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that of the rich man:both the one and the other to be kept either in peace or in misery, unto the judgment of the great day.
Well then, what I have hitherto faid comes to this:--This short life is our appointed day, in which to work out our salvation; the night
--that is, death-cometh, when no man can work. If death overtake us before we have prepared ourselves for it, we are for ever undone. The time of our death is hid from us, that we may be always thinking of it, always preparing, for it. That we may not forget the only thing for which we came into the world, God has hitherto spared us, and puts us in mind of our latter end by a thousand instances. Some are every day going out of the world, of all ages and conditions, by all manner of ways, by sudden and untimely deaths; some young; some in their full age and strength; and much the fewest in a good old
age. Nay, every day that we come to the house of God, we tread upon the graves of those that have already received their doom, whose fouls are all confined to their proper places of happiness or misery. And will not This affect our hearts? I am sure it ought, and make us seriously think within ourselves, that
very, very soon, this must be the case of every one of us here prefent.
Consider 'what it was that made our Lord to weep over Jerusalem; why, the temporal calamities he saw the stubborn Jews were
bringing upon their own heads: he saw how their city would be laid in ashes, how they themselves would be starved with famine, how that at last they would all be murdered, or sold for slaves. But what is all this to the misery of being for ever separated from God; of having our portion with evil spirits, which are kept in chains and darkness unto the judgment of the great day; and who at that day must hear these dreadful words, Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire!
Why now, my brethren, the same Spirit which foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem, and which came exactly to pass; the same mouth which forewarned them, has also given us warning of what will befal us when we die, if we are not renewed in the spirit of our minds while we live. It is therefore necefsary, very necessary, that these truths should be often founded in our ears; forasmuch as a spirit of slumber has seized upon the world, and men live as if they were never to die, or as if after death they were to have no being. It was just so with the Jews, before their final destručtion. And do not think, my brethren, , that these things are nothing to us; the frequent admonitions they had, their blindness, their obstinacy, their punishment, are all written for the admonition of every private Christian, who must expect the same fate, if he takes the same way to deserve it.
To conclude:-The consideration of thefe things very much concerns every one of us here present.
It concerns myself, left when I have preached them to you, I myself (as the apostle speaks) should be a cast-away.
It concerns the very youngest perfons who hear me, that they may beware of falling into a wicked course of life, which shall harden. their hearts, and blind their eyes, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God by which they were sanctified.
It concerns such as are in health, and in the prime of their years, left sickness, calamities, and death, should come upon them unawares.
And nobody doubts but that it concerns such as are old, for their appointed time cannot be very long.
As for such as are ignorant of their duty, and know not how to walk, and to please God, it concerns them to look out for better instruction, lest they pass their days in ignorance, and die in their sin.
For such as hold the truth in unrighteousness ; that is, who believe and know their duty, and yet live like heathens that know not God; it concerns such to look about them, lest in a very short time they have their portion with devils, who believe as well as they, but yet for their rebellion tremble under the dreadful wrath of God.
Lastly; it concerns every body, even the very best of us, to take notice, that this is the day of vihtation.
God visits every one of us: to such as are ignorant, he sends instruction by his ministers; to such as are careless, he sends his judgments to awaken them; to such as are at ease, he fends calamities, and to wean our affections from this life, he often visits us with fickness.
He visits us by his Holy Spirit, Such as fear him, and are dejected, he comforts them; such as are weak and pray to him for help, them he strengthens; to such as have made good use of the graces he has bestowed upon them, to these he gives more grace; and from those that go on to abuse his mercies, he takes away what before he had given them.
In one word; in this instance of the Jews, every Christian may fee his own destiny.They had all the favours shewed them that their hearts could desire, and so have all Christians; they were chastised when they forgat God, and so are we; they were told of, and threatened with approaching judg: ments, and yet very few regarded, till they came upon them like a flood. And is not this the case of too many Christians, who have felt the punishment of their fins before they would be persuaded to believe that any such thing would ever befal them?
What now can I add more, than only to desire every one of you, to consider with me,
that this day of viftation, this day of grace, will have an end, and that very soon, with every one of us here present; that therefore it is our interest and concern to think of what must follow; namely, first, death; secondly, judgment; then either hell or heaven.
These are called the FOUR LAST THINGS. And the serious consideration of these I would leave upon your spirits; beseeching God of his mercy to possess all our souls with a lively sense of these important things, and with the great concern they ought to be to us; that the thoughts of death may mortify in us all pride and vanity, all covetousness and worldly-mindedness, all carnal security and fondness for this life; and oblige us to a strict watchfulness while we continue in this state of temptation and trial; that the consideration of a judgment to come may oblige us all to a striet holiness, and may make us careful of our thoughts, designs, words, and actions, which must all then come to light and be tried.
Let this oblige us, therefore, to try, to examine, and to judge ourselves, that we may not * be condemned of the Lord, when he cometh to judge the world in righteousness.
And if the difficulties of an holy life affright us; if the commands of Jesus Christ, and the example he has set us, feem hard to flesh and blood; then let us seriously consider, whether is easier to serve God now, or to dwell with everlasting burnings hereafter?