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MANY and various, solemn and striking, are those warnings which the eternal Sovereign gives us of our approaching end. He speaks to us in his word; he speaks in the course of his providence; and his language is, Be ye ready. But, alas, how little are the generality of mankind disposed to regard the voice of God! How little concerned to lay up treasure in heaven, to have their hearts detached from the world, and to be found in Christ, without spot and blameless.
At the tomb of a departed friend, various of the most serious and interesting truths are suggested to our minds. A grave, when beheld in the light of divine revelation, is big with instruction. It reads us a lecture in the most emphatical style, on subjects of the greatest importance. It solicits, it demands our attention to those things which reason, which conscience, which God himself declares, of the highest possible moment to all the human race.
When looking into a grave, we can scarcely help reflecting on the shortness of time. Yes, my fellow mortals, in our present situation, if not sunk into brutal stupidity, we can hardly avoid adopting the language of Moses: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. For we cannot but subscribe the declarations of that venera
ble antient, who said, Man that is born of a woman, is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. So short, so uncertain is life!
And as our present situation reminds us of the shortness of time, so it loudly proclaims the vanity of the world. Here we behold the remains of an amiable young man, consigned over to the dreary mansions of the dead; the remains of one who was settled in business; whose circumstances in the world were easy, with a fair prospect of growing reputation and increasing substance. Yet, notwithstanding all these promising appearances, he is gone. His immortal spirit has taken her flight into the invisible state; and his body, after a long and painful illness, is a breathless corpse, is a prisoner of the tomb, and food for worms.
Nor is it a single object of mortality that we here behold. While in this place of sculls, where death. has erected his standard, and where trophies of his power abound, multitudes of such objects accost our eyes. We here live among the dead, and we tread on the dust of thousands. What then,-I appeal to the most inconsiderate among you,-what is the world with all its pleasures? What is time with all its enjoyments? To a creature formed for eternity, to man that must quickly die they are empty as a bubble, and fleeting as a shadow; in their enjoyment, very unsatisfying; in their continuance, absolutely uncertain. Be wise, then, ye children of this world; be wise, and pursue nobler objects; or else Omniscience will pronounce you fools; death will beggar you for ever: judgment
will publish your shame, and sink you deep in eternal ruin.
Nor can we attentively view a coffin, a corpse, and a grave, without being struck with a sense of the evil, the dread eyil of sin. Whence those enfeebling langours, and racking pains, that afflict the body? How comes it that we are all exposed to the power of wasting disease, and to the stroke of relentless death? Whence is it that the human frame, which is the workmanship of God, and one of the fairest parts of the visible creation, should be liable to the foul dishonour and the abhorred putrefaction of a grave? Why is death so frequently making depredations among us? And why so constantly "calling for human carcases to mend the soil?" In the volume of inspiration the reason is obvious: for it is written, Sin entered into the world, and death by sin. And whence, but from the same dreadfully malignant source, proceed those painful reflections on the past, and awful apprehensions of the future, which are so common to men? Sin has unhinged the moral frame. Corruption and guilt are interwoven with our constitution. The understanding is darkened, and the will stubborn; the affections are sordid, and the conscience defiled. The baneful contagion has spread itself through the whole man.-Nor does the evil of sin terminate here. It extends to a future state. For, where grace does not interpose its benign agency, it subjects mankind to the curse of the law, and the wrath of God; to the damnation of hell, and the vengeance of eternal fire. Such, ye careless sinuers, is the nature, and such the demerit of your crimes. And give me leave to inform you, that death to an
unconverted man, is the officer of divine justice, commissioned to arrest and bring him to the bar of judgment; there to answer for his rebellious conduct against his infinite Sovereign.
Of what unspeakable importance is it then, to be ready for death! Ready, as interested in Jesus Christ; ready, as converted to him; ready, as waiting for his coming. Without an interest in his atoning blood, all our guilt must be upon us; which, like a mountain of lead, will press us down for ever, and render our immortal existence worse than the loss of being. Without his converting grace we have no relish for spiritual things, nor any capacity for heavenly enjoyments. A dreadful situation this! for any of you to die in it, is to lose your souls; is to die eternally. And if we wait not for the coming of Christ; if we live not in expectation of leaving the world; a sudden death may surprise and terrify us. It is, therefore, both our duty and happiness to be looking for it; to have our affections on things above; and to be ready to depart, at a moment's warning.
Such are the solemn truths which a corpse and a sepulchre bring to our minds. But when we consider ourselves as viewing the grave of a real Christian; of one who died in the faith of Jesus; and in a lively hope of a blissful immortality; we havè thoughts of a nobler kind, and of a more engaging nature, suggested to us. In such a case, we are led to reflect on the great, the astonishing, the glorious alteration which has taken place, in the state and circumstances of the deceased. For whatever pain or disease, whatever sufferings or sorrows, he might feel while in the body, he is freed, eternally freed