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by God's mercy in Christ Jesus, find himself safe at last : while of them that draw back, the end shall even be perdition. So the apostle warns us—and surely it is a warning which we cannot venture to slight.
At least we cannot venture to slight it, if our hearts are in any degree impressed with a sense of our real condition-such noble promises offered us, our dangers and difficulties so great, so brief a time of trial, and beyond it the vast unchanging eternity.
THINGS TEMPORAL AND THINGS ETERNAL.
2 Cor. iv. 18.
"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which
are not seen : for the things which are scen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
THERE is a truth which we all know equally wellwhether we are learned or ignorant, old or young; we are all equally well assured of the truth—that the things which we see are temporal-only for a time, and fast passing away
And yet, though we know it so well, our heavenly Father seems, if I may so speak, to take great pains to remind us of it constantly ; as if it were of very great consequence that we should be continually thinking of it, and as if we were very likely, practically, to forget it.
For in everything about us, and in ourselves, and in Scripture, the Almighty seems to be continually forcing this truth upon our minds.
In everything about us—for what are day or night so quickly following each other, but little images of life and of death, and of resurrection after death ? is neither speech nor language, but their voices are heard among them ; one day telleth another, and one night certifieth another." And what are spring and autumn, summer and winter, so quietly indeed and steadily, but so rapidly, succeeding each other? Decay and death always following very soon upon the steps of everything whatever, that is allowed to flourish. Doubtless they are intended to make us take this truth of our our fleeting, perishable condition seriously to heart.
Again, the lives of other animals, especially those VOL II.-3
that most fall under our notice, are ordained mostly to be shorter than man's; as if to remind their short-lived master, that he must not depend upon them, for that they must be gone, and that he must get ready to follow them.
Again, as to the lives of our fellow-creatures; the Almighty has so in his wisdom appointed it, that they should all be quietly dropping off one after the other, of all ages, and of all bodily conditions, of health and strength, and in all kinds of ways; and not only this, but he has so wonderfully arranged it, that there is no person without a constant warning-no person who has not at all times the case of some death fresh before
eyes. For is there any time when we have not the death of some person, a relation, or a friend, or a neighbor, or of some public person who stood in our mind's eye-the death of some one or other-always before us ?
This we cannot suppose to happen without an especial design of God to ourselves-a gracious warning that we should consider.
In the next place, in the changes and signs of mortality, which we cannot but see in our friends, and feel in ourselves gradually coming on, we hear the same voice of our heavenly Father distinctly speaking to us.
And not only in our bodies, but in our minds also, there is the same gradual change ; our strongest affections for all earthly objects languish and alter; what we most covet in childhood we care nothing for in manhood, the desires we had in manhood are given up for others when we grow old. Religious feelings, also, the highest confidence, the lowest depression of mind, pass away—and leave no trace behind. But here there is one thing very much to be remarked—though all things without in the world, and though our bodies and everything that belongs to them, so soon change and fade away, and are as if they never had been ; yet with regard to the mind and the soul, although feelings pass away, yet there are some things that do not change, but always continue with us.
Anything that a man has done, for good or evil, abides with him all his life.
If he has done what is very sinful when young, it is upon his mind through all ages of life, and even at his deathbed: probably on his sorrowful memory; but if not, a still deeper stain on his conscience.
If he has ever endeavored earnestly to seek God's favor, this remains on his heart, refreshing his thoughts, and turning them more and more to God all his days.
But to return. All these changes in us and about us are the voice of God; and when he speaks, infinitely important is it, that we should listen to his voice : but there is another way in which he speaks to us more distinctly than this, that is, by the Bible.
For although this truth, of the fleeting nature of our lives, seems so obvious, that every one thinks he has no need to be told of it; yet it is very remarkable how the whole of the Scripture seems as it were to be sounding it in our ears throughout.
Upon this subject, indeed, it appears as if nothing could be so touching, so affecting, which would so come home to our hearts, as if a person were to collect to. gether all those passages scattered through the holy volume, which, through the voices of the aged patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, speak of the exceeding transitory and fleeting nature of our pilgrimage here
Many of those, particularly such as occur in the Psalms and the book of Job, and of Ecclesiastes, and some in the New Testament, are such as will be obvious to any one on a little consideration : such as,
“I'am a stranger and sojourner before thee, as all my fathers were.
“When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.”
“All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away."
“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is
cut down : he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.”
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle.” “O remember that my life is wind.”—“The eye of him that saw me shall see me no more. Thine eyes are upon me, and I am not."
And through the 90th Psalm, written by the holy Moses : “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, when it is past ; and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood—they are as a sleep-in the morning they are like grass, which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up ; in the evening it is cut down and withereth.”
“We spend our years as a tale that is told."
“ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
“Let us therefore go forth to Jesus without the camp, pearing his reproach, for here we have no continuing city.
Now, expressions like these, out of number, which occur in holy writ, are doubtless addressed to us by the good spirit, as of a fact which it is most necessary we should remember, and which we are most prone practically to forget.
And not by such admonitions only—but by all its instructive histories also would the same blessed spirit seem to inculcate upon us an abiding sense of our poor frail, fading condition here.
Not to mention so many patriarchs, and prophets, and kings, who seem rapidly to be passing before us, and to cry aloud as they pass, we are but strangers and pilgrims, and seeking for another home ;—but how many are there of whom it is only recorded, that they lived and died ?
Indeed, the fact is, though strange it may appear to say so--we that are alive live more among the dead than we do among the living. When we read a book, and think of the person who wrote it, as of a friend, and ask for him, it is very likely we shall find that he is now among the dead, and not among the living. When we