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elements of death at work within yourselves? No, my brethren, we shall not undertake the proof of a proposition already .80 firmly established. And yet, though we may not deny it, we are certainly apt to forget it; or, if we do not forget it, we look upon it as a mere isolated fact, separate entirely from all those connexions and results which alone give it power over the human mind. Practically, death is a forceless thing; and we too frequently live as though Providence had given us a dispensation from its experience, and rendered us invulnerable to the shaft which must pierce every other bosom ; or, to say the very luast, we give the subject in our minds too little importance; neglect its application to ourselves, and act by it, as though familiarity with it had entirely changed its aspect, and taken away from it all its solemn relations and consequences, It is my business, then, to remind you of it; to secure for it your attentive consideration, in those views of it, which give to it its importance, and invest it with interest to man.
I. The first thought then upon which I would fix your minds, is the most obvious; death, is to separate us from this world, change our mode of existence, and break up all our present associations. There is, my brethren, an instinctive attachment to life, which God for the wisest purposes has implanted in our natures. We shrink back at once, no less from the thought than from the hour of our dissolution. Death is nature's most perfect abhorrence. There is something in the grave, the pall, and the winding sheet, something in the silence of that house appointed for all the living, something in the ravages to which our clay must submit, in the cold, damp, gloomy sepulcbre, to which we never can be reconciled. Reason about it as long, and as much as we please, we never reason away its repulsiveness, set it in whatever light, and dress it in whatever garb wo may, there is still the same appalling features standing out to the view. When we speak to you of death, we speak to you of the sundering of those ties which have bound that spirit to the tabernacle which it inhabits; we speak to you of that manly and vigorous form tottering to its fall; of that countenance becoming blanched, of that eye looking for the last time upon the objects in which you delighted, and then losing its brightness, and becoming glazed with the frosts of the tomb. No, God never meant that we should be reconciled to such thoughts and no influence can bring our feelings into harmony with such changes. Life indeed may have associations which render it insupportable, and which may drive a man to death, as a refuge from still greater evils; and the religion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as it presents in clear colors the bright scenes beyond the waters, may enable us to go down into the cold waves of that stream which separates us from yonder world of light and joy-but neither the concerns of the present life, nor the hopes of the life which is to come can even reconcile us to death, as
death-God forbid that they should do so, they should convert the tenants of this earth into suicides, and the world which they inherit into a charnel house.
It is not, however, a mere feeling of 'nature, which binds us to our present mode of existence.
We are here living in a scene of constant excitement, as our thoughts and affections are engaged with the objects by which we are surrounded. We have our plans, our enterprizes and our hopes. What living man has not some link to bind him to this world—some association amid which he wishes to muse—some object which makes present existence desirable? We have formed our schemes, it may be, for earthly aggrandizement, and we are engaged in their execution; or we are busy with our plans which contemplate earthly honors as their results; or we are surrounding Ourselves with a thousand earthly endearments, or we are mingling in scenes of joy, and painting the prospect of brighter joys to come. We know not, my brethren, how many, or how strong are the ties which bind us to this world, until they come to be sundered. But we shall very soon know, Whatever may be our plans, whatever the stage of their progress, death will terminate them; it will break up all our earthly asso. ciations however tender and interesting, and dissolve all our connections, shut us out from all these scenes, and put an extinguisher upen all these bright hopes.
The termination of any course of pleasurable action is painful; the last hour spent in familiar scenes, the last sight of objects upon which we have been wont to dwell with delight, always stirs up emotions of deep regret, even when we hope our separation from these scenes and objects is not to be perpetual, how much more painful must our feelings be when our adieu is an eternal one-when with our heads upon our dring pillow, we shall be forced to think, that yonder sun which has shone upon our pathway, shall to us, rise no more; our voice shall no more be heard among our fellows; the pursuits of time no more engage our attention, but while we are shut out from human view, the current of affairs shall run on as ever, and men shall tread upon our sepulchres, not knowing, or forgetting that we have ever been. It shall be so to all of us-Death will work out the demonstration of all I utter:
And yet these are the most unimportant and least interesting associations of the event, which we are now called 'to ponder. There is a connection between the present and the future, as : there has been the past and the present. Life is but the first stage of our being ; the second has yet to come.
We are now but rehearsing the parts, which we are hereafter to act in an eternal scene. Conscience no less distinctly forebodes a judgment, than do the analogies of things foretell a future.'
This life, therefore, is not only the stepping stone to another, but the scene of preparation for it. Here are to be formed
characters which are there to be confirmed : here we are to authorize actions, which are there to be punished or rewarded. We do not stop to prove this point, the evidence of which is so clear and strong in every man's bosom, that he can neither escapo r stifle it.
Taking this view of life, death is a subject of intensely interesting thought to us, whatever may be our character and relations. If so far as our own personal interests are concerned, we are ready to abide its issues, so that death will not extinguish our hopes and blot out our joys; yet it will bring to a close all our opportunities of earthly usefulness. The very nature which God has given us shows most clearly, that he never designed we should live for ourselves exclusively. The social principle of our being, as it prevents men from occupying entirely isolated positions, brings them within circles of reciprocal influence. Every member of society acts upon some other member of society, and when God converts a man, he consecrates his social influence to sanctified ends. The constitution of society, as God bas announced it, is wonderfully evincive of his wisdom. Religion breaks up no natural associations, and sunders no natural ties. It is easy to perceive that if a line, a palpable line of separation, were drawn between the religious and irreligious, if the order of society was such, that the moment a man became a Christian, all bis connections must be dissolved. and new ones, purely religious in their character, formed, not only should the influence of the Gospel keep society in a state of constant revolution, and change, but the circle of religious influence should be very much circumscribed. As it is, “the salt of the earth” is much more generally diffused than at first sight we might imagine it to be. The line of spiritual separation runs through the nearest and dearest' relationsbips of human life--human beings are linked together by the strongest ties of blood, affection and interest, who spiritnally stand at a great remove from each other-whose sympathy mingle upon every other subject, save this one of religion. Were it otherwise, as in all probability it should have been, had the circumstances of men been of our arranging, we can see that the opportunities of Christian influence and usefulness had been very much dimipished in number. Now there is not one of us for whom God bas not opened channels in which his influence may run, and to whom he has not given opportunities for usefulness. There is not probably, a single Christian whose relations do not furnish him with an ample field for Christian enterprise. And how, if we are the true disciples of the Son of God, can we be otherwise than thankful under the influence of the thougbt, that scarcely a day passes without furnishing us with some opportunity of doing good. ! : sBut, my brethren, death, is, in this respect, to change our circumstances. Then all our influence is gone, as we are re
moved from the sphere in which alone it can find room for play: and if there is anything which can embitter death to a child of God, when he may be confident of his own personal safety, it is the thought, that as he departs, he is leaving behind him some whom he loves, and whose state reproves his own unfaithfulness, and whom he must meet again, and whom he may meet at the judgment seat, unreconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
But, my brethren, if it should be otherwise with ourselves, so that we are not able, personally, to abide the issues of this. trying hour, then death comes to blot out all our hopes, and to extinguish all our joys. It is so, because, now, and here, under the influence of the Gospel, the arrangement of Providence, and the dispensation of the Spirit, we may prepare for the world which is to come. No man who is out of Christ would ever disparage his present circumstances, by a comparison of them with a world of retribution. He feels that now there is hope, which then there will not be, and if his mind has anything like correct views of his position and relations, he can enter into the meaning of the poet as he sings
" While God invites, how blest the day,
How sweet the Gospel's charming sound.”
But do we not know that death will change this scene. Are not our very circumstances, as they define our probation, constantly heralding their own change? Does not every Sabbath's Bun, as it rises and sets upon us, tell us of the time when it shall rise and set no more? Oh! what a wonderous change will death make in a sinner's position. The light of this holy day, which speaks of hope, never breaks in upon the darkness of the sepulchre; nor does the voice of mercy's messenger interrupt its silence; nor do the movements of the Spirit disturb its deep repose ; all that the human mind, in such a state, after death knows of hope, is embraced in the recollection of its former brightness and promise; all that it knows of means of grace and recovering influence, is found in the memory of their abuse and rejection.
While death thus blots out all the hopes of the unbeliever, it at the same time extinguishes all his joys. The facts upou the subject of human happiness in this world, are precisely the reverse of what we should have supposed they should be, reasoning solely from the character of God in ignorance of his plans and purposes. The actually existing state of things has more than once staggered human faith. "As for me," said the Psalmist, “my feet had well nigh slipped, when I beheld the prosperity of the wicked." It is not to be denied, that sinful man has many enjoyments in this world. It is perfectly idle to say, as we look over a festive circle and see the cheerful
countenances, and hear the merry peal and vivacious laugh, that there is no enjoyment there—the whole scene would contradict There inay be some hearts concealed under those gay exteriors, but for the most part those who compose that circle, are for the moment in a state of pleasurable excitement. And so, too, abounding wealth and popular applause are sources of great happiness to unsanctified bearts, and such as judge only from outward appearances, are apt to look upon this world's votaries, as the monopolizers of enjoyment. We bave, however, here only the front view of the picture ; .examine it more closely, and you will see in the background the angel of death advancing, and one and another of these figures moving through the scene, are dropping at his touch, and these happy souls in quick succession are exchanging all their hilara ity and high excitement for the sorrows and the darkness of an eternal night. Thus the world is moving on, day after day, perpetually changing its phases. Thus end every day in more or less numerous instances, all the joys which the world can give. If we take this earth for our portion, it is our only portion, and however large it may be, it is soon to be wrested from us, and then the buman mind is left to feed for ever upon reflection; and the only word of consolation, if consolation it can be called, which falls upon the ear, is this—"Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivest thy good things.” “Death, what a melancholy day to those who have no God."
There is one more view to be taken of the subject before we have done with those of its relations and aspects which give it interest and importance. Death is but the coming of the Lord. The time, the circumstances, the manner of our dea parture, are not left to fate or lawless contingency. We are too prone to look at death solely as a natural event, something which takes place in accordance with a law of physical necessity. In one sense it is a natural event, as nature is sinful, but in every other sense it is the most unnatural event that takes place in God's Kingdom ; and every man feels it to be so, and and his emotions in view of it, require some other explanation than such as the laws of nature furnish. We may talk like philosophers upon the subject, but we feel like men; and after all, this is the thought which gives death its power—it is the appointment of heaven-it is the coming of God to the soul. "Do we doubt it? Need we be told by wbose order death desolates all our joys ? Can we for a moment barbor the supposition, that a universal law, whose operation no skill can evade, no power interrupt, to which there have been no exceptions, but such as have displayed the presence in his wondrous Sovereignty, of Him who alone can control his own Jaws, is the offspring of contingency or the creature of chance? Is the being in whose nostrils God breathed the breath of life, housed in the grave without his knowledge, and become the