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This was not our original destination. The Authour of our nature, at first, animated our bodies with the breath of immortality. He put within us a principle of life which was so vigorous that it would have defied the revolution of times and of years ever to have destroyed or weakened it's force, and contrived with so much skill, that, nothing foreign to itself could interrupt it's harmony. But sin destroyed this divine principle, and overturned this happy order. order. Death followed close

upon it's steps. Adam became mortal as soon as he became a sinner. By sin, says the Apostle, death entered into the world. When death is thus certain and inevitable, what should attach us to life, or lead us to a forgetfulness of our last hour ? If only a few men were exposed to the stroke of death; if it might or might not happen, there could be some room for doubt and suspense : but in such a situation as the present, what image should be more familiar to our thoughts than that of death? The criminal who is condemned to die, wherever he turns his eyes, sees nothing but the dreadful apparatus for his execution. Whether we have a longer or shorter time to live, it makes not, surely, so great a difference

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that we should ever consider ourselves as immortal.

The period of death, it must be confessed, is uncertain. The

The ravages of this spoiler are confined to no stage of life.

He is equally an enemy to the bloom of youth, and the hoary head of old age.

Some seem born, but to die, and like the flowers which wither as soon as they are blossomed, just open their eyes to the light, look about them, and then drop into the dark mansion of the grave.

Others are stopt in the middle of their course ; and, while yet flourishing in youth and vigour, like the king of Judah, seek in vain for the remainder of their days. Others grow up in peace to a good old age ; see their offspring flourishing around them, and spreading their branches far and near ; and, heirs of the blessings of ancient times, descend, by slow and easy steps, into the house appointed for all living. But, if self-love and sanguine expectations did not deceive us, this uncertainty, instead of lulling us asleep, is the very thing which should lead us to watch without ceasing. Should a misfortune which may happen every day be more disregarded than that which will happen only at the end of a certain period of time? Should

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we possess our souls in peace as if we were never to lose them, when they may be demanded of us every moment ? A danger which is always near makes attention the more necessary

In the common affairs of life, we would be at no loss how to act in this case : but, in matters of religion, there seems to be a fatal stupidity attached to the soul which prevents us from making a right use of our faculties. The conduct of that servant, in the gospel, who made use of his master's goods, as if he was no more to render an account of them, upon pretence that his Lord delayed his coming, and that he knew not the hour of his arrival, must appear to every man the greatest folly and imprudence. These things were written for our instruction. Such tives as these does Jesus make use of to awaken our diligence, and to cause us to regard the things which belong to our peace, ere they be for ever hid from our eyes. “ therefore ready also,” said he, “ for the Son “ of man cometh at an hour when ye think " not."

2. We ought, constantly, to be on our guard, and in a state of preparation for death, because otherwise we shall inevitably meet with a fatal

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surprise. This is not one of those rare and uncommon accidents which a regard to our own peace of mind makes it more prudent to despise than to provide against. Vain are the terrors of those who live in continual fear, that, the thunder will come forth to blast their devoted heads ; that an earthquake will bury them in the ruins of their habitations, or that the shipwreck shall consign them to the watery tomb. The singularity of these calamities makes them terrible, but at the same time the less to be dreaded. The surprise of death, on the other hand, is perfectly familiar to us. Every day affords us examples of it. Almost all men have seen the tyrant approach to claim them as the subjects of his dominion, when they still believed him at a great distance : and, with all their attachment to life remaining, with all their strong passions unconquered, and with all their extensive projects unfinished, they have seen some hurried into the land of silence. This was the fate of that rich man in the parable, (Luke xii. 20) whose ground brought forth plentifully, who pulled down his barns and built greater, and who said to his soul, “Soul thou hast much goods laid up for

many days: take thine ease, eat, drink, and “be merry.” But God said unto him, “thou “ fool, this night ihy soul shall be required of “ thee; then whose shall those things be “ which thou hast provided ?” But we need, only, look to those of our relations, and friends, and acquaintances who have gone

before us to the world of souls, and this truth will be brought nearer to ourselves. They have almost all quitted the stage suddenly and unexpectedly. We have been surprised at the quickness of their death : we have sought for the causes of it in the want of assistance, in the imprudence of the patient, or the unskilfulness of the physician ; but the true and proper reason is this, that “the day of the Lord cometh as a thief “ in the night.” Human life is an unceasing warfare. To-day we may have escaped from the fight ; but we have seen many fall by our side, who expected, as well as we, to come home in safety. We must return to the field to-morrow : there is no rest in this combat; and, if fortune has been unfavourable to others, we cannot suppose that it will be always favourable to us alone. One day we must fall in this battle, and, surely, it must be the height of folly, to indulge in security, or to build a settled habitation on that spot where others will soon dig our tomb.

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