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ner had received the word with readiness-had joined in prayer, and prayed himself, and even thought it better to depart. Surrendering himself, however, to the will of God, it was his solemn purpose, whether living or dying, to be the Lord's. He did not die; he is still living; but living,-how? Will you believe it? That is the man, the same man that so lately confessed and prayed, and hoped in seeming faith; and now, how has he returned to the error and evil of his ways! how intent is he on the world which he then so solemnly renounced! Nay, he hates any allusion to his sick-bed scene: he will laugh away the remembrance, and tell his worldly companions that he was only a little nervous ! Oh! what wrath is such a one treasuring up against the day of wrath! Well may he be regarded as the vilest of ingrates who thus requites Heaven's mercy! Well may fear and trembling take hold on us, when we think of his guilt who thus contemns God, and exposes himself to a seven-fold perdition!
We would not, by these remarks, be understood as dissuading a dying sinner from repentance. No; it is the only thing that remains for him to do. Let him attempt it; let him implore grace to repent, for he is on the verge of the grave, and is soon to go away into eternity! But ah, it may be like the effort of a drowning man-a great effort, but still the bootless effort of expiring nature!
You have no reason to postpone the ordering of your house, or to think that you will succeed at so late an hour. Observation is against you-the Word of truth is against you. There is, indeed, mention made of one who obtained a good hope through grace in his last earthly hour; and we may regard it as an intimation from Heaven that no true penitent, however long and deeply he may have sinned, should despair of forgiveness; but, (as has been often remarked,) it is, a solitary instance; and does not this more distinctly intimate. that no one should presume on the Divine mercy?
The hour of death, then, is not the most suitable time for repentance view it in whatever light you please, it is not the warranted hour of salvation. The dying man should be undisturbed and calm. He should have nothing to do but to look back upon the evidences of his faith-such as appear in a life devoted to God's glory; to look forward with the even serenity of trust-to commit his departing spirit into the
hands of Jesus!
Brethren; how wise the decision, which leads one to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; to prepare for life's duties by preparing first for death's solemnities! Suppose such a one to be in the same circumstances in which we have pictured the dying worldling. He is not shocked by
the announcement that he must die-is not disturbed by anxious forebodings; nor does he repose on a false security. God's spirit is nigh unto him, in this, the hour of his need, and the promise of God is even as a cordial warm at his heart. He feels that he is going home; and you may learn from his closing hour, the value of Christian faith. You may see the light of immortality irradiating death's shadows as they gather around his pillow; and while you listen to his accents of purity, and praise, and joyous hope, and behold the beams of opening glory resting on his countenance as he sweetly falls asleep in Jesus, you will feel yourself to be on the confines of bliss, and involuntarily give utterance to the devout sentiment Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !"
Here, then, in the same circumstances is the Christian's advantage over the man who lays himself on his death-bed an impenitent sinner! But I will tell you of another advantage, and a greater. The man whose house is always in order, is guarded against whatever form death may assume. Is he stretched upon a bed of racking pain? the serenity of a resigned and confiding spirit enables him to bear what, in your case, would be aggravated by the terrors of conscious unfitness for approaching death. Or, does the disorder of his dying body derange his faculties of thought? still, all is safe with the soul: a light cloud rests upon its vision; but it is not the gloomy harbinger of the blackness of darkness forever- O no; it will soon burst its dungeon walls, and shine forth clear as a star in the firmament of heaven! Or say (still more dread catastrophe to the worldling!) is the Christian called to a sudden, unwarned death? he goes not into an unprepared eternity, but ascends at once to the presence and bosom of his God!
We might now show from the tenor of this discourse that there is great room for erroneous judgments respecting the final state of the dead; but this were a painful task, nor is it necessary for us to dwell on such an inference longer than to remark that no valid argument for delay can be drawn from the opinions generally entertained on this point.
It is possible for a man to have doubts and fears in his death, and yet enter heaven; and on the other hand, it is possible for one to have no bands in his death, and yet go down to hell. Certain it is, that the circumstances of men's decca: e are nowhere mentioned in the scriptures as the criterion of their religious character and eternal prospects. There is but one criterion mentioned, and that is the life: By their fruits ye shall know them. God alone knows how it is with those who have already gone down to the grave; but if you would
ascertain what will probably be your condition in the future world, keep your heart and regulate your life; for the Christian will ask-Jesus Christ will ask-yea, the Judge of quick and dead will ask, not how you died, but how you lived?
How unwise is it, then, to procrastinate the concerns of the soul to a dying hour! Where, in all the world, is there like folly? He who neglects his worldly affairs until poverty comes upon him as an armed man, is wise and praiseworthy, compared to him that procrastinates his spiritual interests: for the injury which is done in the one case is limited to the body, in the other it reaches the soul; in the former it is temporal, in the latter, eternal! But how inconsistently do men too often act! You think that there is no time to lose, when a prospect of riches or of honor opens upon your view; nay, for these empty, transient objects, you can forego sleep and food; submit to privations, and hardships, and perils; and yet without regret, or even a thought, you can leave to the mercies of a frail, feverish, helpless, dying hour, the vast concerns of an eternal scene!
Did you ever think of that duration which we call eternity? Your present mode of being, (time,) can bear to the future no proportion it is as a particle of impalpable dust, to the universe of matter; as the small, invisible, unfelt dew, to the mighty waters of the great deep! And did you ever think, also, that there is that within you which cannot die? Why, what is your body to that soul? What are the kingdoms of the world, and all the glory of them, to that soul? and you, have not yet begun to set your house in order! How many of the days and the years of your merciful visitation have already passed away! gone to the bar of God, and there entered their verdict against your perverted being and protracted impenitence!
And now if it be so, that "thou shalt die and not live;" and equally clear, that "thou knowest neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh," is not the present charged with weighty interests? Can any thing around you be so important as the energetic devotion of the present moment to your soul's security? If you stood on some dangerous beach with an unscaled precipice rising behind you, you would not linger nor sport with pebbles until the swelling tide broke its resistless waves at your feet. Hie then for thy life! for the tide from the great ocean of eternity is setting in stronger and stronger, and the next refluent wave may bear thee out beyond mortal reach!
There are some who feel most deeply the worth of a ment's time; but it is not here, nor in this world, nor in th upper world, though they who have entered on "the inheri
ance of the saints in light," may wish that while upon earth they had been more intensely engaged in God's most blessed work it is in that lower world that time is fully appreciated; there they feel the worth of even a moment; and there is not one amid that weeping throng who would not give worlds, or suffer on through ages on ages of toil and woe, could he only purchase one such moment as that which you are now squandering! Ah! sinner; you love death rather than life. You unconsciously, as it were, mean to die, and to destroy your own precious soul! You refuse to see yourself in the light of God's precious word; or this moment you would exclaim in anguish of spirit, Lord, save, or I perish!
But, in conclusion, once more would I reiterate the words of the text: "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live" words, neither inapplicable to my audience, nor inappropriate to the season.
At a period which marks the great revolution of time, it imperiously behooves us to withdraw our minds from all sublunary interests, and to converse awhile with death; in imagination to weave our own shroud-to dig our own grave-to send an anxious thought beyond its narrow confines-to set our house in order, that we may go down to the sepulchre in peace, and that our flesh may rest in hope.
Do you deem it unnecessary to be thus thoughtful and provident? Go, visit the graves of those of your number who, since the beginning of the last year, departed this life, and let them answer. As you now may think, so thought theythat, however others might be taken, they should be left. But where is . . . where is. they who have passed hence, and whose accustomed seats in God's house are this day vacant? And where may you be before the close of another year? In eternity! in eternity !
Men and Brethren; I wish you all a peaceful, useful, new year! May he who, in great goodness, has brought you to its commencement, conduct you in health and prosperity to its close. May he bless you, reviving his work in the hearts of his people, and bringing those who are still out of Christ to the heartfelt knowledge of his great salvation!
But as I look round on this audience; from gallery to gallery, from pew to pew; as I look at myself, I cannot repress the suggestion that before the close of another revolving year, some one or other of our number may be—in eternity! Shall we not then individually inquire, Lord is it I? Shall we not prefer the penitent, humble, fervent, united petition: So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
BY REV. W. A. SCOTT, D. D.,
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH ON LAFAYETTE SQUARE, NEW ORLEANS, LA.
THE FULNESS OF TIME.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a womar, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. GALATIANS iv. 4, 5.
I PROPOSE On this occasion to speak of the TIME when it pleased God to fulfil the promises and send his Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. It is the more needful to consider this point, as infidels have often said, and not without a sneer, “If Christianity is from heaven, and is so valuable to the world, why was the world so long without it? Why were four thousand years allowed to pass away before the promises. were fulfilled?" It will be my endeavor
1. To answer this objection.
II. To show that Christ came into the world precisely at the proper time. And
1. In reply to the infidel objection I remark, no man lives or dies to himself. The manner of a great man's death, as well as the fact itself, is the subject of commentary. There is rest for his ashes, but none for his memory. Posterity, as an immense jury, sits round his death-bed for his trial, but its sessions may be adjourned to infinity. History issues no sentence that history may not repeal. "Time fights the battles of truth, an unimpassioned, but unwearied ally." Historical