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watchfulness over our heart and conduct, and such diligence in the discharge of our duties, that we may prepare to meet our God, and give our account with joy at his judgment seat? If such exercises and such a frame of mind would be suitable to one who had received warning of his speedy dissolution ; are they not equally necessary for all and every one of us who still enjoy both health and strength ? Have we not received the sentence of death within ourselves; “ dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return?” And so soon may it be executed, that for ought we know this night our souls may be required

of us.

Or if our lives are still prolonged, are not faith and repentance, the examination of our ways, and circumspection in our conduct; a serious sense of religion, with the worship of God and communion with him ; heavenlymindedness and abstraction from the world ; the constant practice of holiness and virtue; the exercise of kind affections towards others, and the right government of our own heart; sobriety, temperance and self-denial; together with the improvement of our souls in knowledge, and the frequent contemplation of death and judgment ;-are not these all requisite, however long we may continue in the world ; will they not be as necessary ten years hence, as they would be, if we should this night be called to give an account at the divine tribunal of all the deeds now done in the body? If we judge that these would be suitable for a dying bed, let us be persuaded now to acquire them, since we may not live to do it at a future period. Let us suppose ourselves arrived at our last hour, and just ready to leave the world, with what sins of the fleshı or of the spirit would our consciences accuse us, or what neglects of duty would then be most galling to our spirits? Let each of us ask our own hearts, whether we would not wish to renounce some of our unbecoming tempers, or vicious habits, before we die? If we are conscious of certain imperfections which still cleave to us, let us instantly endeavour to return from this error of our ways to the wisdom and obedience of the just; and give heed to the things which belong to our peace before they be

hid from our eyes. Let us repent since the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Since we must all die and leave this world, let us learn to withdraw our affections from it as much as possible, and not spend so much time in the acquisition of those treasures which perish with the using, as in securing those which endure to everlasting life. It is indeed necessary, while we sojourn in the body, to procure the necessaries of life for ourselves and our families; and therefore a due degree of diligence in our worldly avocations is required both by the laws of God and man.-But so immersed are we in the cares of the world and in the business of life, that we seldom find time sufficient to improve our minds in knowledge, and our hearts in holiness. Our souls remain uncultivated by the exercise of devotion, our hearts void of virtuous dispositions, and our lives unaccustomed to spiritual employments. Yet these are the only possessions which shall accompany us beyond the grave, for at death our worldly possessions shall be left behind us, and we shall then too late lament our folly that we have been anxious what we should eat, and what we should drink, and wherewithal we should be clothed, and toiled night and day to provide for the body, but neglected the cultivation and improvement of our minds, which are the only treasures which fade not away. Let us therefore moderate our attachment to worldly enjoyments, and choose that better part of spiritual edification and growth in grace, which shall never be taken away from us.

Finally, since death transports us to another world, where we must live without a body ; let us now learn to wean ourselves from those pleasures and enjoyments which can be our portion only in the present world, and direct our views to the employments of immortality. Let us think that in a future state, we shall be entirely depen. enjoyments of saints made perfect ; that we may be both inspired with fresh ardour to attain the heavenly inheritance; and that when we die and are gathered to our Fathers, we may be enabled to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of glory, which the Lord, the righteous shall give me,” in his heavenly kingdom.




Prov. IV. 23. Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are

the issues of life.

THE nature of man is a complex piece of intellectual mechanism, which it is necessary to understand, that we may know its capacities, and the proper manner of directing them. It is compounded of two parts very dissimilar in their properties, which are usually denominated the soul and the body. The body is a most wonderful structure of organized matter, formed by the hands of that Almighty Artificer who created all things, and for whose pleasure they are and were created. The soul is a sentient being furnished with powers which belong exclusively to a spiritual nature, and so united to our corporeal frame as to make use of its members, and organs, and senses, for the purpose of perception, of thought, and of action. By its necessary connexion with, and dependence on the body, the soul is often obstructed in its operations, and even contaminated in its faculties. For our sensitive appetites, which minister to our animal existence, are so powerful in themselves, and so interwoven with those higher powers we possess as intellectual beings, that the former often counteract the decisions of the latter and

become so violent and impetuous, as often to excite our mental energies, without suffering us to listen to reason and conscience, which are given to direct us in the way we should go. The affections, likewise, are frequently placed on objects unworthy of regard; and even when employed on such as are desirable, seldom confine themselves within the bounds of moderation.

This, we find, from experience, is the state of human nature; containing in its composition various propensities, inclinations, and desires, sometimes impelling us with irresistible fury, at other times controuled by the salutary restraints of our governing faculties.

Though we have thus lost that due subordination of the sensitive to the rational powers in which consisted the perfection of our nature in its primitive condition, still our moral constitution remains the same, and may be repaired in a great degree by that religious discipline which God hath appointed to renew us in the spirit of our minds, and create us again in Christ Jesus unto good works. We still have the light of understanding to teachi us our duty, we have reason to distinguish between good and evil, we have conscience to check us in the career of sin, a will which may be disposed to obey God's commandments, and the power of habit which renders that obedience easy and delightful. We have moreover, the influences of the holy Spirit to help our infirmities and strengthen us with might in the inner man; and are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Furnished with such capabilities of spiritual improvement, it is expected by our Creator wl.o hath stationed us in this world of probation, that we should exert those faculties with which he has endowed us, to promote our improvement in knowledge and goodness. These are talents which he hath committed to our trust, for the emplovment of which an account will be required of us at his judgment-seat, where each of us shall receive according to our works. As it is only by the right regulation of our mental powers, that we can advance to that degree of excellence which can render us meet for the heavenly inheritance; it may tend to our edification and instruction

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