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piness; whereas they are things of infinite moment and of infinite concern to us.

This delusion not uncommonly travels with us through life; sometimes probably enters with us into the grave; and is scarcely shaken off, when we appear before the bar of God. Its influence is also universal, and extends to our thoughts, affections, and purposes alike, and to the objects with which they are conversant.

On a dying bed, however, it often vanishes: and if sickness and patience leave us in the possession of our reason, juster views prevail with respect both to things present and things future, things temporal and things spiritual. From such a bed a sinner may therefore be veiwed, as taking a new survey of all the objects of his aims and efforts, of his hopes and fears. Under the influence of this clear discernment in this new state of the mind, the following observations will shew with how much propriety he may take up this despairing lamentation.

Among the objects which may be supposed most naturally to arise to the view of a sinner on his dying bed, his youth would undoubtedly occupy a place of primary importance. In what colours will his various conduct during this period appear? He is now on the verge of eternity, and just bidding his last adieu to the present world and all its cares, and hopes, and pleasures. The earth and whatever it contains, are vanishing forever from his sight; and the places, which have long known him, will within a few hours know him no more.

Where are now his high hopes of sublunary good? Where his lively, brilliant spirits; his ardent thirst for sensual enjoyment, for

gay amusements, for sportive companions, and for the haunts of festivity, mirth, and joy? These once engrossed all his thoughts, wishes, and labours. With a voice, sweeter and more deceitful than that of the fabled Sirens, they once sung to him: “Let us pluck the rose buds ere they wither;” and “Let us withhold not our heart from any joy.” Where are they now? They have vanished with the gaiety of the morning cloud : they have fled with the glitter of the early dew. Of what madness will he

see himself to have been possessed, that he could be allured away from duty and salvation by bubbles, which, though adorned with the hues of enchantment, burst in a moment, and were gone forever!

In this precious, golden season God called to him from heaven, and proclaimed aloud ; " I love them that love me; and those who seek me early shall find me. Receive


instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than fine gold. For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I will cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures." His face was then clothed in smiles; and his voice was only tenderness and compassion. Christ also, with the benignity and sweetness of redeeming love, invited him to “come, and take the water of life freely;" proffered to him the eternal blessings of his atonement and intercession; pointed to him the wounds with which he was pierced for his sake, and the love with which, stronger than death, he had been broken on the cross, and poured out his blood, that he might live.

The Spirit of Grace, with the same boundless affection, whispered to him, “ to turn from every evil way, and every unrighteous thought, to the Lord his God; who was ready to have mercy on him, and abundantly to pardon him.” In the recesses of the soul he awaked the friendly monitions of conscience, the salutary fear of sin, the cheering hope of pardon and peace, and the glory of the promises found in the Gospel, containing and communicating everlasting life.

With what amazement will he now look back, and see that he refused these infinite blessings; that he turned his back on a forgiving God; closed his ears to the calls of a crucified Redeemer; and hardened his heart against the whispers of salvation, communicated by the Spirit of truth and life! How will he wonder that the dream of life could seem so long; and that he could, even in one instance, much more in a thousand, say to repentance,

“Go thy way for this time; when I have a more conven. ient season, I will call for thee!” How will he be astonished,

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that he refused to sow the seed of the Gospel in this precious season; and thus rendered the field of his life an Arabian desert!

Riper years will naturally next offer themselves to his view. The bustle of this period seemed at the time to be of real importance; and, although not devoted to virtue, yet to be occupied by business serious and solid. But, now, how suddenly will this specious garb drop; and leave in all their nakedness his avarice, his ambition, and his graver sensuality! Of what value now are the treasures which he struggled to heap up; and the offices which he toiled and sighed to fill; the honours, which he sacrificed truth and duty to acquire; and the power, which he so ardently longed to enjoy? In how vain a shadow did he walk ! On what mere wind, did he labour to satisfy the hunger of his soul? How will his boasted reason appear to have been busied; in what dreams of unreal good; what bedlam schemes of splendour and pride ; what swinish devotion to appetite; what infantine contentions about toys and gewgaws; and what dreadful neglect of himself, and his eternal well-being! Instead of being employed in discovering truth, and performing duty; he will see it, throughout this most discreet period of life, labouring to flatter, to justify, to perpetrate iniquity; to persuade himself that safety might be found in sin ; and that old age, or the last sickness, was the proper season for repentance and reformation. Blind to heaven, it had eyes only for this world. Deaf to the calls of salvation, it listened solely to those of pride. Insensible to the eternal love of God, it opened its feelings only to the solicitations of time and sense.

Behind manhood, we behold age next advancing ; age, to him the melancholy evening of a dark and distressing day. Here he stood upon the verge of the grave; and advanced daily to see it open, and receive him. How will he now be amazed that, as death drew nigh, he was still in no degree aware of its approach: that, when his face was covered with wrinkles and his head with hoary hairs, when his body bent towards the ground and his limbs trembled over the grave; he could still postpone the great work of salvation to a future day, and believe that repentance might VOL. II.


yet be safely begun at some distant time! How hard will that heart seem to him, which, when the King of terrors was knocking at his door, when the judgment was set for him, and the books were opened ; when the vail of the invisible world was just rending in twain, and the voice of God was heard calling with a most awful sound,“ Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee;" when hell was enlarging her mouth to receive him, and the doors of heaven were closing forever : he was still unwarned and unconcerned ; a drowsy passenger, saying, " Yet a little more sleep, a little more slumber," while the vessel in which he was embarked was plunging into the abyss. In all these periods, with what emotion will he regard his innumerable sins! How many will he see to have been committed in a single day, a month, a year, of omission, of commission; of childhood, and of riper years! How will he shudder at his insensibility to his enormous guilt; at his union with other fools in making a mock at sin; at his blindness to its dreadful debasement, and most fearful reward! Sins now are seen by him to be the most dangerous and fatal of all enemies ; mustered in battle array against his soul, at the most awful of all seasons; and when no ally, no friend, appears to aid him in the unequal conflict.

Among the sins which will most affectingly oppress bis heart, his negligence, abuse, and prostitution, of the means of grace will especially overwhelm him. God, all along through the various parts of his life, put into his hands with unspeakable kindness his Word, his Sabbath, and the blessings of his sanctuary. He gave him line upon line, and precept upon precept ; warnings of his Word and providence without number ; and invitations to embrace the Redeemer, and yield himself to him as a free-will offering, which were new every morning and fresh every moment.

Nothing will now more astonish him, than that he could possibly lose, profane, and destroy in amusement, business, idleness or sleep, a single sabbath ; that he could ever be absent from the sanctuary; that he could wander after covetousness and pleasure, during a single prayer ; or neglect to hear and ponder a single

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sermon ; that he was not engrossed by the voice of the Divine Charmer, charming him with infinite wisdom and tenderness to life eternal; that he did not tremble at the word of the Lord, resounding in his ears the guilt, the danger, and final doom, of all the workers of iniquity, and proclaiming glad tidings of great joy unto every repenting and returning prodigal.

How naturally, how passionately will he now exclaim, Oh, that my lost and squandered days might once more return ; that I might again go up to the house of God; that I might again in the invaluable season of Youth, before my sins had become a burden so heavy and so grievous to be borne, be present at the morning and evening sacrifice of prayer and praise; and again hear the Divine voice calling me to faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the possession of endless glory! Were a thousand worlds mine, how cheerfully would I give them all, for one day to be spent in the Courts of the Lord! Oh that one year, one month, one sabbath, might be added to my wretched, forfeited life! But ah! the day of Grace is past : my wishes, nay my prayers, are in vain. In that long eternity which opens before me, no sabbath will ever dawn upon my wishful eyes ; no sanctuary will unfold the gates of peace and life ; no prayers will ever find a gracious ear; no praises will ever ascend to heaven; no sermon will ever call wandering and perishing sinners to repentance; no proffers of endless life will ever be made; the charming sound of a Saviour's voice will never more be heard ; and the music of salvation will be dumb forever."

Such will be the natural retrospect of a dying sinner. What will be his prospects ?

Before him, robed in all his terrors, stands Death, the messenger of God, now come to summon him away. To what, to whom is he summoned? To that final Judgment, into which every work of his hands will be speedily brought, with every secret thing: to that Judge ; from whose sentence there is no appeal, from whose eye there is no concealment, from whose hand there is no escape. Through the last agonies lies his gloomy, dreadful passage into the unseen world ; his path to the bar of God.

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