Imatges de pàgina
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his spiritual state alone engrosses him-the language of humiliation and confession-the consciousness that in simplicity and sincerity he has sought to serve his God and Saviour, and in some good degree has discharged the holy duties of the Christian life, will inspire him with confidence and hope. Thou, my God and Saviour, who knowest my heart, knowest indeed its weakness and imperfections, but knowest with what sincerity and fervour of desire it has endeavoured to serve thee. In all its afflictions, it has sought thee, as its only refuge; in all its joys, given thanks to thee for its felicity; and in all its wanderings, returned to thee, as its only satisfying portion. All the actions of my life are spread before thee, my Lord and Master. Alas! many of them testify to my weakness, and forgetfulness of my obligations to thee; all of them, if weighed in the scales of thy justice, thou wilt find wanting. Yet, blessed be thy grace, which inspired me with good desires, and enabled me to bring the same to good effect, thou wilt accept the imperfect but holy course of obedience by which I have sought to serve thee.'

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These are the emotions of humble, but firm and satisfying confidence, with which the Christian, taking a retrospect of that Christian life which death is about to terminate, reposes himself upon his God and Saviour.

And they afford him full supports under the conflict to which he is called.

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A conflict, indeed, which weak and sinful nature cannot view without dismay. We instinctively shudder at the pains and agonies of dying; we instinctively, and with every impulse of the soul, turn from the stroke that will separate us from all that here

interests us, from kindred and friends, from wealth, and pleasure, and felicity, and launch us on eternity. Reflection, which sometimes lessens the magnitude of other evils, only serves to increase the horror of dying, and to magnify the terrors of the stroke that terminates our course here, to introduce us to an endless state of being. Christian faith alone can support the soul in that conflict under which nature sinks; and this faith supports the Christian. He has arrived at the close of his earthly course; the retrospect of that Christian life which is now terminating, though affording no ground for boasting, yet testifying to the sincerity of his devotion to his Lord and Master, inspires the confidence that the Redeemer, whom he has served, will fulfil his gracious promise, and will be with him, to redeem him from death, and to ransom him from the power of the grave. The sting of death is sin; but that grace of God in Jesus Christ which hath enabled him to vanquish sin, hath plucked this sting from death the enemy is harmless; he is but the messenger that calls the Christian home-terminates the cares, the sins, the sorrows, the temptations that harassed his life here, and translates him to a life of never-ending purity, peace, and joy, in the mansions of his Father's house.

Brethren, from this conflict there is no escaping; and we know not at what moment we may be summoned to it. Ah! different from the picture which has been exhibited to you of a holy Christian course, is your course marked by indifference to the obligations of your Christian calling, or by the constant violation of them? Does it exhibit none of that penitence, of that holiness, of that engagedness in the service of God, to which the most so

lemn obligations bind us, and the most powerful motives urge us? We have then forfeited our baptismal privileges-the favour of God, and our interest in the mercy and love of the Saviour. In the conflict with death we shall be forsaken by him who alone can strip death of his terrors; the view of our sins, and the reflection on our guilt, will increase the pains and agonies of dying. A wounded spirit who can bear, even when health and prosperity fortify the soul?-a spirit wounded by sin who can bear, when death also inflicts his sting?

But if you continue faithfully engaged in the exercises and duties of the spiritual life, the scenes of death which await you, you should contemplate without dismay; for your Redeemer will conduct you through them. "Fear not," will be his language to you at the hour of your last conflict"Fear not, for I am with you; I, who was dead, but am alive again, and hold the keys of death and hell. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God."

Young Christians, we hold forth to you the termination of that Christian life on which you are to enter, in reference to the scenes of death; not to alarm you, but to confirm you in your holy resolutions of entering on the service of your God and Saviour, of fulfilling the holy engagements to which your baptismal covenant pledges you. Since the conflict with death is inevitable, it is surely your wisdom and your duty to prepare for it. Since you may be called to this conflict in a day and in an hour which you think not of, it is your indispensable wisdom and duty immediately to prepare for it; and the preparation is in your power. The preparation for death, too, is the preparation for

an honourable, a useful, and a happy life. It consists in the faithful discharge of those vows of devotion, of love and obedience to your God and Saviour, which you made, or which were made for you in your baptism. Sincerely assume these vows; and be it hereafter your study and endeavour to discharge those duties of the Christian life which they enjoin-and you need not fear death-whenever he comes, he will be a messenger of peace to you.

Nor need you then fear those more appalling scenes, in reference to which the termination of the Christian life is to be considered,

2. The scenes of judgment.

Awful are these scenes. The coming of the Son of man-the blast of that trump which sounds through the universe-the burning up of the earth -the melting of the elements-the passing away of the heavens-the dead, small and great, standing before God-the opening of the books-the wailing of the nations. Appalling scenes! dismaying events! Are they imaginary? Are they exaggerated? In the language in which they have now been set before you, they are described in the word of God. These scenes, these events will come to pass: you and I, my brethren, will, must witness them; and we may witness them undismayed. Have we entered on the Christian life? Faithful to the obligations which it imposes, have we renounced all sin, and followed after holiness -imbibing the pure and heavenly spirit of him by whose name we are called, and to whose service we are devoted-studying to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things, and to walk in all his

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commandments and ordinances blameless? The judgment of the great day will have no terrors to us. He who sits on the judgment-seat, mighty in power, is the Redeemer whom we have served, and who now comes to glorify himself in the salvation of his redeemed. "Come, ye blessed of my Father," is the language with which he will welcome us to the possession of the kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world. The last day need have no terrors for the faithful followers of Christ-it is the day of their redemption.

The ungodly, and the nominal professors of his name, whose Christian course has been marked by the indulgences and sins of their corrupt nature and an evil world, the last day will be to them indeed the day of terror; it is the day that seals their misery for ever "Depart, ye cursed," is the sentence with which they are doomed to everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Who that reflects on this termination of the Christian life, as it respects those who have faithfully discharged its duties, and those who have violated its obligations, can be indifferent in which way it will terminate, as it regards himself? For consider,

3. Lastly. Its termination, as it regards the scenes of eternity.

The Christian life, when its holy obligations have been faithfully discharged, will terminate in the enjoyment of the bliss of heaven-a bliss, to the full conception of which our present powers are inadequate. Those powers will then be enlarged in their capacities and in their operations, and perfected in their enjoyments. Truth, clear

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