But is all this care and watchfulness necessary for every one that hopes to be happy when he dies? Most certainly so. What I say unto you, (saith our Lord,) I say unto all, Watch. And, indeed, it cannot be otherwise. For how can we hope to go to the place of just men made perfect, but by following their steps; by becoming in some measure perfect as they were?

My meaning and the truth is this:-Before we leave this world, as ever we hope to go to a better, our nature must be changed; we must put on, as the apostle speaks, the new man; that is, we must endeavour, by the grace of God, to be restored to that integrity in which man was at first created, and which was lost at the fall, by which we are become weak, sinful creatures. Our business in the world is to be restored to this condition again, that we may be fit for the company of angels, and the souls of just men made perfect.

But how must this be done? Why, first, by forsaking every evil way; then by watching, and standing against all temptations to sin, which we are sure every day to meet with; by denying our own desires, which would lead us to dishonour God; and, because we have nothing in ourselves to trust to, by earnestly and daily begging of God to give us new hearts, new desires, and greater strength, and better resolutions than we have by nature; by endeavouring every day more than other, to wean our affections from the things of this world; by thinking often of the shortness of this life, and

* Eph. iv. 23.

of the eternity of the next, of the joys of heaven, and of the pains of hell. Lastly; by exercising ourselves in acts of piety and charity, that we may thereby recommend ourselves to God for greater degrees of grace here, and for a favourable sentence at the day of judgment.


So that you see, good Christians, we have no reason to despair. While we are alive, we have reason to hope that God has not forsaken us for But then let us, like men awake and in their senses, resolve to redeem the time we have lost, and which was granted to us for working out our salvation; remembering, that when once time is lost, it can never be recovered, if we had the world to give for it. And let us not flatter our hearts with thinking, that because the day of judgment may be a great way off, that therefore we are a great way from danger; for it is undoubtedly true and plain from the sacred scriptures, that as soon as ever we die, the souls of good men are by the angels carried into Paradise, a place of peace, rest, and happiness; for so was the soul of Lazarus, and so was that of the penitent thief:-on the other hand, the souls of wicked men are carried to a place of misery, as was that of the rich man:both the one and the other to be kept either in peace or in misery, unto the judgment of the great day.

Well then, what I have hitherto said comes to this:-This short life is our appointed day, in which to work out our salvation; the night -that is, death-cometh, when no man can work. If death overtake us before we have pre

pared ourselves for it, we are for ever undone. The time of our death is hid from us, that we may be always thinking of it, always preparing for it. That we may not forget the only thing for which we came into the world, God has hitherto spared us, and puts us in mind of our latter end by a thousand instances. Some are every day going out of the world, of all ages and conditions, by all manner of ways, by sudden and untimely deaths; some young; some in their full age and strength; and much the fewest in a good old age. Nay, every day that we come to the house of God, we tread upon the the graves of those that have already received their doom, whose souls are all confined to their proper places of happiness or misery. And will not this affect our hearts? I am sure it ought, and make us seriously think within ourselves, that very, very soon, this must be the case of every one of us here present.

Consider what it was that made our Lord to weep over Jerusalem; why, the temporal calamities he saw the stubborn Jews were bringing upon their own heads: he saw how their city would be laid in ashes, how they themselves would be starved with famine, how that at last they would all be murdered, or sold for slaves. But what is all this to the misery of being for ever separated from God; of having our portion with evil spirits, which are kept in chains and darkness unto the judgment of the great day; and who at that day must hear these dreadful words, Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.

Why now, my brethren, the same Spirit which foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem, and which came exactly to pass; the same mouth which forewarned them, has also given us warning of what will befall us when we die, if we are not renewed in the spirit of our minds while we live. It is therefore necessary, very necessary, that these truths should be often sounded in our ears; forasmuch as a spirit of slumber has seized upon the world, and men live as if they were never to die, or as if after death they were to have no being. It was just so with the Jews, before their final destruction. And do not think, my brethren, that these things are nothing to us; the frequent admonitions they had, their blindness, their obstinacy, their punishment, are all written for the admonition of every private Christian, who must expect the same fate, if he takes the same way to deserve it.

To conclude:-The consideration of these things very much concerns every one of us here present.

It concerns myself, lest when I have preached them to you, I myself (as the apostle speaks) should be a cast-away.

It concerns the very youngest persons who hear me, that they may beware of falling into a wicked course of life, which shall harden their hearts, and blind their eyes, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God by which they were sanctified.

It concerns such as are in health, and in the prime of their years, lest sickness, calamities, and death, should come upon them unawares.

And nobody doubts but that it concerns such as are old, for their appointed time can not be very long.

As for such as are ignorant of their duty, and know not how to walk, and to please God, it concerns them to look out for better instruction, lest they pass their days in ignorance, and die in their sin.

For such as hold the truth in unrighteousness; that is, who believe and know their duty, and yet live like heathens that know not God; it concerns such to look about them, lest in a very short time they have their portion with devils, who believe as well as they, but yet for their rebellion tremble under the dreadful wrath of God.

Lastly; it concerns every body, even the very best of us, to take notice, that this is the day of visitation.

God visits every one of us: to such as are ignorant he sends instruction by his ministers; to such as are careless, he sends his judgments to awaken them; to such as are at ease, he sends calamities; and to wean our affections from this life, he often visits us with sickness.

He visits us by his Holy Spirit. Such as fear him, and are dejected, he comforts them; such as are weak, and pray to him for help, them he strengthens; to such as have made good use of the graces he has bestowed upon them, to these he gives more grace; and from those who go on to abuse his mercies, he takes away what before he had given them.

In one word; in this instance of the Jews, every Christian may see his own destiny.

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