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in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, and to be holy and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke :-if such as these dare not trust to their own performances, but place all their hopes in being “ found in Christ, not having on their own righteousness ;" how deplorable must be their case, who are dragged to God's bar naked and defenceless, with no righteousness of their own to produce, no interest in the righteousness of Christ, not a word to say for themselves, and no kind Intercessor to say a word for them! Who can wonder, if those unhappy wretches, in the wildness of their despair, should “call to the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and hide them from the presence of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb !"But, alas! rocks and mountains will be as deaf to their calls then, as they are now to the calls of an inviting Saviour; and the justly offended King will say to his servants, “ Take them, and bind them hand and foot, and cast them into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Now, “ consider this, ye that forget God ; lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.” “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
To conclude.—As the subject we have been considering is, of infinite and universal consequence; as we are all of us entrusted with talents, with which we are to occupy till he come; as one and another of our fellow-servants are almost daily
called upon to give an account of their respective improvements; and as we know not which of us shall be next summoned to appear before God; “ let us lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envies, and evil-speakings:” and the more imperfections we discern in others, “ let us give the more diligence, that we may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless,"
These words were first spoken to Hananiah, as a judgment upon him for contradicting the message which the Lord had sent to the people by Jeremiah. And it was not a threatening thrown out at random: Jeremiah did not say this in the heat of his passion, or just to revenge the affront which that false prophet had put upon him; but it was the awful and irreversible decree of that God, who. “ killeth and maketh alive:” and the death of Hananiah, within two months, fully verified it. I pretend to no such commission. I like not to be the messenger of unwelcome tidings. You seem fond of your situation, and happy—(if we may judge from the gaiety of your countenances and the general levity of your hearts and conduct) you must be quite happy, in having goods laid up for many years, an agreeable set of friends and acquaintance, a firm constitution, and none of the miseries of poverty or old age to spoil your mirth and put you in mind of dying. I would not be thought an enemy to your happiness, and by gloomy and ungrounded suppositions check your joy. “God is my witness how earnestly. I long for you all in the
bowels of the Lord Jesus ;” and that “it is my heart's desire and prayer to God for you,” that you may live for ever.
I am bound, by numerous obligations, to form the tenderest wishes for your health and prosperity. If your situation in life be easy and comfortable ; and you can satisfy yourselves, for the sake of earth's flimsy enjoyments,
to be so long out of heaven ; or, rather, if length of days would be for your real comfort and advantage; may God Almighty add many future years to your life, and crown every returning year with new marks of goodness. But, surely it cannot be resented as unkind, or unfriendly, to remind you,
your breath is in your nostrils ; that, firm a's your mountain may seem to stand, it shall one day be moved; that no man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit, neither hath he power in the day of death ; that it is appointed to all men once to die; that of that day and hour knoweth no man, so that as a snare it shall come upon all them that dwell upon the earth.-I presume not to say to any one, “ This year thou shalt die;" but I will venture to say to everyone, This year thou mayest die: and the very possibility of an event of such importance to our everlasting state, ought not to be received with indifference. To think, that, before the end of this year, my eyes may be closed on this world for ever; that my body may be rotting with the dust of my ancestors ; and my soul fixed, unalterably fixed, for eternity fixed
my soul! if I should die this year, where wouldst thou be fixed ? — I say, the possibility that such a thing may happen, and this important change take place before the next annual return of this
day, must necessarily affect us, if we think at all, and make us serious—for a moment, at least, serious.
But it will be more affecting still, if we consider that such a thing is not only possible, but probable. It can hardly be imagined, sanguine as we are in our prospects of life, and forward as every one is to put the evil day far from himself, yet it can hardly be imagined, that we shall all of us ever meet again on such an occasion. This may be the last NewYear's sermon that I may live to preach, or the last that you may live to hear; and, when the next is preached in this place, survivors may drop a tear over many empty seats.
But you ask, “What authority have I thus to alarm and terrify you ?" I answer: As I said before, I pretend to no extraordinary revelation ; I affect not to have looked into the book of God's decrees, and to know who shall next be numbered amongst the dead : and I would by no means have this discourse looked upon as a peremptory declaration of mine to particular persons; but as a seasonable warning of Providence to us all. However, that you may not think such a warning altogether groundless, suffer me very briefly to hint at the following facts :
I. The last year carried off many.
The retrospect may be painful; but it may be profitable too. It may seem cruel to call up the ghosts of our departed joys, and set on busy recollection to torment us; but it will more than compensate for all we may suffer, if we are thereby more feelingly convinced, that “ here we have no continuing city,” and prevailed with to seek one to, come