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up serious thoughts. The Spirit applies the truth to the conscience, and the sinner says in his heart and by his looks, "I am unprepared." Hence the effect which we sometimes see in large congregations. Men feel that they would give all the world for religion, and are led to ask our prayers, and induced to seek salvation.
3. When suffering under the bereavements of Providence. There is something peculiar in affliction to break down the pride of the heart. It will lead us to receive consolation from any one, however low and humble. It causes us to feel differently toward the Bible and prayer. When we visit the grave, we cannot but think on mortality and immortality, and reflect on the lot of the departed in the other world. We are led to ask, What will be my destiny? Then, under the deep impression of the eternity of our existence, we feel our need. How often have our friends and God been witnesses to the vows then made!
4. When in apparent danger. When pestilence walketh abroad, how are the pursuits of men changed! How great the seriousness when the cholera was among us! How little did many care for the world! “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." So in a thunder-storm the gay turn pale as death. Sailing parties have become praying circles. How different in all these scenes is the saint from the sinner! And what makes the difference?
5. When called to die. Generally "all dissimulation is then at an end," and pride yields to the awfulness of the scene. The soul, if fully awake, feels and declares its wants, and reproaches its past actions. It asks for prayer and instruction. Its language is, Give me of your oil; for my lamp has gone out. Hence infidels have changed their views in death. Their need is fully open before them, and their requests are urgent. I wish I could carry you to death-beds which I have visited.
II. The necessity of making this preparation now.
In regard to other things you are wise; not so in regard to religion. God has given you the power of foreseeing your wants, and of providing for them. You prepare for winter, for age, but not for death and eternity. We entreat, and warn, and beg, but you neglect. You send for us when life is waning, and the soul departing, but then it is often too late!
1. You know not how soon God will call you. This is a trite, but weighty remark. You admit it, but do not practise on the admission. How numerous are casualties and diseases! You see death claiming all ages, but are you not presuming on many days? If you knew when death would come, would you not prepare? There is more reason you should do so, as you do not know. Mark xiii, 35, 36. Your want of preparation will neither prevent nor delay his coming. How awful to be unprepared!
How shocking must thy summons be, O death!
2. This preparation may now be made. You may be sensible of your wants now; to-morrow the Spirit may have gone. You may enter now; to-morrow the door may be shut. You have health and reason now; to-morrow they may have left you. You know that the present moment alone is yours for this great work. O! how many die with a lie on their lips-how many with convictions! But I may press the subject no longer. I feel for you, and would induce you to act. Well may I feel for you, with my belief-my Bible-my love for you-my frequent witnessing of the mortality of my race.
THUS SAITH THE LORD, SET THY HOUSE IN ORDER FOR THOU SHALT DIE, AND NOT LIVE.-Isaiah Xxxviii, 1.
FOR every event we need preparation. In the order of Providence times of preparation are afforded us, as the seasons of the year, and the different periods of life. Many of the failures in the enterprises of men may be attributed to a want of preparation. In proportion to the greatness of the event is preparation requisite. Death is the most important event connected with life, as it is the closing one, and one which immediately precedes that state of existence which is unalterable and eternal. I propose to consider the preparation which is necessary. And I would here remark, that I address those who believe firmly in the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and a future state of rewards and punishments, as revealed in the Bible: these topics will be passed over, though they lie at the foundation of all I have to say.
I. An assurance of our personal acceptance with God through Jesus Christ.
The natural condition of man is enmity against God. Now when we consider the revealed character of God, we must admit that we are unprepared to meet him. We are to know also that should we appear before him in our state of enmity, we shall be clothed in sin and guilt, and have no excuse to make; we are to know that God hates sin, and that there will be then nothing to prevent his wrath, our day of mercy having passed. We must feel that we are reconciled and renewed; that we love God, and have Christ for our righteousness. Learn this from the death of sinners. Nor will faint hopes and evidences suffice. Death will fearfully try our strength, and we
shall need the strongest proof to make us resigned and happy. Learn this from the death of unfaithful saints.
II. An assurance that we have answered the great purpose of our earthly existence.
The great object of life is to love God, and do his will. Whenever we have done, to the utmost, the will of God, we may say that the object of life is accomplished, and that we are prepared for heaven. Nor does it matter, in this view of life, whether it be long or short.
"That life is long, which answers life's great end."
Summerfield might have done all that God required of him; would you have prevented his removal to a higher and holier sphere? And who is willing to go down to the grave with the feeling that his life has been wastedthat nothing laudable has been done? See the infidel at the moment of death abandon his unbelief! the impenitent commence repenting! the unjust making restitution! the careless begging his friend not to do as he has done! the Christian asking forgiveness of his wife, children, and friends, for not having set them a better example-for not having warned them! O death-beds, what tales ye tell! Why all this? Because conscience reproves-the duties. of life have not been discharged-and the soul must thus go, or summon every effort for action. O! what a task for any one, to accomplish life's great object in his dying strife! Let me feel, when I shall come to die, that all has been done, for it will be quite enough for me to contend with death!
III. A Scriptural hope that Christ will be with us in our last hour.
Death is a dark and billowy stream, through which man cannot safely pass alone. His friends can only stand on the bank. Nature fails as he descends and dips his foot. Who will hold up his head? Who introduce him to the
group on the further shore? None but Christ. Remember, too, that we must meet death under every natural disadvantage. Go into yonder sick chamber, and gaze upon that fragile form. Disease was long since commissioned by death to commence the fatal attack, and unI tiringly is it performing its allotted task. Already is every muscle relaxed, and every nerve unstrung. The whole system trembles like a tottering tower. That is the combatant who is to enter the lists with the king of terrors! Does he not labour under great disadvantages?
See that pallid countenance distorted with pain! those heavy, sunken eyes, dejected by distress! that emaciated body, convulsed with agony! But ah! that short, panting breath tells the unequal contest, and the certain end. Exhausted nature, never so tired before, desires a moment's respite. But those lifeless limbs, those cold, cold hands, assure us that death has already taken the outposts, and with a hasty march is approaching the citadel of life. Thither the forces are collected for the last painful struggle.
The battle is renewed. Nature gathers all her resources, puts forth all her efforts; but they are too weak for death! The last blow is struck! One protracted, fearful struggle, one convulsive spasm, one parting breath and dying gasp, and all is over! Those big drops, which so thickly overspread that nerveless brow, proclaim death the conqueror of the body!
I very often anticipate this struggle, and with very peculiar feelings. I know it will be hard and desperate. This spirit will never leave its earthly tabernacle without a conflict. The last gasp-the last groan-the giving up of the ghost who can describe them? I wish to meet the struggle! For were it left to me this afternoon to decide, whether I would go to heaven in a chariot of fire, like the prophet of old, or through the grave, like my Re