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pressions of grief take the strongest hold of the mind. There is a time when solitude has a charm ; when cheerfulness gives place to melancholy; and when the house of mourning is better suited to the soul than the house of mirth. Even our amusements of ten partake of a serious turn. For the sake of amusement, we give our attention to histories of wo; we sit spectators to the scene of sorrow, and devote the hours to melancholy and to tears. And yet, by a strange perversion of mind, though we rush into foreign wo, and take delight in weeping for the fate of others, yet our own departure excites little attention or regard, notwithstanding the many warnings which tell us that here we have no continuing city. Although few weeks elapse without being marked with the fu. neral of a neighbour or a friend, we remain in a criminal indifference; the tear is soon dried upon our cheeks, and we muse upon the fate of our friends with unconcern. If, by removing the thought of death, men could remove the day of death, their conduct, would admit of an excuse. But whether you think of it or not, death approaches, and the want of preparation will only serve to sharpen the sting, by the surprise with which it may strike.
Since we know then assuredly, that God will bring us to death, and to the house appointed for all living, let us consider, in the first place, the certainty of its approaching soon; secondly, the time and manner of its arrival ; and, thirdly, the change which it introduces.
In the first place, let us confider the certainty of death's approaching soon.
All the works of nature, in this inferior system,
seem only made to be destroyed. Man is not exempted. There is a principle of mortality in our frame, and, as if we were only born to die, the first step we take in life is a step to the grave. It was not always so. Adam came from the hands of his Creator perfect and immortal. The Almighty created man after his own image. He planted in his frame the feeds of eternal life, to grow and flourish through a succession of ages. This noble shoot, which the hand of the Most High had planted, was blasted by sin. When man became a sinner, he became mortal.
The doom was pronounced, that, after few and evil days, he should return to the dust from whence he was taken. Since that time, as soon as our eyes open on the light, we come under the law of mortality, and the fentence of death is passed. In the morning of our day, we set out on our journey for eternity; thither we are all fast tending ; and day and night we travel on without intermission. There is no standing still on this road. To this great rendezvous of the fons of Adam we are continually drawing nearer and nearer. Our life is for ever on the wing, although we marknot its flight. Our motion down the stream of time is so smooth and filent, that though we are for ever moving, we perceive it not, till we arrive at the ocean of eternity. Even now, death is doing his work. At this very moment of time, multitudes are stretched on that bed from which they shall rise no more. The blood is ceasing to flow; the breath is going out ;) and the spirit taking its departure for the world unknown.
When we look back on our former years, how many do we find who began the journey of life along
with us, and promised to themselves. long life and happy days, cut off in the midst of their career, and fallen at our side! They have but gone before us ; one day we must follow. O man! who now rejoicest in the pride of life, and looking abroad, sayest in thy heart, thou shalt never see sorrow, for thee the bed of death is spread; the worm calls for thee to be her companion; thou must enter the dominions of the dead, and be gathered to the dust of thy fathers. If then death be certainly approaching fast, let us learn the true value of life, If death be at hand, then certainly time is precious. Now the day shines, and the Master calls us; in a little time the night cometh, when no man can work. To-day, therefore, hear the voice which calls you to heaven.
. « Now " is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.' “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy “ might; for there is no work, nor device, nor
knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither " thou goest.”
In the second place, we may consider the time and manner of the arrival of death.
Death is called in Scripture, the land without any order; and without any order the king of terrors makes his aproaches in the world. The commislion given from on high was, “ Go into the world : “ Strike; strike so, that the dead may alarm the lis
ing.” Hence it is, that we seldom see men running the full career of life ; growing old among their children's children, and then falling asleep in the arms of nature, as in the embraces of a kind mother; coming to the grave like a shock of corn fully ripe ; like flowers that shut up at the close of the day. Death walks through the world without
order. He delights to surprise, to give a shock to mankind. Hence, he leaves the wretched to prolong the line of their forrows, and cuts off the fortunate in the midst of their career; he suffers the aged to survive himself, to outlive life, to stalk about the ghost of what he was, and aims his arrow at the heart of the young who puts the evil day far from him. He delights to fee the feeble carrying the vigorous to the grave, and the father building the tomb of his children. Often when his approaches are least expected, he bursts at once upon the world, like an earthquake in the dead of night, or thunder in the serene sky. All ages and conditions he sweeps away without distinction; the young man just entering into life, high in hope, elated with joy, and promising to himself a length of years; the father of a family from the embraces of his wife and children; the man of the world, when his designs are ripening to execution, and the long expected crisis of enjoyment seems to approach. These and all others are hurried promiscuously off the stage, and laid without order in the common grave. Every path in the world leads to the tomb, and every hour in life hath been to some the last hour.
Without order too, is the manner of death's approach. The king of terrors wears a thousand forms; pains and diseases, a numerous and a direful train, compofe his host. Marking out unhappy man for their prey, they attack the seat of life, or the seat of understanding; hurry him off the stage in an instant, or make him pine by flow degrees : blasting the bloom of life, or, waiting till the decline, according to the pathetic picture of Solomon, “ They make the
“ strong men bow themselves, and the keepers of the s house tremble; make the grinders cease ; bring " the daughters of music low ; darken the sun, and " the moon, and the stars ; scatter fears in the
way, “ and make defire itself to fail, until the silver cord 66 be loosed, and the golden bowl be broken, when " the dust returns to the dust as it was, and the spir“ it ascends to God who gave it.”
In the third place, We have to consider the change which death introduces.
Man was made after the image of God; and the human form divine, the seat of so many heavenly faculties, graces and virtues, exhibits a temple not unworthy of its Maker. Men in their collective capacity, and united as nations, have displayed a wide field of exertion and of glory. The globe hath been covered with monuments of their power, and the voice of history transmits their renown from one generation to another. But when we pass from the living world to the dead, What a sad picture do we behold! The fall and defolation of human nature; the ruins of man; the dust and ashes of many gene. rations scattered over the earth. The high and the low; the mighty and the mean; the king and the cottager, lie blended together without any order. The worm is the companion, is the fifter of him, who thought himself of a different species from the rest of mankind. A few feet of earth contain the ashes of him who conquered the globe; the shadows of the long night stretch over all alike; the monarch of disorder, the great leveller of mankind, lays all on the bed of clay in equal meanness. In the course of time, the land of desolation becomes still more der.