Page images
PDF
EPUB

come of the blessed inmates of our heavenly home. Then shall we be prepared to say in the words and in the spirit of the author of the text-I am now ready to be offered.

Tell me, then, fellow travellers to eternity, is it not wise thus to seek the enduring heavenly mansions? Think of the horrors that must rush into the souls of those who neglect thus to seek them, when they come to be pushed out of life. Think of the anguish which must wring the bosoms of these stupid professed pilgrims, who have continued to cling to earth, and neglect to seek heaven, when earth gives way beneath them, and heaven opens nột before them. Those who fail to gain an everduring abode in heaven, must find one in hell. All must have A CONTINUING CITY in eternity.

Tell me, then, ye - fellow heirs of immortality, is it not wise to keep our steady minds fixed upon, and our earnest efforts directed towards the city of our God? Our seasons of privileges are on the unstaying pinions of time. We cannot summon back those that are gone by. We cannot blot out the record of the past. We cannot hide it from the inspection of Omniscience. That record will appear in sunbeams, when the world has passed away and we are before the judgment seat of Christ. Let us be concerned for the present and coming interval of mortal life. Let us mark down the opening future for the high pursuits of unfading glory. Then, as the years of heaven shall career away, we shall be measuring their revolutions by the swelling tide of our everlasting pleasures !

SERMON XV.

Preparation for Death urged.

MATTHEW XXI V. 44.

THEREFORE BE YE ALSO READY: FOR IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YE

THINK NOT, THE SON OF MAN COMETH.

WERE we to estimate events by their direct and obvious relation to the soul and its destiny, we could not hesitate to pronounce the event of death, as decidedly the greatest of which this world is the scene.

The light of nature shows it to be great, by exhibiting it as the last of man that can be distinctly and satisfactorily discerned in its obscure and dubious revelations. In the light of scripture it is seen to be great, being presented as clearly the end of man's probationary existence, and the beginning of his endless retribution. That an event, which cannot be contemplated but as thus great and momentous, should come to be regarded with indifference and approached with unconcern, must remain a matter of surprise, notwithstanding we are continually familiar with the fact. And that, living in a world which has become the great sepulchre of the thousand generations of men already passed away, we should forget that our graves are ready for us—that, hastening perpetually towards the bourn of mortality, we should habitually forget that we are mortal, can be accounted for, only by supposing in man a native state of unpreparedness

for the event. They cannot be ready to die, who, though they have a general conviction that sooner or later their life must be over, are without such lively sensibilities to the reality and importance of the event, as keep their thoughts turned to it, and their endeavors unremitted to meet it safely and joyfully. Because man is not naturally inclined to think, and feel, and conduct in relation to his approaching dissolution, as though it were a near and momentous reality, he is not naturally in a state to enter into rest. The scriptures uniformly address those who are reluctant to converse with death, as destitute of the requisite preparedness for it. And when they urge the attainment of such preparedness, they often only exhort men to consider their latter endto number their days so as to apply their hearts to wisdom—to question their hearts as to what they shall do at the close of life. In the text, our Saviour recognizing the nature and practical influence of a state of unfitness for death, directly exhorts men to BE READY TO DIE from the consideration, that they know not how soon he will come to remove them into the eternal world. He knew how all who are unfit to die, perpetuate that unfitness by putting the event far off in the obscurities of the indefinite future. He knew how, although they saw others die, some prepared and some unprepared, they would neglect their own preparation so long as they could bring themselves to banish for the present, all thoughts of their coming end, or to view it yet far remote. And therefore he utters a most important and comprehensive exhortation, followed by a no less important and affecting motive-BE YE ALSO READY : FOR IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YE THINK NOT, THE SON OF MAN

As beings confessedly drawing near a world of unending retribution, and strongly inclined to omit for the present, that preparation which alone can prevent that world being to us a world of woe, we have a deep concern in this passage from the lips of our Saviour. There are two principal inquiries suggested by it, which

COMETH.

it is hoped we may usefully consider. What is implied in the state of readiness here enjoined, and why should we immediately attain that state of readiness?

I. What is implied in a state of readiness for the event of death? They are not in that state who brought to the end of life, make a virtue of necessity, and affect a willingness to die, a resignation to an allotment which they would, but cannot resist. They are not ready, who think they are, because they have never sufficiently attended to the subject, to know what preparation is requisite. They are not ready, who are reposing in the delusive notion, that all in some way or other will be made meet for heaven, whatever may have been their character and life up to its close. I observe then,

1. That such readiness implies previous solemn attention to the reality and unspeakable importance of the erent. Before any such attention can have been given to the subject, there must have been a deep conviction of the worth of the soul, of the amazing character of the world of retribution, and of the difficulty and necessity of making the needful preparation. But such a conviction will keep the mind familiar with the event, will make it assume the character of reality, and will give it a greatness and importance, infinitely surpassing any other occurrence in time. To the dying man, and, which is essentially the same case, to the man who keeps death habitually in view as near, how insignificant appear

the brilliant vanities, and stirring events which attach and agitate the world. To him there is more of impressive reality, more of deep and thrilling interest, more of absorbing importance in that approaching breaking up of this earthly tabernacle, than his mind can conceive of throughout the whole remaining range of time. If his mind has been given to the contemplation of death from a conviction of the soul's value and danger, he will be concerned to see how he has lived, how his course of life must appear when displayed in the light of eternity along side of the holy requirements of God; and how

[ocr errors]

his secret thoughts and aims, as well as his conduct, will bear the test of that trying day, when every man's work will be tried of what sort it is. Now can it be, that any one thinks of his soul that can never die, of a state of retribution that will never end, and of a day which is to seal the soul's everlasting destiny, and yet feels no solicitude to ascertain the state of the soul, and to learn what is likely to be the consequences of death? Are not many of us entirely strangers to such solicitude ? Then most assuredly we are not READY TO DIE.

2. To be thus ready, implies that there has actually been much earnest endeavor to be in a state, safely and comfortably to exchange worlds. They who give a solicitous attention to the reality of approaching death, from a conviction of the infinite worth of the soul, and the infinite dangers which threaten it, will not only feel this conviction and give this attention, but will put forth honest and continued endeavors to be safe in the final day. Now what must be the result of a faithful inquiry into the heart and life, as in view of a dying hour ?Will it be to assure a man, that his state of heart and course of life have been such, as to merit the approbation of a holy God? Surely not.

It will be to convince him, that in all things he has offended, and come short of rendering the requisite obedience to the law of God, and that he is justly liable to the penalty of disobedience. He will be humbled and alarmed. He will see the necessity of a radical change in the temper and tendencies of his mind. He will see the propriety of repentance for sin, and feel anxious to be filled with godly sorrow. He perceives his need of a righteousness not his own-of a Saviour apart from himself, or an arm of flesh.

He contemplates objects and pursuits in a new light. He ceases to labor for perishable sustenance, and begins to labor for that which endures unto everlasting life. A sense of want and helplessness, of guilt and misery, endears to him the Saviour who is Christ the Lord,-a Saviour who can deliver from

« PreviousContinue »