Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

they think not of the coming evil. This, you know, has been the case ever since the fall of Adam, who first brought sin, and its companion death, into the world; and you are sure will continue to be the case as long as the race of man remains upon the earth. Recollect, and number over, I pray you, my brethren, the relations, and friends, and acquaintances, which you had a few years ago, and see what crowds of them are now no more. Think how many of the number have been cut off in the prime of life; or taken away by a sudden stroke; or removed out of the world after a few days illness; or surprised in a course of sin; or called away in the midst of their daily labours! And such may be the case of every soul before me. Against myself, who am now exhorting you, or against the youngest and strongest who now listens to me, may the sentence be pronounced," this night shall'

66

thy soul be required of thee," and the end of all worldly things shall come upon thee. That night shall close round thy head, in which "no man can work ;" and all that thou hast loved or feared, been troubled about, or delighted with, busied in, or been anxious for, shall cease for ever. This view of the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the time of his coming,

which common experience places before our eyes, is confirmed by scripture. The Bible is full of warnings, that "we must all die." GOD himself pronounced this sentence upon Adam and all his posterity: "In the sweat "of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till "thou return into the ground; for out of it "wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and "unto dust shalt thou return." And the prophet Isaiah, and the patriarch Job, have given us this description of the shortness and uncertainty of human life: "all flesh

[ocr errors]

is grass, and the goodliness thereof is as "the flower of the field. The grass "withereth; the flower fadeth: surely all

flesh is grass." "One dieth in full "strength, being wholly at ease and quiet;" " and another dieth in the bitterness of his "soul, and never eateth with pleasure: they "shall all lie down alike in the dust, and the "worm shall cover them." As holy scripture thus tells us plainly that we must all go hence sooner or later, and may be called away before we are aware; so it gives us many solemn exhortations, that we should endeavour to prepare ourselves for the fatal "Whatsoever thou hast to do," says the wise man, " do it with all thy "might; for there is no work, nor device, "nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave.

event.

"whither thou goest.' "Watch, there"fore," says our blessed LORD, "for ye "know neither the day, nor the hour, "wherein the Son of Man cometh." To which St. Peter adds, "the end of all "all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I hardly need explain to you, my brethren, what the word sobriety means, in its common signification. You are sensible that the sober man, commonly speaking, is he who refrains from the disgraceful sin of frequent or occasional drunkenness; who does not lose his senses, nor bring himself into the condition of the beast that perishes, by strong liquor; who avoids the publichouse, as he would shun the pit of destruction; who shuns the company of loose and disorderly people, that think of nothing but intoxicating themselves; and who, instead of being always abroad, wasting his time in revels and debauchery, ruining his worldly success, and injuring his family, spends the hours of rest from his labours in his home with his wife and children, and is a good husband, a good father, a good neighbour, and an honest man. On the other hand, you are aware, that he who is not a sober man, is the contrary of all this. He is fre quently seen in a state in which he has wil.

fully deprived himself of his reason. His companions are idle and profligate people. His haunt is the place where he pays dearly for converting himself into a madman. His family is neglected; his religious duties are despised; and his whole behaviour (the certain consequence of his flying from the house of GoD) is immoral, riotous, and disorderly. Such are the striking differences between those who practise sobriety, and those who do not practise it: appearances which suffi ciently explain both the nature and conse quences of the virtue, in the usual acceptation of the word. But, my brethren, St. Peter's meaning extends beyond this; and when he tells us to " be sober, as the end of all things is at hand," he did not mean to confine the injunction to a mere forbearance from the sin of drunkenness, (which is only a bodily sin,) but to extend it to the mind; and to recommend to christians that seriousness and reflection, which become creatures like ourselves; who are not only sinners, but liable to be called away every moment, to give an account of our sins at the bar of an eternal GOD. If a man were about to set out on a long and distant journey, he would not, you know, spend the last few days, before he departed, in thoughtlessness and folly, in sport and amusement; but would

66

be busied in making preparations for it; would consider calmly what he might have occasion for on his expedition ;; and think seriously how he might perform it with most convenience, and at least expense. Were another man about to enter into a farm of considerable rent, and great extent, he would no, certainly, divert his thoughts from the important object before him, and waste his time in trifling or foolish pursuits, which had no connection with the estate he had taken: but, on the contrary, would take much thought about his new speculation; he would bend his chief attention to it; and would calculate, and consider in his mind, what plans he could adopt, what course of husbandry he could pursue, and how he should proceed, in order to pay the rent of the estate, and to render it a profitable bargain to himself. In short, he would become sober-minded; that is, thoughtful and considerate, with respect to the matter in hand, His attention would be almost entirely occu pied by it; and nothing would be able to call it off for any considerable time. Now, my friends, this is exactly the disposition of mind which St. Peter recommends christians to encourage, in consideration of the hour of death, or "the end of all things "being at hand," We are all shortly

« AnteriorContinua »