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SERMON I.

NEARNESS OF ETERNITY.

By the Hon. And Rev. G. T. NOEL, A. M.

1 Peter iv. 7.

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But the end of all things is at hand ; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto

prayer.

ܪ

It is the privilege of a Christian lo contemplate future events
without alarm. His main interests are secured; he is " preserved
in Christ Jesus," and " kept by the power of God through faith
unto salvation.” Hence, although many may be his previous
afflictions, the Lord at length delivers bim out of them all." It
is therefore to him no matter of disquietude, to throw forward his
thoughts into futurity. Death, is in fact, to him the gate of life:
" for me to live is Christ, but to die is gain.” This power of
regarding the future without alarm, is a great and substantial
blessing. Worldly men are wont to hide the future from their
view. Death is to them, (at least while prosperity is their loi,) a
subject of disturbing roeditation. Until adversity, or pain, or
bereavement may have produced despondency, and death be at
the same time ignorantly regarded as the termination of struggle
and want; until this state of mind be produced by suffering, un-
godly men love to throw the soft hues of delusion over the com-
plexion of life, and to think of death rather as a solitary fact than
as the commencement of a new series of facts, in connection with
God and Eternity. Such men put away the contemplation of
death, and dread to look its results fully in the face. The animal

VOL. II.-1

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courage indeed which they evince as to the simple fact of death, is the result of ignorance rather than thought; while the anticipation of its approach is an unwelcome intrusion upon present enjoyments.

And really, this is very intelligible. This world is the object of their affections. Hence to contemplate the loss of that object, is to them a very adequate source of distress. A Christian views the loss of these objects without uncasiness; not because he draws from them less enjoyment, but because God has revealed to him higher objects, round which his better affections have been wou to cling. Die loves to contemplate death, not because he is wea of the present life, or because he can no longer take part in occupations, but because he has become intimately acquair with objects which are far more valuable; objects indeed cannot be fully enjoyed on this side the grave. He must possess them. Hence, though the previous struggle may be the end to which it leads is unspeakably desirable.

Wi prospect before him, to be reminded that the end of al is at hand," this to a Christian is not to throw a chilly sh the present, but rather to shed upon the future, a brightne can fling back its healthful rays even over the sicklia present. It stimulates him to the culture of mental so watchful prayer; and these are in themselves sourc consolation.

A Christian is never so happy as when he remem! distinctly his connection with God. The eternal lo his soul is his best and enduring inheritance: but so and the communion of prayer is the best medium with God. Hence he will gladly avail himself o which is calculated to quicken the dormant si hope, and to render eternity an idea more intim fully familiar with his mind. Such occasions, afforded by the periods which mark out the life. The close of a day, of a week, of a yea his mind of the near approach of death and e Christians, I would employ the present hait of this intimation to us of the nearness of to you, as did the Apostle to thoge whomh

1. THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HA II. And I would suggest, in the secon

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The end of all for it; my accounts iraid; my home and lay any thing to the tifies; who is he that her that is risen again, vod.” “Lost in myself; man,' in my own esteem; God and glory; and under ileged to say, " Come, Lord ū be God, I thus know the tand. I know I shall not be

hristian. It is not the security im of spiritual pride. It is rather and the grace of God. sider more particularly the practical · The end of all things is at hand." ich unto prayer." 1 prayer, are indeed at all times the st; but they have a very close and dijortness of time, and the near approach

i is that temperate use of all earthly things, shuts up the character of the individual, either to condemnation or to acquitta). What inay be the nature of the human lot between death and the resurrection, God alone knoweth: but cer tainly death brings the end of all things” into real contact with him who suffers it. As he is in death, so will he appear in the judgment. He will rise to receive either salvation or condemnation. Then shall every man be rewarded according to his works." What a solemn thought is this—66 The end of all things is at hand." The Christian will not shrink from it. I

may

be within a year, a month, a day, an hour, of eternity! Within the duration of a few hours, I may quit forever all the interests of this world, all the sources of outward good, and the means of outward joy! I may stand as in a moment before the bar of God; I may be encircled by that blaze of light before which the disguises of hypocrisy will wither away! I may be confronted by that eye which pierces at once to the soul, and which spears at one instant ten thousand accents to the heart! Am I prepared for that scrutiny? Am I ready for that judgment? Is all safe with my soul? Is all well and happy in my present intercourse with God??

These are considerations very affecting to a Christian; and these are questions from which he will not turn away.

A true Christian is indeed a wondrous character. He is allied to God, and he knows the nature and strength of that alliance. He is one who knows the foundation on which he stands to be a rock, against which every adverse wave shall beat in vain. He is a child of God, made such by the sovereign grace of God; « chosen in Jesus Christ;" called from the mass of an ungodly world to be adopted into the family of heaven, and to be made there a joint heir with Christ, of honor, and immortality, and joy. lle is sanctified and set apart for God, and his body is become the temple of the Holy Ghost! His sins are pardoned; his name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life; he is training up amidst many trials for final glory; and though it doth not yet appear what he shall be, yet he knows that when his Saviour shall appear, he sha!l appear with bim in glory.” Hence he is fully persuaded that his main interests lic secure in Christ, unassailable by any power either of earth or hell. 6 All things are his, and he is Christ's, and Christ is God's." Such a man may reasonably conteinplate in peace the near approach and the full results of death. To him the approach of eternity and the ruin and wreck of the present system, is a contemplation

very solemn indeed, but very joyful. lle must lose to gain; he must die to live. The bankruptcy of carth must precede to him the heritage of heaven. This sustains the Christian under the closer inspection which he makes of the frailty of human things. He is not a gloomy philosopher who mocks the sufferings of his fellow, and who loves to live amidst images of woc. No; he is deeply serious. He looks forth upon the wide world, as Noah might have gazed upon the swelling waves of the deluge. He was doubtless appalled by the dark scene of utter dessolation; but he knew his own safety— God had shut him in;" and the ark could not founder; the promise of God was the pledge of its safety.

Thus the Christian contemplates, if with awe, yet in peace, the breaking up of all human schemes, and societies, and pleasures, and gains, and losses. He anticipates the wreck; but he feels himself to be in the ark. In Chirist he is secure, and he smiles amidst the spreading blackness of the storm. “The end of all things is at hand!” “Be it so, I am prepared for it; my accounts with earth and heaven are settled; I am not afraid; my home and my heritage are with God.' " Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifics; who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, and who is even now at the right hand of God.” “Lost in

myself; worthless; yea, verily“ a worm, and no man,' in my own esteem; yet am I in Christ a child and heir of God and glory; and under the shelter of that covenant, I am privileged to say, “ Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" Yea, blessed be God, I thus know the firmness of the ground on which I stand. I know I shall not be disappointed.'

Such is the confidence of the Christian. It is not the security of enthusiasm. It is not the dream of spiritual pride. It is rather faith in the power, the integrity, and the grace of God.

11. But let us go on to consider more particularly the practical influence of the declaration,_-" The end of all things is at hand.” “ Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Sobriety, watchfulness, and prayer, are indeed at all times the Christian's duty and interest; but they have a very close and direct connection with the shortness of time, and the near approach of eternity.

Ist. Sobriety of mind is that temperate use of all earthly things,

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