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thought which presents itself to the mind, but abideth not; un apparition, a nothing before God.
But when we contemplate this life, in its relation to the great end which God proposes to himfelf, in bestowing it upon us, let us form exalted ideas of it.
Let us carefully compute all its subdivisions ; let us husband, with scrupulous attention, all the instants of it, even the most minute and imperceptible ; let us regret the precious moments which we have irrecoverably lost. For this shadow which passeth, this vanity which has nothing real and sohid, this flower which fadeth, this grass which is cut down and withereth, this vapor which melteth into air, this forgotten dream, this transient thought, this apparition destitute of body and substance, this nothing, this span of life, so vile and contemptible, is time which we must redeem, Eph. v. 16. a time of visitation which we must know, Luke xix. 44: a time accepted, a day of salvation which we must improve, 2 Cor. vi. 2 ; a period of forbearance, and long-suff ring, which we must embrace, Rom. ii. 4. a time beyond which there shall be time no longer, Rev. x. 6. because after life is finished, tears are unavailing, sighs are impotent, prayers are disregarded, and repentance is ineffectual. We proceed to deduce a
4. Fourth conclusion : a life through which more time has been devoted to the present world, than to preparation for eternity, corresponds not to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, when he placed us in this economy of expectation. We were placed in this state of probation, not to sleep, to eat, and to drink; we were placed here to prepare for eternity; if at least, we have not adapted these functions to the leading object of eternity; if we have not been governed by that maxim of St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 31: Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, we certainly have not conformed to the ideas which the Creator proposed to himself, in placing us under this economy of expectation and trial.
We were placed in this state of probation, not merely to labor for the provision and establishment of our families; we were placed here to prepare for eternity. If, therefore, we have devoted more of our time and attention to the provision and establishment of our families, than to preparation for eternity; if, at least, we have not adapted, to the leading object of eternity, our solicitude and exertions in behalf of our families, we certainly have not conformed to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, in placing us under this econumy of expectation and trial.
We were placed in this state of probation, not merely to govern states, to cultivate arts and sciences; we are placed here to prepare for eternity. If, therefore, we have not directed all our anxieties and exertions, on such subjects as these, to the leading object of eternity, we certainly have not conformed to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, in placing us under this economy of expectation and trial. Imagine not that we
. shall be judged according to the ideas which we ourselves are pleased to form of our vocation. We are under an economy of expectation and trial : time, then, is given us, that we may prepare for eternity. A life, therefore, through which more time and attention have been devoted to the pursuits of this world, than to preparation for eternity, corresponds - not to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, when he placed us upder this economy of expectation and trial.
This is our fourth conclusion.
5. We go on to deduce a fifth : a sinner who has not conformed to the views which God proposed to himself, in placing him under an economy of discipline and probation, ought to pour out his soul in thanksgiving, that God is graciously pleased still to lengthen it out. Let each of you who, on taking a review of his own life, must bear the dreadful testimony against himself, that he has most miserably deviated from the views of his Creator, present to God, this day, a heart overflowing with gratitude, that this tremendous sentence has not yet been pronounced against him: give an account of thy stewardship, Luke xvi. 2. It is for this that life ought to be prized as infinitely dear; for this we have unspeakable cause to rejoice, that we still behold the light of this day.
“ I have been in the world these thirty, forty, threescore years; and ever since I arrived at the exercise of reason, and felt the power of conscience, I have enjoyed every advantage toward attaining the know ledge, and exhibiting the practice of religion. Every display of mercy, and every token of fatherly displeasure, have been employed to reclaim me.
Not a book written to convince the understanding, but what has been put into my hands; not a sermon calculated to move and to melt the heart, but what has been addressed to my ears. My corruption has proved too powerful for them all. My life has been a tissue, if not of enormous crimes, at least of dissipation and thoughtlessness. If at any time I have shaken off my habits of listlessness and inaction, it was, usually, only to run into excesses, which have already precipitated so many precious souls into hell. When visited with sickness, when death seemed to stare me in the face, I seemed to behold, collected into one fatal nioment, all the sins of my life, and all the dreadful punishments which they deserve. I
carried a hell within me; I believed myself to be encompassed by demons and flames of fire; I becaine my own executioner, when I called to remembrance that wretched time which I had lavished on the world and its lying vanities; and I would have sacrificed my life a thousand and a thousand times to redeem it, had God put it in my power; I would have given the whole world to bring back but one.poor moment of that precious time which I had so prodigally squandered away : and God, in mercy ineffable, is still prolonging that day of visitation.”
6. Finally, we farther deduce a sixth conclusion : Creatures in whose favor God is pleased still to lengthen out the day of grace, the economy of long-suffering, which they have improved to so little purpose, ought no longer to delay, no not for a moment, to avail themselves of a reprieve so graciously intended. Creatures who stand on the brink of the grave, and who have too just ground to fear that they should be thrust into hell, were the grave immediately to swallow them up, ought instantly to form a new plan of life, and instantly to set about the execution of it. I conjure you, my brethren, by the gospel of this day, I conjure
I you by all that is powerful, all that is interesting, all that is tender, in the solemnity which we are now assembled to celebrate, and in that of last Lord's day; I conjure you to enter in good earnest into the spirit of this reflection, to keep it constantly in view through every instant of the years which the patience of God may still grant you, to make
. it, as it were, the rule of all your designs, of all your undertakings, of all your exertions. Without this we can do nothing for you. The most ardent prayers which we could address to heaven, on your behalf, this day, would be as ineffectual as those which Moses formerly presented in belialf of the children of Israel, to obtain a revocation of that awful doom : I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest, Psa. Xư:v. 11. But if, on the contrary, you are wise to admit the word of exhortation, we are warranted to hold up our wishes for your salvation, as so many promises sealed, with that seal of God which standech sure, and immediately emanating from the mouth of that God, the Lord who changeth not.
I have embraced with avidity, my dearly beloved brethren, the opportunity of contributing to the present solemnity, to come to you at a juncture so desirable, and to bring to you the word of life, at a season, when I am at liberty to unfold to you a heart which has ever been penetrated with a respectul tenderness for this city, and for this church. Deign to accept my affectionate good wishes, with sentiments conformable to those which dictated them.
Venerable magistrates, to whose hands Providence has comm tted the reins of government, you are exalted to a station which our devotions contemplate with respect! But we are the ministers of a Master whose commands control the universe; and it is from the inexhaustible source of his greatness, of his riches, of his magnificence, that we draw the benedictions which we this day pronounce upon your august heads. May God vouchsafe to inspire you with that dignity of sentiment, that magnanimity, that noble ambition, which enable the sovereigns to whom he has entrusted the sword of his justice, to found on the basis of justice, all their designs, and all their decisions ! May it please