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day, the things, which belong to our peace, lest they be hidden from our eyes."
Our subject demands a most serious attention. If you hope, that you are of that happy number, whom Jesus, when he comes, will admit into his kingdom, enquire, whether your hope is well founded. The foolish virgins had the same hope; but against them the door was shut. Do you possess the qualifications, which entitle you to admittance, while the door is open? Have you that penitence of soul for sin, that faith in the divine Šaviour, that habitual purity of heart, by which you can appropriate the promise of eternal life? Are. your hearts attempered to the gospel, and your lives governed by it? Perhaps you can look back to a time, when, you think, you received the grace of Christ, and presented yourselves as chaste virgins to him. The foolish virgins could do the same. But they were deceived. They imagined, they had oil enough in their lamps to keep them burning till the bridegroom came. But they slept, and their lamps went out. The oil in them evaporated, and there was no supply in their vessels. Since you lighted your lamps at God's altar by a good profession, have you kept them burning? While the bridegroom has tarried, have you waited and watched for his arrival? Have you faithfully attended to the duties, which he gave you in charge? If he should come this day, or this night, would he find you doing his will, and ready to go in with him to his feast?
It concerns all to live under an impression of the uncertainty of life. There is a door of hope now open; but the time is near, when it will be shut. They who are ready will be admitted into the house of the great king; others will be excluded. When death has shut the door, it will no more be opened.
We are now beginning a new year. God's mercy has held open the door, and invited us to come in, and his patience has waited till this day. The invitations of mercy have been urged and pressed upon us by solemn warnings. We have seen death often near us. Can we review the past year, and say, "We have stood with our loins girded, and our lamps burning, and, in the faithful performance of the work appointed us, have waited our Lord's coming?"
The door is open still, and still the call of mercy is continued. Let us lay hold on the hope set before us. What may be the events of the year now begun, is a matter hidden from human foresight. As there have been in the year past, so doubtless there will be in the year to come, many removals from among us to the invisible world. And who can say, his own departure is not at hand? Let us this day take a review of life, repent of every sin, commit ourselves to the Saviour, and make a solemn dedication of ourselves to him.
Ye who are young, consider your ways, and turn your feet into the paths of wisdom. This you will find to be pleasantness and peace. Promise not yourselves many years to come. You know not what this may bring forth. If you have not begun the religious life, begin it with the year-begin it today. "If you desire many days, that you may see good, keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile; depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, but his eyes are upon the righteous." And come, my friends, come soon, come before another communion, and, joining yourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, seal this covenant at his table. Thus you will confirm your pious resolutions—thus you will encourage and excite one another to love and good works.
Some of us are now about to sit down at the Lord's table. Here we are to renew the covenant, which we have before made. Let us do it in sincerity, and be stedfast in the covenant which we here renew. We hope, that a door is open for us, and that we have secured an entrance into it. Let us by abounding in the virtues of the Christian character make our calling sure, that so we may never fall, but an entrance may be ministered to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Death inevitable, but the time and manner unknown.
For man also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
advice can be more important, or founded in better reason, than that which Solomon gives in the words a little before the text. soever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest." The present is the proper season to cultivate religious knowledge, to acquire heavenly wisdom, to do good to mankind, and to secure the happiness of immortality; for we are all hastening to the grave, which will forever terminate our short and uncertain space of probation. No worldly interests or designs should divert our attention from the concerns of the future life; for every thing relating to this world is small in its importance, and uncertain in its issue. "The race is not to the swift, nor the VOL. I. Y y
battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill." If we make some good progress, and have a fair prospect of success in our temporal pursuits, yet in the midst of them we may fail; for life is always uncertain. We cannot know the day or the hour, when death will arrest our progress and break our purposes. "Man knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them." them." What folly-what presumption is it, then, to neglect or postpone the mighty interests of the future world in regard to the precarious and trifling interests of the present?
The several truths suggested in our text, though too little contemplated, are too obvious to be denied, and too serious to be neglected.
The Preacher remarks, The uncertainty of the time of death; "Man knoweth not his time."
The secret manner of its approach; "As the fishes are taken in an evil net."
The impossibility of deliverance, when the snare falls; "As the birds are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared."
The suddenness of death; "The snare falleth suddenly upon them.”
The evil time when the snare falls; "The sons of men are snared in an evil time."
I. Solomon here reminds us, that the time of ev. ery man's death is uncertain to him; "Man knoweth not his time."
There are some circumstances relative to death, which every man fully knows.
He knows the certainty of it. He has no more doubt, whether he shall die, than whether he now exists. However averse he may be to the thoughts of death, he never calls in question the event.