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with which the enjoyments of home fill you; how at such seasons the hopefulness of youth is more especially called into exercise. It is the condition of your age habitually to be looking forward, to think of the pleasures which the future may have in store for you. I speak not only of mere passing pleasures, but the most manly and active minded among you must often be looking forward to the pursuits of after life, to the duties which you may be called on to perform, and to the fruit which the performance of them brings with it. And this anticipation must be the more frequent and the more lively in proportion to your age, your characters, and to the circumstances of your friends: it will be most strongly felt by those who are nearest to actual life, whose tempers are most sanguine and their minds most opened, and whose rank and circumstances are such as to make the part which they may hope to act in the world more than commonly inviting. These feelings are indeed sobered by sickness; a very few days' illness, if the disease be of an alarming character, will completely overset all the airy castles that in health we are so fond of raising. It is like an eclipse which brings on at once and prematurely the soberness and the stillness of night. But where there was not even this to sober them, where they were arrested in a moment by the consciousness of death, a consciousness which, however short may be its
duration, yet probably never fails to make itself distinctly felt when our last hour is really comeit is difficult to imagine any thing more awful than the contrast thus exhibited.
In both these respects then, as far as regards the effect of death on the body and on the mind, I know not how it could have come in a more awful form than it did to him whom we have lost. I need not dwell upon what must be so fresh in all our memories, how little he looked like a person who was so soon to be cut off, how fair a promise of long and brilliant and useful life both his person and his mind afforded us. I could have hardly named amongst our whole number any one with whom the thought of early death was less naturally associated. But God's thoughts are not as our thoughts, and we have here brought home to us, within our own knowledge, and before our sight, the truth of what we hear so often, and hear unmoved when it is at a distance,-that our life is as a vapour which appeareth for a little while and then vanishes away. It is a most solemn object brought before us in its most solemn form, as if specially appointed to serve as a lesson to us.
But you will feel that I have not, that I cannot yet have said all. I have spoken of the solemnity of death coming so suddenly and so unforeseen upon a body so young and healthful, and on a mind so active and spring-like. It is solemn to
see earthly prospects so quickly cut off,-to see what was a little while ago so promising, now nothing. But the subject might have been one which, with all its solemnity, and capable, as I think it, of being made so useful to you, I yet could not have dared to touch upon. It might have been not only solemn, but horrible; it might have presented a picture to which I could not have called your eyes, nor turned my own; and it is a matter of most deep joy, of most sincere and earnest thanksgiving, that it is not so.
I am sure you know what I mean. Had this stroke, so sudden as it was, fallen upon one of the same age who had never given any signs of living in the fear of God; or, worse, who had given positive signs that he was not living in it; or one who had lived in hard heartedness, doing ill himself and encouraging it in others, hating good, and trying to make others hate it also; on one habitually idle and selfish, neglectful of the wishes and feelings of his parents, unkind or dishonest in his dealings with his companions, false in his dealings with his teachers, and in his general conduct profane, perhaps given to drunkenness, perhaps to uncleanness; how would it have been possible to have brought before you the subject of such a person's sudden death? With the dreadful certainty of his fate so plain before us, could we have borne, would it have been good for us, to contemplate it? But thank God with me, that in the
case of him who is actually gone from us, there are no such horrible considerations as these. I may not, and need not, go into details; but I had the happiness of hearing such particulars of him during the short remaining period of his life after he returned home from this place, as may afford a solid ground for hope that here also God's dispensations have been full of mercy, and that in cutting off our companion so early from all the pleasures and duties of this life, He has but taken him to Himself, to be with Christ for ever safe and happy.
He is safe, but we are yet in danger; and here is the great consideration for us all. He is safe from those temptations against which we have still to struggle; and would that we all felt as we should do the blessedness of that safety; for though not yet ours, yet it may be so hereafter. We may attain to it as surely as he has reached it actually. A blessed state indeed it is, when we feel what a conflict is now hourly besetting us, and how we can never dare to rest but for a moment without adding to our danger. Yet Christ will bring us to it in His own good time, if we bear our present struggle as becomes His soldiers,— bravely yet humbly, striving earnestly ourselves, but with our trust not in what we can do, but in what He has done for us.
February 19, 1832.
THE SIGN OF THE PROPHET JONAH.
ST. MATTHEW, xii. 38.
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
THE words are put somewhat more fully in other parts of the Gospel, where it says that they sought a sign from heaven: a sign, that is, in the sky; a bright light shining from one end of the heavens to the other, and in this light some form to be seen, some words to be spoken, which every eye and every ear must acknowledge to come from God. Send us such a sign, they said, and then we will at once believe that thou art the Christ.
In every age, and perhaps more so as the world grows older, men's hearts are apt to utter the same wish. I do not mean, of course, that we utter it when we are very busy, or when we are