! Then he was seen he should live soberly, righteously, and godly of few; now “every eye shall see him.”_ in the present world," and is thus looking for Then his glory was veiled, and “the world that blessed hope, "and the glorious appearknew him not;" now we shall “ see him as ing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus he is.” Then she was despised and rejected Christ.” of men;" now he “shall come in the clouds | For, Finally, remark the character under of heaven, with all the holy angels !" Then which the Christian waits for bim: “ from he was born in a stable, and nailed to a cross; whence we look for the Saviour.” This was now " he shall sit upon the throne of his the name given him at his birth, and for the glory, and before him shall be gathered all most important of all reasons, because he nations." He was “once offered to bear the should “save his people from their sins." sins of many; and to them that look for him | This work he has not only undertaken, but will he appear the second time without sin will completely accomplish. He is coming unto salvation."
to finish it; and to fulfil all that the name Observe also the state of the Christian's imposes upon him, or implies. He will create