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iour cautions us, "Let not your hearts be overcharged with the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, lest the day of the Lord come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come on those who dwell on the earth." The Apostle instructs us, that we must not so care for the things of the world, but that we may attend on the Lord without distraction. We must have secular cares; but not encumber ourselves with such a weight, nor distract ourselves with such a multiplicity of cares, as shall absorb our thoughts, engross our time, and fill our minds with temporal anxieties; for thus we shall either shut out the special duties of piety, or attend upon them in a heartless, hasty, superficial manner. Even good Christians are sometimes too much swallowed up in the concerns of the present life. At such times they are not in the best preparation to pass to the other world. They have not so bright evidence of their title to heaven, as they would choose, nor are they in the best frame for entering into a world entirely different from this. If they viewed death as just at hand, they would set their houses and their hearts in order, and call up a more devout and spiritual frame. If death should surprise them in this negligent and disordered state, it would come in an evil time. It is the wisdom of the Christian, while he is diligent in the duties of his calling, to watch against the ensnaring influence of earthly objects; while he lives in the world, to live above it; while he employs his hands in its works, to keep his heart pure from its pollutions. "The end of all things is at hand; be ye sober and watch unto prayer." "The time is short; buy as if ye possessed not, and use the world as not abusing it." "Let your moderation be known unto
all men; the Lord is at hand."
2. Death comes in an evil time to those, who are engaged in the pleasures and amusements of the world.
However innocent we may suppose common diversions to be, when used seasonably and moderately, yet none would choose to be employed in them at the hour when death approaches. If they be not inconsistent with the habitual temper of piety, (and we cannot say that they are) yet at least, while they last, they are incompatible with those devout sentiments and feelings with which we should choose to pass from this to another world; and it is well, if they leave not on the mind a coldness to the pleasures of religion. The good Christian, wherever he may be, is near to heaven. But who had not rather pass from his closet than from a ballroom-from the sanctuary than from a hotelfrom the humble exercises of devotion than from the gay amusements of company, to the general assembly above, to the society of saints and angels,. and to God the Judge of all?
3. Death comes in an evil time to those who are unprepared.
May we not fear that it comes to many of such a character? Alas! how awful must be the conse-quence. There is no work in the grave to which they go. If death surprise them in their guilt, their sins will remain in them, and the wrath of God abide on them. This is the day of salvation; to this succeeds an endless retribution. In the other world, there are no offers of mercy; no calls to repentance; no striving of the spirit; no promises of pardon. How deplorable, then, the state of those, to whom death comes, before they have obtained the pardon of their sins by repentance, and secured a title to salvation by faith in the Redeemer ?
Are there not many, who view themselves as still impenitent and unpardoned? If the snares of death should now fall on you, Would they not take you in an evil time? These snares you cannot pre
vent; but you may prevent the evil of them. Immediate repentance of sin, and humble application to the mercy of God in Christ, are your only security. What your hands find to do, do it with your might.
I have illustrated the several observations contained in our text. And your attention to them, and improvement of them, are solemnly urged by, the affecting providence which you have lately seen in this place. An event so awakening and impressive has seldom been known in this vicinity. Four amiable maidens, in the bloom of youth, in the sprightliness of health, in the cordiality of mutual friendship, and in the cheerfulness of innocent amusement, without previous apprehension of danger, were suddenly plunged into deep waters, and there lost, irrecoverably lost. No efforts of their own could extricate them, no pitying hand could reach them. No human power could rescue them. How dreadful the surprise, when the vessel in which they trusted, filled and went down! How distressing the scene to the spectators, who, summoned by the shrieks of distress, hastened to the spot, but stood impotent on the shore! How overwhelming the spectacle to
*On Saturday the 15th July, 1809, about 5 o'clock P. M. four young Jadies, three of them from 15 to 16, and one about 11 years of age, were drowned in Congomond Pond, in Southwick, viz. Julia Stratton, daughter of Mr. John Stratton, Jun. Mary Langdon, only daughter of Lt. Roswell Langdon, and Charlotte and Orpha Cannon, daughters of Mr. Clark Cannon, all of them inhabitants of Southwick. With a view to collect pond lilies, they took a small boat and pushed to a little distance from the shore; and, as is conjectured from some concurring circumstances, she who held the setting pole, which was short, making an effort to push forward the boat in a place where the bottom was unexpectedly out of her reach, fell over; the others running hastily to the stern for the relief of their companion, by their weight and irregular motion, turned the boat in such a manner, that they fell out after her. Several people soon came to the place, among whom was Mr. Cannon the father of two of the young women, who was at work a little distance from the pond, and heard the lamentable cries of his beloved children; and attempts were made to save them, but without success. The bodies were recovered; one in about 20 minutes; and others in not less than 2 hours. The means used for their resuscitation were ineffectual. Their bodies, the next day, were all, in separate coffins, laid side by side in the same grave.
friends and relatives, to parents, to him, who, after repeated unavailing exertions to save them, to save two daughters of his own, yielded at last to despair! How shocking the intelligence, when it reached the families, to which the lovely maidens belonged! Literally in them were verified the words of our text. "As the fishes are taken in an evil net, and the birds caught in the snare; so were they snared in an evil time, when it fell suddenly upon them."
Ye distressed and mourning parents; we compassionate you; we pray for you. But what shall we say to comfort you?-We can speak to your ears; God only can speak to your hearts. In the multitude of your thoughts within you, may his comforts delight your souls. Look up to him by faith and prayer. He is the fountain of consolation. He has wounded, and he can heal. He has laid his rod heavily upon you; but his hand can support you. You know, and you have lately felt, how a father pities his children; so the Lord pities them who fear him.
Realize his sovereignty, and say, He gave, and he has taken away. Adored be his name. Call to mind his promises, and especially those which respect his children in affliction; and review your past experience of his providential goodness; and I hope I may add, of his grace to your souls. When trouble is near, he is not afar off. Let this day of sorrow be a day of self-examination. Do you love God more than these? Are your affections placed on things above, rather than on things below? Can you give up your mortal interests at God's call? Have you given yourselves to him to be saved by his grace, governed by his will, and disposed of by his providence? Have you been faithful in your domestic relations? Let conscious failures be corrected by future fidelity.
Be thankful, that God, who has a right to take from you all your children, has still left you some. May they live to be your comfort and joy. That you may rejoice in them, lead and guide them by your counsel and example in the path of wisdom and piety.
Think daily of the uncertainty of their lives, and of your own. Be prepared yourselves, and assist them to prepare for an event as solemn and sudden, as that which you have seen; for man knoweth not his time.
The suddenness of your children's death is a painful circumstance. Had they been removed by sickness, you could have attended upon them; you could have sat by their beds and given them your last counsels; you could have learned from them what were their views and hopes; you could have prayed for them; and stretched out a parental hand to lead them to the Saviour. These circumstances would have mitigated your sorrow. God has ordered their exit otherwise. Submit to his will. What he does, you know not now; but you will know hereafter. You still have comfort. They have been lovely and obedient children. Their manners have been pleasing to you, and agreeable to others. They were not driven away in works of wickedness, but in an innocent employment. You cannot accuse yourselves or them of any misconduct or imprudence as the cause of their death. Whether they were children of God by his renovating grace; what had been done for them before, or was done near the time of their exit, mortals cannot know, nor should you be curious to enquire. If you arrive safe to heaven, you will approve of the manner in which God has disposed of them. Your concern now is with the living, not with the dead.
The anguish, which you now feel, will abate with time; but see that you retain the serious impres