Page images

“ or what shall a man give in exchange for his “ soul ?"_Yet are not some present convicted by their own consciences, that they are hazarding all these irreversible and awful consequences, by procrastinating in the concerns of their souls from month to month, and year to year, for the sake of such things as are most trifling and transitory? and is this the conduct of rational creatures ?

4. Were that happiness or misery which the Bible reveals, though eternal, yet imperfect and mixed; this might somewhat account for the infatuation of leaving the event in suspense till some craving lust was gratified. But the whole extent and force of human language is employed, and labours, and is exhausted, in representing the absolute and unmixed felicity of heaven, and misery of hell. All that man is, or ever shall become, capable of enjoying; and consequently all that God can bestow upon him ; and all that his powerful wrath can inflict on the immortal spirit and incorruptible body to eternity ; are now depending : the important decision is at hand. Need I say, Be ready? I need not, if men's eyes were not “ blinded by the god of this world.”

5. Even our comfortable enjoyment of life greatly depends on being prepared for death. Who can relish the feeble pleasure which temporal things are capable of communicating, with this thought corroding his heart: I may die this night, this hour: I am totally unprepared: it is therefore possible that before another hour I may lift up my eyes in hell ?' And though more pleasing and welcome thoughts commonly thrust out this salutary reflection, yet it will sometimes

intrude even in the vigour of health, in the midst of company, and in scenes of mirth and dissipation; and, like some dire spectre, it will be sure to haunt the hour of distress, and the bed of sickness, or to mingle with whatever reminds us of death and judgment. But how must it enhance our comforts, and mitigate our sorrows, and deliver us from the fear of death, to“ know that, when “ this earthly house of our tabernacle shall be dis“ solved, we have a building of God, a house not “ made with hands, eternal in the heavens !"

6. Nor can our judgment of our situation in reference to eternal things fail to have a powerful influence on our conduct. He, who judges, or fears, that he is unfit for death, and yet neglects or postpones a thorough preparation, must and will shun solitude and reflection, and endeavour to silence the voice of conscience. Hence a perpetual hurry of business or diversions : and hence, when these are found too feeble effectually to free a man from the torment of thinking, he takes refuge in debauchery or infidelity. Thus guilt accumulates, and “ wrath is treasured up against the day of “ wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment “ of God.” But the well grounded hope of salva. tion arms the soul as with a helmet; keeps it steady as an anchor; inspires courage and resolution to labour, venture and suffer for Christ; infuses sweetness into religious exercises, and ren

ders the soul “ steadfast, unmoveable, always • “abounding in the work of the Lord, as knowing .“ that his labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

7. Finally, at the approach of death many have grievously lamented the neglect of preparation ;

none ever lamented having been too diligent in preparing. Many have lamented their inattention to the gospel, to the means of grace, and to the concerns of eternity: but none everat that time lament that they have missed opportunities of gratifying their appetites, frequenting amusements, and taking worldly pleasure. Pious Christians often mourn, at that solemn period, lost opportunities of service, unimproved talents, unfruitfulness, and negligence: but none regret having renounced the world, denied themselves, borne their cross, laboured for Christ, and minded “the one thing “ needful.” When standing on the verge of both worlds, if not before, men begin to form a more proper estimate of their comparative value. Let us profit by their judgment; and now employ ourselves as they wish they had, or rejoice that they did : then shall we indeed be ready also.

· I am persuaded, brethren, that many of you have all along perceived that I chose this subject with reference to the death of the late Dr. Conyers, of Deptford, an honoured, able, and useful minister of the gospel. - From authentic information you will probably be gratified and edified ere long, with a variety of interesting particulars respecting his character, life and death. But this is not my province: it is enough for my purpose to observe, that last Lord's day morning he was so far in health as to perform the service in his parish church. In the second lesson, (which was the xxth chapter

" All but the Communion Service, which was read by his Curate.

of Acts,) having solemnly pronounced the words

“And now, behold, I know that ye all, among “ whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of “ God, shall see my face no more: wherefore I “ take you to record this day, that I am pure from “ the blood of all men; for I have not shunned to “declare unto you all the counsel of God;" he pauscd ; applied the words to his own ministry among those present; and appealed to their consciences that he had thus discharged his trust, and was pure from their blood, whatever might be their present conduct, or their future doom. Then he proceeded, preached, concluded, or was concluding, the blessing, when he was suddenly taken ill, and (not to dwell on circumstances not fully authenticated,) died before three o'clock that afternoon! Without doubt this event was to him inexpressibly glorious and joyful. If we except the case of those who concluded and sealed their testimony with their blood, shed in confirmation of the truth they preached; we cannot conceive a minister dying more in character, or more honourably: like a soldier falling sword in hand, valiantly defending his country. “Let me die the death of “ the righteous and let my latter end be like his.” “ Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he “ cometh shall find so doing."

But, had it been your case: should death single out you, before you leave this place of worshipwhat would be the consequence? The providence of God joins issue with his word, and loudly pro- claims, “Be ye ready also.” And are you ready? Do you start ? Does conscience declare that you

are not ready? What an awful situation had you now been in, had the God, in whose hand is your life, called you instead of his ready servant! Oye gay, ye thoughtless, ye who are dreaming vain dreams of earthly felicity, on the very verge of eternal misery, pause, reflect ! “Let your laughter “ be turned into mourning, and your joy into “ heaviness !” “Awake thou that sleepest, and “ arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee 6 light!” “Let the wicked forsake his way and “ the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him “ return unto the Lord, and he will (yet) have “mercy upon him, and to our God for he will “ abundantly pardon.” But it must be without delay: “ you must seek the Lord while he may be “ found.” “Behold now is the accepted time: “ behold now is the day of salvation !” Therefore to-day, if ye will hear his voice harden not your “ hearts," lest to-morrow should be too late, and he should “swear in his wrath, that you shall never “enter into his rest.” And you must address yourselves to this business with all earnestness : “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many “ will seek to enter in, and shall not be able :" L" When once the Master of the house hath risen “ up, and hath shut to the door ; and ye begin to “stand without, and knock, saying, Lord, Lord, “ open to us! and he shall answer, and say unto “ you, I know ye not whence ye are—then shall “ be weeping, and gnashing of teeth.” That this may not be your case, return home, I beseech you ; retire; and, on your bended knees, supplicate him, who is yet on a throne of grace, and “exalted

« PreviousContinue »