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The words of my text point out to you
the melancholy circumstances of the writer, and under the contemplation of what event these arrangements were made: "For I am now
ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.”
This, my brethren, is all that we know of the end of St. Paul : it is pregnant with instruction, and capable of personal application to all of us, no less than confirmatory of the faith which we profess. If our bodies are not to be offered up to martyrdom, they are doomed to dissolution : and so uncertain is the tenure, so short the lease by which the soul holds possession of them, that we may also add : the time of our
departure is at hand.” O may we then have the same hope and consolation as the Apostle! May each be able to say to himself in modest confidence, (for there will then be no disposition to boast,) “I have
fought a good fight, I have finished
my course, I have kept the faith,” in practice as well as profession, in obedience as well as belief: “henceforth there “ is laid up for me a crown of righteous
ness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not “ to me only, but unto all them also that “ love his appearing
b 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
2 PETER i. 13, 14.
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle,
to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.
It is a maxim of worldly prudence, that you may know a man by his companions : and to a certain extent the maxim is true, though the occurrences of human life may sometimes throw an individual temporarily into the society of persons whose principles and conduct he does not precisely adopt. With fewer exceptions, perhaps, may it be laid down as a rule, that you may know what the past life of a man has been by witnessing his conduct nearly at the close of it-on the approach of death. My text presents you with one of the first of Christ's disciples and adherents in that situation. He is shortly to put off his earthly tabernacle; and what is his conduct under such an impression ? That he should relax in his endeavours to propagate and confirm the Gospel of truth, that he should plead the privileges of old age, of exhausted nature, and a constitution impaired by fatigue and persecutions ? No: but that he should only the more sedulously employ the residue of his life and strength in the work whereunto he had been called, that he should leave nothing undone. How few are the objects of worldly desire that will thus continue to stimulate to action to the remotest verge of life, to that point at which we take leave of the world and all its pleasures, and all its possessions, for ever and for ever! My last discourse presented you