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which 'hope paints its visions, and the bright colors in which it sets them. It is a scene of earthly joy which our imagination is describing. We are filling up the prospect of the coming year with hours of comfort and peace, and with days of prosperity. There are no clouds about that earthly horizon, as hope presents it; and an imagination under the tutelage of hope troubles us with no dreams of coming sorrow, anxiety or painful changes. Now, my brethren, it cannot be denied that there is a degree of pleasure connected with many of those mental hallucinations to which men are exposed, during which reasai: is dethroned, and yet we always pity their subject as wholly unfitted, as well for the duties as the joys of real life; and who cannot see that however delightful to the mind may be the visions of a deceitful hope, there is an evil connected with its uncontrolled influence? Who cannot see that it must unfit us to meet any of those changes, those thousand nameless kontingencies, which sober reason tells us must help to make up the future, as they have furnished the materials of the history of the past. Who, at least, cannot see its vanity, in view of one great event which we know to be certain, and which, yet, we are apt to throw entirely out of all our calculations ? And, if I call your attention to that event to-day, it is only to nender effective my wishes for your good. If I throw upon the canvass before you, in strong colors, death, in some of its most interesting associations, it is because that is an event whose certainty no earthly hope can destroy, whose rapidly approaching steps it cannot cause to linger, though it may tend to unfit us wholly for its experience. It is, then, with a view of preparing you for a higher, nobler, greater good, than any wbich your most rational, enlarged and sanguine
earthly hopes contemplate, that I call you to-day to ponder, for a few moments, the message which the Son of God sends to each one of us—“Behold I come quickly.” If the influence of the theme is salutary, we will dwell upon it, though its relations may be painful; if the draught which our physician mingles for us gives us the promise of returning health, we will drink it how. ever bitter or nauseous it may be to the taste.
My subject, then, this morning, is death—and my object is to set it before you, in some of those aspects and associations which belong to it, and in the light of which it is calculated to exert a healthful moral influence over the mind.
It is far from my purpose, my brethren, to endeavor to establish the proposition that we must die—I would not insult your understanding by such an argument-are you not every day treading upon the dust of generations who have gone before you? Have you in your minds no remembrance and on your persons no emblems of mourning for friends whose eyes your own hands have closed ? Has not disease already more than once shattered your own frames, and made you sigh over the
elements of death at work within yourselves ? No, my brethren, we shall not undertake the proof of a proposition already so firmly established. And yet, though we may not deny it, we are certainly apt to forget it; or, if we do not forget it, we look upon it as a mere isolated fact, separate entirely from all those connexions and results which alone give it power over the human mind. Practically, death is a forceless thing; and we too frequently live as though Providence had given us a dispensation from its experience, and rendered us invulnerable to the shaft which must pierce every other bosom ; or, to say the very least, we give the subject in our minds too little importance; neglect its application to ourselves, and act by it, as though familiarity with it had entirely changed its aspect, and taken away from it all its solemn relations and consequences. It is my business, then, to remind you of it; to secure for it your attentive consideration, in those views of it, which give to it its importance, and invest it with interest to man. · I. The first thought then upon which I would fix your minds, is the most obvious; death, is to separate us from this world, change our mode of existence, and break up all our present associations. There is, my brethren, an instinctive attachment to life, which God for the wisest purposes has implanted in our natures. We shrink back at once, no less from the thought than from the hour of our dissolution. Death is nature's most perfeet abhorrence. There is something in the grave, the pall, and the winding sheet, something in the silence of that house appointed for all the living, something in the ravages to which our clay must submit, in the cold, damp, gloomy sepulcbre, to which we never can be reconciled. Reason about it as long, and as much as we please, we never reason away its repulsiveness, set it in whatever light, and dress it in whatever garb we may, there is still the same appalling features standing out to the view. When we speak to you of death, we speak to you of the sundering of those ties which have bound that spirit to the tabernacle which it inhabits; we speak to you of that manly and vigorous form tottering to its fall; of that countenance becoming blanched, of that eye looking for the last time upon the objects in which you delighted, and then losing its brightDess, and becoming glazed with the frosts of the tomb. No, God never meant that we should be reconciled to such thoughts and no influence can bring our feelings into harmony with such changes. Life indeed may have associations which render it insupportable, and which may drive a man to death, as a refuge from still greater evils; and the religion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it présents in clear colors the bright scenes beyond the waters, may enable us to go down into the cold waves of that stream which separates us from yonder world of light and joy—but neither the concerus of the present life, nor the hopes of the life which is to come can even reconcile us to death, as
death-God forbid that they should do so, they should convert the tenants of this earth into suicides, and the world which they inherit into a charnel house.
It is not, however, a mere feeling of nature, which binds us. to our present mode of existence. We are here living in a scene of constant excitement, as our thoughts and affections are engaged with the objects by which we are surrounded. We have our plads, our enterprizes and our hopes. What living man has not some link to bind him to this world—some association amid which be wishes to muse-some object which makes present existence desirable ?. We have formed our schemes, it may be, for earthly aggrandizement, and we are engaged in their execntion; or we are busy with our plans which contemplate earthly honors as their results; or we are surrounding ourselves with a thousand earthly endearments, or we are mingling in scenes of joy, and painting the prospect of brighter joys to come. We know not, my brethren, how many, or how strong are the ties which bind us to this world, until they come to be sundered. But we shall very soon know, Whatever may be our plans, whatever the stage of their progress, death will terminate them; it will break up all our earthly associations however tender and interesting, and dissolve all our connections, shut us out from all these scenes, and put an extinguisher upen all these bright hopes.
The termination of any course of pleasurable action is pain. ful; the last hour spent in familiar scenes, the last sight of objects upon which we have been wont to dwell with delight, always stirs up emotions of deep regret, even when we hope our separation from these scenes and objects is not to be
perpetual, how much more painful must our feelings be when our adieu is an eternal one-when with our heads upon our dring pillow, we shall be forced to think, that yonder sun which has shone upon our pathway, shall to us, rise no more ; our voice shall no more be heard among our fellows; the pursuits of time no more engage our attention, but while we are shut out from human view, the current of affairs shall run on as ever, and men shall tread upon our sepulchres, not knowing, or forgetting that we have ever been. It shall be so to all of us Death will work out the demonstration of all I utter,
And yet these are the most unimportant and least interesting associations of the event, which we are now called to ponder. There is a connection between the present and the future, as there has been the past and the present, Life is but the first stage of our being ; the second has yet to come, now but rehearsing the parts, which we are hereafter to act in an eternal scene. Conscience no less distinctly forebodes a judgment, than do the analogies of things foretell a future. This life, therefore, is not only the stepping stone to another, but the scene of preparation for it. Here are to be formed
characters which are there to be confirmed : here we are to authorize actions, which are there to be punished or rewarded, We do not stop to prove this point, the evidence of which is so clear and strong in every man's bosom, that he can neither escape nor stifle it.
Taking this view of life, death is a subject of intensely interesting thought to us, whatever may be our character and relations. If so far as our own personal interests are concerned, we are ready to abide its issues, so that death will not extinguish our hopes and blot out our joys; yet it will bring to a close all our opportunities of earthly usefulness. The very nature which God has given us shows most clearly, that be never designed we should live for ourselves exclusively. The social principle of our being, as it prevents men from occupying entirely isolated positions, brings them within circles of reciprocal influence. Every member of society acts upon some other member of society, and when God converts a man, he consecrates his social influence to sanctified ends. The constitution of society, as God has announced it, is wonderfully evincive of his wisdom. Religion breaks up no natural associations, and sunders no natural ties. It is easy to perceive that if a line, a palpable line of separation, were drawn between the religious and irreligious, if the order of society was such, that the moment a man became a Christian, all his connections must be dissolved, and new ones, purely religious in their character, formed, not only should the influence of the Gospel keep society in a state of constant revolution, and change, but the circle of religious influence 'sbould be very much circumscribed. As it is, "the salt of the earth” is much more generally diffused than at first sight we might imagine it to be. The line of spiritual separation runs through the nearest and dearest relationships of buman life—human beings are linked together by the strongest ties of blood, affection and interest, who spiritually stand at a great remove from each other-whose sympathy mingle upon every other subject, save this one of religion. Were it otherwise, as in all probability it should have been, had the circumstances of men been of our artanging, we can see that the opportunities of Christian influence and usefulness had been very much diminished in 'number. Now there is not one of us for whom God has not opened channels in which his influence may run, and to whom he has not given opportunities for usefulness. There 'is' not, probably, a single Cliristian whose relations do not furnish him with an ample field for Christian enterprise. And how, if we are the true disciples of the Son of God, dan we be otherwise than thankful under the influence of the thougbt, that scarcely a day passes without 'furnishing us with some opportunity of doing good!
Bat,'my brethren, deathi is, in this respect, to change our circumstances. Then all our influence is gone, as we are re
moved from the sphere in which alone it can find room for play; and if there is anything which can embitter death to a child of God, when he may be confident of his own personal safety, it is the thought, that as he departs, he is leaving bebind him some whom he loves, and whose state reproves his owu unfaithfulness, and whom he must meet again, and whom he may meet at the judgment seat, unreconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
But, my brethren, if it should be otherwise with ourselves, so that we are not able, personally, to abide the issues of this trying hour, then death comes to blot out all our hopes, and to extinguish all our joys. It is so, because, now, and here, under the influence of the Gospel, the arrangement of Providence, and the dispensation of the Spirit, we may prepare for the world which is to come. No man who is out of Christ would ever disparage his present circumstances, by a comparison of them with a world of retribution. He feels that now there is hope, which then there will not be, and if his mind has anything like correct views of his position and relations, he can enter into the meaning of the poet as he sings
" While God invites, how blest the day,
How sweet the Gospel's charming sound."
sun, as it
But do we not know that death will change this scene. Are not our very circumstances, as they define our probation, constantly heralding their own change? Does not every Sabbath's
ses and sets upon us, tell us of the time when it shall rise and set no more? Oh! what a wonderous change will death make in a sinner's position. The light of this holy day, which speaks of hope, never breaks in upon the darkness of the sepulchre; nor does the voice of mercy's messenger interrupt its silence; nor do the movements of the Spirit disturb its deep repose ; all that the human mind, in such a state, after death knows of hope, is embraced in the recollection of its former brightness and promise; all that it knows of means of grace and recovering influence, is found in the memory of their abuse and rejection.
While death thus blots out all the hopes of the unbeliever, it at the same time extinguishes all his joys. The facts upon the subject of human happiness in this world, are precisely the reverse of what we should have supposed they should be, reasoning solely from the character of God in ignorance of his plans and purposes. The actually existing state of things has more than once staggered human faith. "As for me," said the Psalmist,“ my feet had well nigh slipped, when I beheld the prosperity of the wicked.” It is not to be denied, that sinful man bas many enjoyments in this world. It is perfectly idle to say, as we look over a festive circle and see the cheerful