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deserves, will render it probable that some one or other of us will die this year.
To which I would only add, that man at his best estate is altogether vanity;--that as a flower of the field so he flourisheth: in the morning it groweth up; in the evening, and many times before noon, it is cut down and withereth. Youth has dangers peculiar to itself. Fevers and consumptions most frequently fix on sanguine. complexions, and are generally most fatal to those who have strength to make the most vigorous résistance: therefore let not the mighty man glory in his strength ; for if your bones were brass, and your sinews iron, Death's poisoned arrows would pierce them. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; for no disguises nor evasions will screen from Death's all-exposing grasp. Let not the rich man glory in his riches; for mountains of gold could not bribe him to withdraw, or so much as to withhold his uplifted hand, or for a moment suspend his clay-cold embrace. But let us all, instead of putting the evil day far from us, and deluding ourselves with the foolish and ungrounded imagination that our Lord delayeth his coming, and that, let our beha, viour be what it will, he will let us alone this year also; let us rather take it for granted, that some one or other of us shall die this year; and as we know not which, nor how many, it may be, let us consider what is the improvement we all ought to make of this alarming consideration.
I. Let us not be over-much affected at any of the occurrences of this dying life.
It is equally an argument of stupidity and folly, to be moved at every thing and to be moved at
nothing. In the former case, our hearts too much resemble a feather; in the latter, a stone. A total insensibility towards external things has been often pretended to, but never attained; and if it had, it ought not to be boasted of, as it is very far from being a perfection. There are relations, towards which to be indifferent were to be unnatural ; and there are comforts, for which if we do not serve the Lord with cheerfulness and gladness of heart, we are not grateful as we ought to be to the Giver of them. But, then, since these relations and comforts are variable and perishing, we should let our “ moderation be known unto all men.” This is the use which the Apostle makes of this observation : “ But, this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world as not abusing it : for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1 Cor. vii. 29.) Which words are not designed to eradicate natural affections, to destroy property, or put a stop to worldly business; but only to moderate our affections, and to caution us against setting our hearts too much upon the most endearing and endeared relations, or most admired possessions. Would not all the world condemn the folly of a traveller, who should be transported at every gewgaw that strikes his eye in the place through which he passes, or where, at longest, he stays but a night? And what are we; bụt strangers and sojourners in a world where we have to continuing city; and what better thaą
gewgaws and vanity are earth's most substantial enjoyments ?-though, were they never so valuable, considering the shortness of our stay in the present state, it were folly to be too eager in the pursuit, or too secure in the possession of them. If the things we doated on were durable and permanent; if we had a prospect of living to the age of Methuselah, to enjoy them; our fondness would be more excusable: but to clasp about objects with inordinate desire, which we are assured we must be speedily plucked away from; to set our affections on things which, for aught we know, may be taken from us to-morrow, or we may be taken from them to-day; is only to make the parting more difficult, and to give a keener poignancy to the agonies of death. And for the same reason that we should rejoice as though we rejoiced not in the acquisition of worldly goods, we should weep as though we wept not at the loss of them. If death robs us of our enjoyments, it puts an end to our sufferings
I am speaking now to Christians, whose happiness lies beyond this world, and who have treasures Jaid up where accidents, losses, disappointments, and vexations, are known no more at all.--Christians have, undoubtedly, better motives to patience, and nobler springs of consolation, than merely the shortness of life; but yet, it is no inconsiderable relief to a soul weary and faint, that has been long struggling under burthens hard to be borne-I say, it is a very considerable relief, that it will not be always thus. •I can live but a few years more, at most ; perhaps I. may die this year'; and then all tears shall be wiped away from my eyes, and I
shall live disengaged from worldly incumbrances, and secure from worldly spite. I shall live in a world whence sorrow and sighing shall flee away for ever. Why art thou cast down then, O my soul?-thy afflictions are but for a moment. The cross that is laid upon me is, indeed, a heavy one ; and the pain it gives me is so great, that I have been sometimes tempted to say, “Never was sorrow like unto my sorrow :" but this is my comfort, I have not far to carry it; perhaps before the sun has run out half his annual period I may have got to my goal, my warfare may be accomplished, and God may have graciously given me a discharge from a state of perpetual uneasiness and danger.'
Let this consideration check all excesses of joy or sorrow ; let it teach us a greater disinterestedness and indifference to the concerns of time. Let us pot admit these so near our hearts as to make them essential to our happiness; but always consider the comforts of life as things which we may live without, as things which we hold by the most precarious tenure, and which our duty obliges us cheerfully to give up the moment they are called for: and then, in the day of prosperity we shall rejoice, and in the day of adversity consider; and in both possess such an evenness of mind as shall convince the world that we have other and higher expectations, and that we are looking for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
2. Whatever our hand findeth to do, let us do it 'with all our might.
We have no time to lose : perhaps a very small part of this newly-begun year 'may be all the time
allowed us to gather manna enough to subsist upon for eternity— Yes; eternity depends on our present diligence or sloth.
What are all the petty enjoyments of time, about which a mistaken world affects such an air of hurry and concern! How impertinent and trifling the inquiries, 66 What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed ?" which yet are made with the most anxious solicitude, and engross the attention of the generality of mankind !-I say, how mean and unworthy is it, to employ all our concern upon the cares or pleasures of this life, and never to inquire, “ what we shall do to be saved,” “ what good thing we shall do that we may inherit eternal life!"-Surely, if we did but seriously consider the nature and worth of the future blessedness; and were thoroughly acquainted with our own hearts, and their absolute unpreparedness for entering upon it; we should need nothing more to convince us how necessary it is, that what we do, we should do quickly. The happiness of heaven is too important to be hazarded on the dreadful peradventure of human life: and to prepare for it, is a work of too much difficulty to be delayed to the hurry and distraction of a dying hour. Alas! Death may be in such haste when he comes, as not to allow you time even for a hasty Lord have mercy: and it will be sad indeed, if there should be any allowed defect, any essential omission then. To say, I intended to repent after I had finished such an engagement that lay upon my hands; I had resolved to reform if I had lived a little longer; I was thinking about joining myself to the Lord in a perpetual covenant never to be forgotten: I was