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First, because many are called, and few are chosen. In every field there are tares as well as wheat; and in every church, sinners and saints are blended together. We may be exact about the form of godliness, and yet be condemned for want of its power. Watch, therefore, commune with your own hearts, and let
your spirit make diligent search. Judge every grace and every duty by the word of God, and if they will not stand that test, suspect and reject them. Look back to the time when you first entered into covenant with Christ: inquire into the motives, the manner, the fruits, and the consequence of it; and consider what proofs you have given, in your general conduct, that you have been really born again. You cannot be too circumspect and cautious in this matter. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Self-love may prompt you to form partial opinions, and pass lightly over particular circumstances, which are rather unfavourable to you. Watch, therefore, against this; and, after all, trust not to your own heart, nor lean to your own understanding; but laying all open to the penetrating eye of God, say, “ Search ine, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any
wicked way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Secondly, be watchful, because so many about you are slothful. Indeed, the generality are so, though there are duty and danger enough to keep them always awake. Multitudes have not begun to “ work out their salvation." They have not taken a step towards Sion, nor set their faces thitherward. They have never had a serious thought about their souls, but are lying in wickedness on the brink of destruction, and
yet are as indolent and light-hearted, as if their hea. ven were secure. Tell them of their danger, point them to the precipice before them, mention several persons of their acquaintance who have lately perished by their side ; in short, say what you will, like the deaf adder, they stop their ears, as if they were resolved to hear nothing that would disturb them in their dangerous slumbers. It is, indeed, a melancholy sight. But it is more surprising to see so many, who profess themselves Christians, sleeping too; at least slothful in business, and pursuing the usual round of duty with a shameful languor and indifference; hearing as if they heard not, praying as if they prayed not; while their whole attention is fixed on trifles, which, in their better and more wakeful moments, they would treat with contempt. We cannot help weeping over these drowsy professors; and wonder that, with such a treasure about them, with such prospects before them, and with such enemies on every side, they should ever be composed enough to fall asleep. Surely, if it were not for their ever present and ever wakeful friend and guardian, they might be robbed and murdered in the midst of their slumbers. However, do not you sleep as do others. Take heed, lest at any time, your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life; and so that day come upon you
Avoid every thing that has the least tendency to stupify or intoxicate your spiritual
Guard against the beginnings of slothfulness. Be early and earnest in your prayers for quick, ening grace. Attend on those means, and welcome those dispensations, of Providence, whetber merci
ful or afflictive, which may make you more alert and vigorous in duty.
Thirdly, be watchful, because you know not the day, nor the hour, when the Son of man cometh. " When a few years are come, we say with all the confidence imaginable, “ I shall go
whence I shall not return;" as if we were sure of years, when, alas! we cannot consider an hour as our own. You may be called away at a moment's warning; and when the summons comes, prepared or unprepared, you must go as you are. You read in the scriptures, that before the great and terrible day of the Lord, there shall be signs in the heavens, and earthquakes in divers places ; that the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood ; and that these things would warn the world of his coming. You may expect a like notice of the approach of your death. You, perhaps, imagine that the disorder will be at first slight, and grow more and more dangerous by insensible degrees ; that you shall be confined to your house, then to your chamber, then to your bed; and that all that while, you shall have nothing to do but to prepare for eternity. But you should consider, that death does not always send a messenger before, to give notice of his coming. Many are called away without the formality of sickness; or if they languish for some time, it may be in a disorder that, from the first attack, shall unfit them for acting or thinking. This is another reason why you should watch. You know not what shall be to-morrow; perhaps this night your souls may be required of you. I again exhort you to watch, because if, coming suddenly, he should find you sleep
ing, you may be undone for ever. If, through grace, you work while it is day, and improve your time and opportunities while you enjoy them, you may escape all those things which shall come to pass, and stand before the Son of man. But if
waste your time in saun tering or sleeping, and wake not till the cold hand of death be upon you, and if you begin not to think about religion till the hurries of dying incapacitate you for it, you are ruined beyond the possibility of recovery. For “ when once the toaster of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door," you may knock loud and long, and cry,
, “Lord, Lord open to us;" but all will be vain. The only answer you will ever hear, will be," I know you not, whence you are; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Watch, therefore, while ye
have the light, lest darkness come upon you.
Finally, watch, because blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. Having been long conversant with death, its approach does not terrify them. Having been looking for Christ, they are not surprised at his appearance. They can perceive their flesh. wasting, their breath shortening, their strength failing, and all the symptoms of an approaching dissolution, and calmly say, “ Thank God, I am not afraid to die: I know in whom I have believed : and am persuaded, that he is able to keep what I have committed to him against that day.” There is something, indeed, formidable in the appearance of death : but the watchful Christian meets him, and hears his message, unmoved. “ I am come,” says death, “ to take thee away from all thy friends and relations, and to dispossess thee of all that thou hast in the
« With all my
world. Leave all, and follow me." heart," says the watchful Christian : “ I always knew that the fashion of this world passes away, and I was convinced that I could not long keep what I had; and therefore ever since the Lord directed me to look at things not seen and eternal, I have been endeaa vouring to draw away my affections from these vanishing enjoyments, and set them on things above. I have loved my friends, and may feel a pang at parting: but I have other and dearer friends in the world to which I am going ; so that I shall be no loser by the exchange.' “ But,” says death, “ I am come to destroy this body, of which thou hast been always so tender.
I shall at one stroke lay it breathless at my feet, and turn it into deformity and putrefaction; and thy friends will hurry thee out of their sight, and give thee a prey to corruption and worms." " With all my heart,” says the watchful Christian: " and I care not how soon thou wilt execute thy commission. I have been tender
I of my body, it is true; and while I continued in this earthly liouse of my tabernacle, I thought it my duty to keep it in repair. But I have long been burdened with its infirmities and decays, and wished to be unclothed and dismissed ; and if thou wilt help to undress me, I shall thank thee for thy friendly assistance.” “ But,” says death, “ I am come to take thee from all those pursuits and enjoyments to which thou hast been so long accustomed. Old things will pass away, and all things will appear Dew.”
“ With all my heart,” says the watchful Christian. “ But it will not be so new to me as might be imagined. I have through grace begun an