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The opinion of the wise man is worthy of our regard : “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting : for that is the end of all men, and the living will lay it to heart;" and no one appears to have had more favourable opportunities of judging in these cases than himself. Here we may learn many useful lessons, which may prove of essential service to us in rescuing us from the delusions of our own vain self-love, the flattering snares of worldly prosperity, and from the dangerous devices of the old serpent. Let us now imagine ourselves at one of these houses of sorrow, where the warlike king of terrors has added another subject to his already populous kingdom, and who will subdue all of us sooner or later, and hurry us into his crowded dominions; here lies his victim deprived of all sensation, a breathless corpse, whom he has experimentally taught that “no man hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit, neither hath he power in the day of death, nor is there discharge in that war." Imagine that you see the relatives and friends of the deceased assembled—they are crowded together—they dare scarcely look each other in the face the mournful accents which break the silence, pierce the hearts of each other, and your's also : but you hear no prayers for his return-all know the case is hopeless. “There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again—but man dieth and wasteth away ; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?-man lieth down and riseth not; till the heavens be no more they shall not awake nor be raised out of their sleep :" no prayers or tears can reverse the sentence. Let us pass through these ceremonious mourners, invited upon the occasion ; and the traders in these solemnities—let us approach the pale corpse stretched at its length in the gloomy chamber, for gloomy it is with all the neatness, order, and decency which surround it. Where is now the piercing look, the blooming countenance, the cheerful, animating smile ? Death has shaken the full-blown roses, and scattered their honours on the ground. The skilful hands and active feet are motionless; the purple current, arrested in its course, ceases to flow; a clayey coldness possesses every part; and every member, once the instrument of the departed spirit while conversing with terrestrial objects, is quiet and at rest. Wbat is the world to this man? The whole has passed away like a dream. How striking a likeness have we here before our eyes of what we must shortly be! When we are placed in like circumstances, the world and the concerns thereof will appear to us exactly what they are to him ; that is, a dead blank; and having lived in conformity to God, is the only subject that will bear reflection. Let us now mark the last act of the human drama : perhaps the solemn sound which so often called the attention of the departed spirit to the considerations of eternity, summons the friends of the deceased to deposit the body in the bosom of the earth. The mournful duty is performed

the demands of the clamorous grave are paid in full—the clods fall, rebound, and rumble on the shapely coffin—the true mourners take the last look, and, weeping, bid their last adieu. As they withdraw let us spend a few moments in meditation near this cold and silent repository of the dead. He whose remains lie here, filled while living, a certain sphere of action ; but whatever offices he held, or whatever was his rank and situation in society; whatever were his possessions, connexions, hopes, fears, wishes, and prospects; whoever were his friends or enemies, appear of small moment; the spirit is returned to God who gave it, for its final acquittal or condemnation, and 'nothing remains but this little portion of earth. Let us enquire, were the purposes of life answered in him ? Did he so live as to meet the approbation of his God? If he did, all is well ; if not, all is dreadful. No hope of surviving friends, no monumental inscriptions, no description of his supposed excellencies, no extenuations of sin or human weaknesses can change the irreversible decree that has banished his soul from heaven : but was he evangelically entitled to, and prepared for, the society of the saints in light? If so, no attempt of his censorious and malicious adversa

ries shall ever be permitted to disturb his repose, hurt his character, diminish his glory, or lessen him in the esteem of the God he loves. Are we then continually carried towards this goal, and is there no passage for us to a future state but through this dark valley, and must we leave all behind when we enter it? Is it here that we, who fade as the leaves in autumn, must be collected to decay? Let the thought humble our vain hearts, reduce our exorbitant desires after this world into lawful measure-teach us while using, not to abuse the gifts of our Creator--and kindle in our souls an intense and constant desire after that blessed state, where there is fulness of joy, and which will prove as suitable for us as it is excellent, and as happy as it is durable. All our proceedings here, which are not begun and ended with a view to eternity, are vain and frivolous. How insignificant, without this, are the greatest undertakings! While cleaving to the dust, gratifying the sensual appetites, indulging the unruly passions, filling our heads with wild and romantic ideas of grandeur and ambition, and pleasing our imaginations with the most trifling and ridiculous objects, we only amuse or deceive our souls, and neglect their true happiness. The wisdom of politicians, the courage of heroes, and the pomp of emperors are nothing before the solemn realities of eternity. The joys of heaven and the torments of hell are alike unutterable. Divine truth flatters no man, it bids all alike “prepare to meet their God," and assures us that there is no work nor repentance in the grave, whither we are going. The same state and dispositions in which we are found at death will continue for ever. He that is filthy, will be filthy still; and he that is holy, will be holy still. Such reflections should rouze us from our insensibility, and teach us the necessity of adopting vigorous measures for the securing of our salvation while it is called to-day, knowing “ the night cometh in which no man can work.'

Since we are then carried continually to this end, it would be well for every one seriously to consider the importance of conversion, by wbich alone we can meet it with confi. dence and serenity. Let any man meditate closely on these things, and it cannot fail of being followed by beneficial effects. Let him adopt such language as the following, and I hope it will draw forth a desire not only to die the death of the righteous, but also to live his life. 'I must die. Nothing can defend me from the stroke of death. I am surrounded with danger like my fellow-creatures. They are summoned away, hour after bour, by various means. The day will arrive when I must receive the warning and depart. No endowments of mind—no situation, however privileged-no favourable circumstances-no climate, how' ever healthy—and no connexions, however strong or extensive, can detain me here. “All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass : the grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.” Such is the state of all, and such consequently is mine. My constitution mustbe weakened by sickness or age, and feebleness or wrinkles must be my portion. I have sinned, and must resign my breath into the hands of my offended Judge, and my spirit must go to him, to be disposed of for eternity. “Our fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live for: ever ?”. O, my soul, prepare to follow them ; lay hold of grace and eternal life as they did ; commit thyself and all thy concerns into the hands of thy Saviour; and then thou mayest hope that when “thy heart and flesh fail, he will be the strength of thy heart, and thy portion for ever.”

CHAP. IV.

THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

Future judgmentthe nature of the heavenly state.

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JUDGMENT.

It appears from the account given us of the rich man and Lazarus, that immediately on the dismissal of the spirit from the body, it will go to its own place and company the pious to the joys of heaven, and the impious to the torments of hell, Luke xvi. 22, 23. Hence it appears that the final state of mankind is fixed at death, and is not deferred to the rea surrection of the body: though it is highly probable that neither the righteous nor the wicked will know till that day the greatness either of their rewards or punishments. Be that as it may, it is evident that there will be a general judgment, both from the oath and declaration of God. “ As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God." And he speaks thus. by his holy apostle, “We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad;" and the same truth is confirmed by abundance of scriptures. As this is one of the most solemn subjects which can possibly occupy the mind of man, and as the absolute necessity of conversion appears on the face, and on every part of it, it may be proper to take a large survey of the same, that we may be the more careful to prepare to stand with confidence before our Almighty Judge.

1. The Judge himself.—This is Christ. All judgment is committed to him. “God will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained-of which he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he bath raised him from the dead." While our blessed Redeemer

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