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friend of sinners-the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. If "all flesh is grass, and the fashion of this world passeth away"-if there is nothing here upon which we can rest-nothing which will support us amidst the changing scenes of life, and the gloomy hour of our departure from it-then, of what unutterable worth and importance are the friendship and favor of God-and that religion with which they are connected-a religion consisting in a holy conformity of the heart to the character of God and the gospel of his grace, and which is wrought and cherished in the soul by the efficient operations of the Holy Spirit. This, and this only, can place us in a right condition, with respect to all present, as well as future objects. It will furnish us with a preparedness to use the things of the world as not abusing them, and in their proper connection with eternity. It will support us under afflictions and trials. It will enable us to contemplate the approach of death, with serenity and inward peace. The divine Saviour, to all who trust in him, will be as an "hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest-he will be as rivers of water in a dry place-as the shadow of a great rock, in a weary land."
3. From what has been said, we infer the importance of an immediate attention to all relative duties.
The Most High has, in his providence, placed us in such a condition, upon earth, that we stand in numerous and peculiar relations to each other. We stand in the relation of rulers and subjects, husbands. and wives, parents and children, brethren and sisters, teachers and taught. To all these relations are attached peculiar and important duties, which are of reciprocal obligation. By neglecting any of these, whether through sloth or false kindness towards those with whom we stand connected-we injure them, and thus transgress the law of love. In so doing we shall likewise injure ourselves-as the errors and sinful
practices, into which they may fall, in consequence of our neglect of duty, will be against us. In this way we shall become partakers in other men's sin.. The importance therefore of relative duties is plain. It will doubtless be generally granted. But the great danger is found in our proneness to neglect them for the present, and put them off to an imagined more convenient season.
Now our text and subject suggest an important reason for an immediate attention, viz. the frailty of all around us. The consideration, that they are dying creatures, having not a moment's lease of life, should engage us, if there are any duties, which we would wish to perform-whether of counsel, or charity, or instruction, or example, or reproof-to set immediately about them, lest those, to whom they are due, should be suddenly taken from us, and our opportunities lost for ever.
Ministers should ever address their hearers with all that faithfulness and solemnity, which become dying men, when addressing sinners that must diesinners, who, before another sabbath, may be summoned to the bar of God.
The same solemn impression ought to influence all, that are in common life. Husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, ought to view and treat each other, every day, with respect to the duties they owe them, as if it were their last. For indeed it may be the last. We are, at no time, sure, but that before another day or hour arrives, our connections may be taken from us, and their eyes fast closed in death.
Thus we have a strong inducement to the immediate discharge of relative duties, not only from our frailty, but from the frailty of all around us.
4. This truth, aud all the solemn truths of our subject, are enforced by all the instances of mortality within our knowledge; and more immediately by
several recent instances among both the aged and young. Suffer me to turn your thoughts to these, as striking examples to illustrate and enforce our subject. Surely they are such as ought to be seriously noticed and remembered by all.
The first I shall mention is that of an aged person, a dear sister in this church, who was lately called to go the way of all the earth. In the view of this, and under the impression of our subject, I would call upon the aged to notice the hand of providence, and hear the call in this instance of mortality among their companions in age. To them the solemn command is, in this providence, addressed, "Be ye also ready." With respect to the young, death may possibly be at the distance of years; but with respect to the aged it is certainly at hand. "It is even at
The next instance I have to mention, and which more peculiarly coincides with the language of our subject, is that affecting instance of the uncertainty of human life-the death of a youth, a female, about fifteen years of age. Blooming in youth, amiable in disposition, surrounded with many promising prospects; she was, a few weeks since, in a very sudden. and surprising manner, separated from her widowed parent-from her affectionate friends-from this house of worship, where, very lately, she was our mouth to God in the praise of his sanctuary, and from all sublunary things, into the vast world of spirits.
In the view of this event, I would call upon the youth, and especially upon those of the age and acquaintance of the deceased, to lay it seriously to heart, and keep in daily remembrance their own frailty.
But, perhaps, some of you are ready to tell me, "This is unseasonable. It is too late to address us.. Our friend is gone. Over her grave we dropped a tear-and then engaged in the same thoughtless, and
vain pursuits as before. We wish not to have the gloomy subject of death revived." Alas! my dying friends, and is it so, as was suggested to some of you, at that affecting funeral scene, that in a few weeks, perhaps in a few days, you would probably return to your former thoughtlessness respecting preparation for death? Have you already lost the solemn impression? Was that lesson of mortality-that lesson of the uncertainty and vanity of youthful prospects, which was then held up before your eyes, and written in such legible characters--was that lesson of wisdom so little attended to, as to be already effaced from your minds? Can you, in so few days, visit the circle where your companion lately appeared, and mingle in conversation, which has no respect to death and the eternal world? Can you rise in this house to address Jehovah, and sing his praise with a thoughtless tongue, and without so much as the reflection, that one, who, only a few days since, was numbered with you, and had as fair a prospect of life as any of you now have, has joined, either the wretched throng, who have neglected the gospel, or the happy heavenly choir, whose delightful praises will fill eternity?
I know not that any are so thoughtless-but if they are, if in so few days a providence so striking is forgotten, then it is proper-it is seasonable to recall it to your minds. But if my voice be not sufficient, I have the voice of God anew in his providence to join with it. For I have another death among your number to announce to you. Another youth, whose age was about fifteen years, in a like sudden and surprising manner, has, the week past, been snatched away by death. But two days since, she was laid low in the grave.
These events are loud calls to the youth of my charge. I cannot let them pass unnoticed. My opportunities of addressing the deceased are no more.
But to the living I have opportunities to speak. Shall I let them pass unimproved?
My youthful hearers, it is a very serious and af fecting consideration, that you are so constantly exposed to the stroke of death, and are nevertheless so generally thoughtless. Yet be: intreated to receive the admonitions of unchanging truth. Amidst the gaiety and giddiness of youth, remember, your life is a vapor, and will soon vanish. God will assuredly bring you into judgment. Your presumption upon long life, and consequently on the safety of at present neglecting religion, is a presumption against every dictate of wisdom.
How long, my young friends, shall the voice of God call after you in vain? Dare you resolve, that you will not be religious-that you will never return unto the Lord, your Creator and Judge? Remember, it is unchangeably appointed unto you once to dieand that the hour will, at furthest, soon arrive, in which you must, "Go the way of all the earth." For myself, I know, that I shall be called to give my account, whether I have been faithful to your souls. I cali you to record, this day, that, if you die eternally, I am clear from your blood.
Before I conclude, suffer me to express a most earnest desire, that those, who are parents, would lay these events to heart. They reiterate the remonstrance of eternal truth, "Cease ye from man.' Perhaps you have children growing up before your eyes. Perhaps they are ingenious, amiable, promising. Upon them, perhaps, you are already leaning, and hoping from them to receive needed supportmuch satisfaction-many joys. But, "Cease ye from man." Your children are frail. Their breath is in their nostrils. Wherein is their life to be accounted of? But while you cease from trusting in them, and from setting your affections inordinately upon them, yet cease not from their instruction. Remember, they are constantly liable to be taken