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Now, the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. Every sense has an appropriate object in nature; and every sense, like the busy insect, is seeking to derive its sweets from the flowers that our fallen world still presents. Unquestionably there is much gratification to be derived from objects of sense. The grand and variegated face of nature feasts our eyes. The melody of music, whether in the warbling of the groves, or in welltuned instruments played by the skilful musicians, de. lights the ear, and soothes the mind. The rich perfumes of nature regale one sense, and the luscious sweets gratify another. But as old age or infirmity advances upon us, man becomes less sensible of such enjoyments; and when death comes, it causes them to vanish away.
2. Death creates an eternal separation from all our ordinary avocations in life. i How busy are the tribes of flesh and blood under the sun! The employments which occupy them, are various as the tastes, and ranks, and necessities of men. But busy, busy, they generally are in pursuit of science, opulence, independence, or competence. "Alas! many of them walk in a vain show. They disquiet themselves in vain. They heap up riches with intense anxiety, and yet they know not who shall inherit them. Their heir may be a fool or a wise man; may prudently enjoy the fruit of their industry, or may scatter it with a prodigal's hand to the four winds of heaven : he may be a relative united to them by the ties of consanguinity, or an utter stranger, who scarcely knows the man whose unremitting toil has exalted him to opulence. .. . But be the pursuits of men what they may, death puts a full end to them all. In that very day, when it arrives, their thoughts, and their plans, and their employments perish.
3. Death separates us from all our friends and relations in life.
Many, and close, and endearing are our connexions in human society. We have had fathers after the flesh, whose 'wise superintendence has guided our infancy, and childhood, and youth; and we have had tender mothers, who often purchased our comfort at the expense of their own. We have had partners in life, who have been dear to us as our own soul. We have had children who have entwined themselves about our affections, till our happiness has been completely bound up in theirs. We
have had companions of youth with whom the hours of day have passed too swiftly, and from whom we have retired grudgingly to the repose of night. But does cruel death pay any deference to these fond and interesting relationships ? None! Our fathers, where are they? Our tender mothers, do they live for ever? No. The silent grave has closed upon them. The desire of our eyes, too, is cut off with a stroke. For our children we weep, and are not comforted; and the companions of our early days have abandoned us in a world where we feel alone amidst the strangers of another and an unknown generation.
4. Death closes the day in which men enjoy the means of grace.
In the believing use of these means we have now the things that concern our everlasting peace. In hearing we receive faith, and embrace with it the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and find redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins. The word
means of our conversion. And in devout meditation, in fervent praise, and in commemorating the dying love of Immanuel, we grow up in meelness for the inheri. tance of the saints in light. But when death comes, man's opportunities are for ever ended. The voice of God, beseeching men to be converted, will be heard no more. In the grave there will be no place for repentance. To the dead no pardon will be offered. As the tree falls so it lies. He that is righteous, shall be righteous still ; and be that is filthy, will be filthy still.-Rev. xxii. 11.
II. Let us contrast the righteous and the wicked at this awful period.
1. In their reflections on the past. When the wicked man turns his thoughts to the scenes through which he has past, bitterness and self-condemna-. tion must accompany every step. He has had mercies, many mercies, but he has abused them to the purposes of sin. Nourished and brought up as a child, he has re. belled against his Parent and his Prince, and every favour heightens the condemnation of his vile ingratitude. He has enjoyed the ministrations of the word of God, but these he neglected. He wishes now those golden opportunities might return, but they are gone, gone forever, and have horne their tidings of abuse to the throne of the Eternal.
Not so the righteous man, in this awful hour. He saw indeed that he was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked : refuge failed him on every side, and he fled to the hope set before him in the Gospel. In looking to Calvary, his burden of guilt fell from his oppressed heart, and peace and power were imparted to his disturbed and weary soul. Since then he has experienced deliverance from the bondage of sin, and has been kept by the power of God in the narrow way. In the ordinances of the Gospel he has been receiving good, and in the various walks of life he has been endeavouring to do good. For all that grace has done in him, and done by him, he is . unfeignedly thankful. In the testimony of an approving conscience, the spirit's work within him, he rejoices; but for acceptance he rests neither on what he has done, nor suffered, nor felt, but upon the finished work of the Lord his righteousness, his great High Priest, and his glorious King.
2. There is a wide difference between the righteous and the wicked in their present feelings.
What are the feelings of a wicked man in death. There is no peace to him in life, he is like the troubled sea that cannot rest, even when earthly comforts abound; and what must he be now, when every comfort is withered, and he is left to the horrors of a guilty conscience ? If he look upwards, he contemplates an angry God, the heat of whose displeasure drinks up his spirits. If he looks inward-darkness, doubt, and disquietude cast their gloom over him, and sink his heart to distraction. If he look around, refuge fails him on every side, nor is there a ray to shed its cheering light on the dreary scene. Perhaps, with fiend-like fierceness, he summons up his little strength to reflect upon man, or to blaspheme his Maker; and thus he lies the victim of disease, remorse, and condemnation. ; .
Not so the righteous; he can say, as we once knew & dying friend, a Christian, and a Minister, to say, when seized by illness, “My peace is made with my heavenly Father, I know that my Redeemer liveth, I know in whom I have believed, I feel him precious to me, and present with me. Though I walk through the dark valley and shadow ofdeath, I fear no evil. The Lord is with me, bis rod and staff comfort me:" or, as we have beard another saint exelaim, " The Lord is any light and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid? I am not afraid to go with Je. sus." Love beaming on the heart, casts out fear; and life, and peace, and consolation, abound through the exercise of faith in Christ Jesus, and in the ind welling of the Com. forter.
3. There is an immense difference in their future prosa pečts. . .
. : The delusive hopes that deceive the ungodly in life, gen. erally forsake them in their last hour. They are conscious they have neglected Christ, and now they have no ground to expect consolation in him. Their hearts seem now to hear the awful threatening realized, “ because I have called and ye refused, I have stretched out my hands and no man regarded ; I will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.” They rejected the witness of the Spirit, and he has now left them to dark and deep despair. They look forward to judg. ment, but it is a fearful judgment, fraught with fiery in. dignation. Hell opens to receive them at their coming; the worm that dieth not has already begun its tortures, and the fire that is not quenched is flashing with all its horrors.
Not so is it with the children of God. The hope that maketh not ashamed has cheered them in the darkest soenes of affliction in life, and its torch brightens to con, duct them through the vale of death. Cheered by its light, the people of God discover the land of pure de light. They see bright fields beyond the swellings of Jordan. They hear the melody of saints and angels, and they feel confidence, that in that happy society they are about to mingle for ever. There they feel assured the Lamb that dwells in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters, and wipe away all tears from their eyes. That there they shall hunger no more, nor thirst any more, nor shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; but that they shall “ be perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eler :
And now, our souls, what say ye to these solemn realities? We must diewe may be called soon to pass the dark valley. How is it with us in respect to a preparation for our change ? Have we sought deliverance
from condemnation in the blood of Christ, and the in: dwelling of the comforting Spirit, to fit us for a peace. ful end? If not, it is high time to awake out of sleep.
that we were wise, that we understood this, that we would consider our latter end! The fear of an unhappy end should alarm, and the hope of a happy death should allure us to arise and call upon God, who, of all tbat come to him by Christ, will assuredly cast off none. Settled on Christ as our solid foundation, and growing in conformity to him in heart and life, we may rest assured, he will not leave us, nor forsake us in our last hour. When we pass through the waters, he will be with us; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow us; but we shall die the death of the righteous, and our last end shall be lite his. . .. A PRAYER ADAPTED TO THIS ESSAY.
O THOU, who art from everlasting to everlasting, condescend to hear, whilst we thy frail dying creatures, present ourselves at thy footstool. Our earthly pleasures fade away like the flower of the field. O grant us the unchanging joy thy favour gives to thy children. We must soon, at thy command, resign all our worldly avocations. O give us grace to work the work of him that sent us, while it is called to-day. Our dearest friends forsake us: 0 take us under thy care, and be to us our eterpal Friend. Our means and opportunities for knowing, loving, and enjoying thee, quickly pass away : O help us to employ them, that we may be wise unto salvation.
O God enable us to live to thy glory, and save us from the bitter reflections arising from a mispent life. Save us in our last bour from the darkness, disquietude, and distraction of the wicked ; and let us then feel that the Lord is with us, whilst his rod and staff do comfort us. · Give us an unshaken reliance upon the finished work and almigbty power of the Redeemer : give us the constant enjoyment of the witness of the Holy Ghost : give us the light of that hope which shines upon thy people from heaven : and those strong consolations that are de. rived from thy covenant of truth and mercy. Guide and guard us through life, and mercifully and powerfully sustain us in the hour of death, through Jesus Christ our liard-to whom, with the Father, and the eternal Spirit, be glory for ever. --Amen.