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things unseen? Have you ever seriously considered what must be, or what might be, your condition in the world to come? Have you asked yourselves what influence may even now be exerted by your actions of every day upon your happiness, when all your days on earth are gone, and when nothing shall remain but a boundless eternity?
Have you ever suffered your imagination to pierce the skies; to soar beyond that azure vault which limits our earthly vision ? And after taking in the vast compass
in which the known systems revolve, have you gone beyond, to those regions where every star we see lights up other systems of worlds, which roll in other circuits ; or to those still more distant orbs whose rays, though travelling since the birth-time of creation, have never yet fallen upon mortal eye? Have you suffered your thoughts still to range forward even into that illimitable space where the soul seemed to flutter in the very dwelling-place of infinity? And there have you descried, “ high
placed above all height, thet throne, where the “ veiled seraphs stand ?" Then, conceiving a “ beatitude past utterance," a happiness exceeding all that the eye and ear have reported to the sense, or all that the heart has been able to conceive; and fixing its residence in the highest arch of those circling heavens, have you fancied that perhaps it might be given to mortal beings there
to enjoy that felicity, and to enjoy it for ever? And then, listening to the word of revelation, have you been assured that such a felicity is indeed prepared for them that love God! Or turning from this scene of triumph and of wonder, have you imagined, in the lowest deeps of creation's dread abyss,
“Some place eternal justice had prepared for the rebellious ;
Save what the glimmering of its vivid flames
6 In which
Still urges ?”
Have you imagined such a place, a lake of fire, a bottomless pit, in which is heard weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and from which the smoke of torment ascends for ever and ever! And again reverting to the word of revelation, have you read that the wicked shall be turned into that hell, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched! And bringing back your speculations from these scenes of blessedness or woe unutterable, have you felt that one or other
of these states must be yours, and that soon, and that for ever? My brethren, if you have realized all this to be sober truth, and no dream of raptured or disordered brain, then it is time to reflect that on your part there is something to be done to gain that heaven, and something to be done to avoid that hell. The night cometh. It is at hand. And oh! how suddenly does it sometimes spread its shadows over eyes beaming in the light of gladness, and sparkling with anticipation and hope! Often at noon, in the very radiance of noon, it comes. What prospects, what expectations, what dreams of imagined happiness, does it enshroud in gloominess for ever! Look back, and see how many are now sleeping in its darkness, who lately moved, and acted, and toiled, in the day which yet beams around our path. Look back, and see what scenes of gaiety have been quenched, what blịthe and cherished visions have been extinguished, at its approach. Look back,
, and see what minds of intelligence, and what souls of fire, have been suddenly gathered to their house of silence, when that night has come. Look forward but a little, and how many of us will be hidden in its gloom! Soon its shadows will descend
upon us all. Soon all present distinctions will be forgotten and unknown. Soon all that now rejoices in life, and beauty, and wisdom, and strength, shall together mingle in oblivion ; and
earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, be the solemn sentence which shall be pronounced upon
all. My brethren, shall the night of despair set in upon our spirit, when the night of death shall have concealed our mortal frame? Shall the blackness of darkness for ever rest upon our souls, when our bodies have been given to the darkness of the grave!
? Oh! if there be any thing for us to do to avert a doom so full of misery, let us now do it without delay; for the night cometh, the night in which no man can work.
I repeat then, my brethren, the caution, that whatever be our resolution still to delay our preparation, even though it were only for a little while, or whatever our intention to begin it at some early day; yet so long as we are actually omitting it; so long as we are endeavouring to accomplish this or that object of worldly convenience or advantage before we begin; so long as we are indulging this or that gratification, which is at variance with our duty; so long, in fine, as we are not actually and earnestly engaged in seeking the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness thereof; our danger is imminent, and ought to alarm us. We are not living to God. We are not doing the work which he requires, and gives us opportunity to do. We are presumptuously hazarding his just anger, and though VOL. II.
exposed to be cut off in a moment, and though we have a long eternity depending upon our preparation, we are heedlessly disregarding the caution, The night cometh, the night in which no man can work.
My brethren, the line of our duty is before us, without performing which, we shall cry, Lord, Lord, in vain. Let us, then, work the works of God while it is day. Soon it will be for ever too late. Soon we shall go down into the land of darkness and of silence; the land where all things are forgotten. Whatsoever therefore our hand findeth to do, let us do it with our might. And if until this moment we have neglected our salvation, let us apply with the greater earnestness, and more fervent prayer, to those means of grace which are yet in our power, and which God has promised to bless; and no longer hazarding our eternal welfare, begin, in a new and religious course of life, that preparation which God requires, and without which we can never aspire to live in his presence, or to be partakers of his everlasting rewards.
In conclusion, these words present both caution and consolation for those who are confirmed in the Christian life: caution, in that they remind them how short is the time that remains in which they can perfect their Christian character, glorify their Father who is in heaven, and show forth his praise before men. This reflection should