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On whom do you tread? On the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, the captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator. What are they now? A mass of dust. What have they been? The food of worms. Is it possible, that beings, destined to this end, should be proud ? It is possible. You and I are proud, as were once these wretched tenants of the grave; and are destined to the same humble, deplorable end. When, therefore, you contemplate, with high self-complacency, the advantages of person, which you possess, or the endowments of the mind; when you look down from superiority of birth, riches, character, or influence, on those below you, and your bosoms swell with the consciousness of distinction; remember your end, and be proud no more. Remember, that your gayest attire will soon be ex. changed for a winding-sheet, and your most splendid habitations
for the grave.
Remember also, that the pride, which you now indulge, will in the future world become to you a source of the deepest humiliation. In the grave, the beggar and the slave will lie on the same level with you. But in the future world, every humble child of Adam will become your superior. Unless you renounce
. your pride, and assume the humility of the Gospel ; the beggar, and the slave, in many instances, will rise to a superiority above you, higher than your minds can conceive ; and look down upon you with a contempt, and abhorrence, which, although you may deserve, you have never been able to feel. You, in the mean time, will sink to a depth of degradation, wbich your present powers cannot measure; and will feel yourselves lowered to a double depth by seeing those, whom hitherto you have only despised, elevated to endless dignity and glory. When the day shall arrive, which shall burn like an oven, all the proud shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
3. These considerations ought to remind us how near the solemn etents, mentioned in this discourse, are to ourselves.
, It is a propensity of human nature to believe, that the day of Death must be distant, because we wish it to be distant. This propensity is continually strengthened, like others, by indulgence; as is also the wish for its tardy arrival. In this respect we exactly resemble those Israelitish sensualists, whose character the Prophet Amos describes in this remarkable address, Ye that put far away the evil day; and like those, who said concerning the prophecies of Ezekiel, The vision, that he seeth, is for many days to come; and he prophesieth of the times, that are far off. As this propensity is indulged daily, and is checked only by a few peculiarly solemn Events ; such as our own sick. nesses, and the deaths of those, who are near to us; as all around us exercise the same disposition ; and as the subject is so gloomy, as never to be contemplated without pain, nor dismissed without pleasure : most persons rarely think of death at all; and, whenever this unwelcome subject intrudes into their minds, either force it out with violence, or forget it as speedily as they can. Hence so many of mankind, hence so many of us, make apparently little or no preparation for this solemn event.
What palpable folly is manifested in this conduct! Death is not the less near to us, because we choose to think it distant; nor the less interesting, because we disregard it; nor the less awful, because we lull our fears of it to sleep. We know that we must die: we know that death will terminate our probation : and are assured, that it will introduce us to the Judgment. Wisdom therefore demands, common sense demands, that we should make effectual preparation for death, by preparing ourselves for the Judgment. Among the means of accomplishing this work, few are so efficacious, as the solemn, habitual, realizing contemplation of these subjects. He, who daily revolves in his mind, and laboriously brings home to his heart, Death and the Judgment, will scarcely fail of very serious exertions to become ready for these affecting scenes.
Probably not a person, who is here present, will survive seventy years from this day. A great proportion will be in the grave, ascend to the Judgment, and enter upon the recompense of reward, within fifty years : not a small number within twenty: some, in all probability, God only knows how many, within ten, five, two, or even one. Where then will be our schemes of pleasure, pride, avarice, and ambition? Where shall we ourselves be? When we open our eyes on the eternal world, and mark the incomprehensible vast, which is before us; how strong will the reasons appear, which urged us to prepare ourselves for this amazing existence! How immensely desirable will it seem to enter upon boundless being with a complete provision for our comfort throughout its interminable ages : a provision, which will fill up every passing year with enjoyment, and leave an ample supply for the countless multitude which are to come!
Think, I bescech you to think, how soon the little time of life will be gone to you ; with what a rapid flight, hours, and days, and years, hasten over your heads. What is the amount of your past life? A moment. What will be the amount of your life, which is yet to come? Another moment. And then you will be summoned to the Judgment.
4. How awful must be the final interview.
How awful is the character of Him, to whose presence our souls will be summoned! From Him we derived our being. By Him, we are continued in being. On Him, we are dependent, for every blessing, and every hope. To Him, we are accountable for all our conduct. Of that conduct, He has been an eyewitness from the beginning. He is the God, against whom we have sinned; who infinitely hates sin ; and who has recorded all our transgressions in his book. He is our Judge: He is our Rewarder: His frown is hell: His smile is Heaven.
How amazing is the End, for which we shall appear at this interview! It is no other than to settle for ever the concerns of the soul. It is to fix our condition throughout the ages of Immortality. It is to render an account of all that we have done in the present life, that we may be rewarded according to our works. On this account, are suspended endless happiness, and endless misery.
How affecting must be the situation of the Soul at this interview! It stands in the presence of God, the Judge of all, alone ; without a friend to help; without an advocate to plead
a its cause; its all depending ; itself to be disposed of for ever.
Let me solemnly ask this assembly, Are you prepared for this awful event? Is your account ready? Is it such an account, as
you are willing to give ? Is it such an one, as you believe your Judge will accept? Would you be willing to render it this day? Are you willing to hazard your souls upon it; your acceptance ; your Immortality ? Or is it an account, which will cover you with shame, agony, and despair? Have you lived hitherto, only to do evil, to treasure up wrath, and to enhance your ruin? Is the great work of your life yet to be begun? Will it be still to be begun to-morrow; the next year; in old age; on a dyingbed? Has your whole course, hitherto, been directed, shall it through life be directed, towards perdition ; and not a single step taken towards Heaven?
THE REMOTER CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH.
1 CORINTHIANS XV. 16.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.
In the preceding discourse, I considered the immediate Consequences of Death ; in this, I shall begin an inquiry concerning its remoter Consequences. The first of these is the Resurrection of the Body.
The subject of this chapter, is the Avadracis, or future Existence of man. This word is commonly, but often erroneously, rendered Resurrection. So far as I have observed, it usually denotes our existence beyond the grave. Its original and literal meaning is to stand up, or to stand again. As standing is the appropriate posture of life, consciousness, and activity; and lying down the appropriate posture of the dead, the unconscious, and the inactive ; this word is not unnaturally employed to denote the future state of spirits, who are living, conscious, active beings. Many passages of Scripture would have been rendered more intelligible, and the thoughts contained in them more just, and impressive, had this word been translated agreeably to its real meaning. This observation will be sufficiently ilustrated by a recurrence to that remarkable passage, which con