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whose loss the bitter tear now falls, think you it would not be poured out, even to nakedness? Yes, indeed! But it will not do—we shall go to them, but they shall not return to us, till the heavens be no more.
As we are to live again, then, my hearers, let it move us to choose that good part, which shall not be taken from us, but shall endure and remain, when time shall cease to travel. And let it stir us up to diligence, to consider how fast our time is slipping away; how much we have already lost; how little may remain; and how great a work it is to change the temper of the soul, to break the power of sin, and acquire the qualifications of an inhabitant of heaven. My hearers ! it requires no effort to go to hell. It is a plain road, and we all are disposed by nature to walk in it. But to get to heaven, is a strait and a narrow way, which nothing but divine grace can enable us to find and strengthen us to persevere in.
To that grace, then, let us all turn with earnestness, assured by the promise of God, that if we ask we shall receive, if we seek we shall find. To remain careless and unconcerned for the awful alternative under which we draw our hourly breath; to risk the uncertainty of our frail existence, without preparation for death and eternity ; to meet hereafter, loaded, not only with our sins, but the refusal of offered salvation, through faith in a crucified Saviour; disregarding the reason of our minds, despising the open warnings of the ministers of Christ, and stilling the good motives of God's Holy Spirit, stirring in our hearts : surely this is not in the course which rational creatures should pursue-who know that they are to live again, and that their future life must be happy or miserable, according to the improvement or abuse of that which now is.
I come now, to conclude, with a short application of what has been said.
Solemnities of this kind, my brethren, as they bring our thoughts to bear and our feelings to act upon the common end of our being, are justified by the profitable use which may be made of them. Who that see this flourishing family surrendered to grief, and shrouded in mourning, but must realize the affecting truth, that they also, in their turn, shall become the occasion of mourning to their friends, or undergo the anguish of separation from what is dear and valued ? But, alas ! for man --poor, fallen, dying man! how ingenious and ready to apply the warning to others, and reject it for himself! How prone to let slip the good impressions of a serious hour, and put off till tomorrow, the convictions of to-day! But to-morrow—and tomorrow-and to-morrow-a few more or less, my friends, will usher in the morning of eternity ; when neglected warnings rejected opportunities, and abused mercies, shall press upon the conscience of the gospel sinner, with a mountain load of anguish and despair.
And is it so, my fellow-sinner? Does something now whisper to thy heart, that that day awaits thee, with all its unspeakable consequences unprovided for? If this be so, O turn not away from the friendly monitor, but let this day be the acceptable time to flee to the cross of Christ for life and salvation ! Consider how uncertain thy life is, at the best ; that though thou mayest live many years, yet they must come to an end, and the narrow prison of the grave close upon years, and honours, and enjoyments ; that nothing but the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, revealed in the gospel, can remove from man the heavy curse of living a little while here, in sorrow, suffering, and disappointment, to perish eternally hereafter; and learn to bless God for the mercies of redemption, and for the glorious hope assured by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Pause a moment, then, on the border of the narrow house, appointed for all that live, and ask thyself, my fellow-traveller to another world, on what thy hopes are founded, when this dream of life shall be changed for the realities of eternity ? Ask the surviving connexions of the deceased, on what are founded their hopes for her, and for themselves, and they will tell youl-yes ! this day of their calamity will open their hearts to feel and to saythat they are founded only on the mercy purchased and revealed to their faith by the LORD Jesus Christ; in the humble and joyful expectation whereof, they commit her body to the earth, and her soul to Him who bought her with His own blood. They will tell you, that those hopes are derived from the life and immortality brought to light by the gospel, in the steadfast faith
whereof, they trust she lived and died, and which, through divine mercy they hope to inherit with her, in that everlasting kingdom of unmixed happiness—where God shall wipe all tears from their
eyes, where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.
Oh! how vain and trifling are all the promises of time compared with this eternal recompence! And how strong the obligations to a religious life from the sacred ties of family affection! If husbands and wives, if parents and children, if brothers and sisters, if near relations and dear friends would secure the enjoyment of those holy connexions in their purest and highest degree, they must look beyond the present life. In the presence of God only shall be the full fruition of happiness. And Oh! how blessed the hope to those who are left behind, when, as in the present case, that hope is encouraged by the religious condition of the friend who hath left us ! Sorrow not, then, you her husband, her children, and friends, as those who have no hope ! God lent her for a season to those to whom she was so dear, and to set an example of faith and charity to all around her; but her meek and humble spirit was too timid and gentle for this rough world. He, therefore, took her to himself-to the pure and peaceful repose and security of the just in the separate state. By his grace he called her to nuinber her days, and prepare for the great account. She was made willing and obedient in the day of his power, and is now gone to her Saviour in whom she trusted.
Would you, then, join her in that state of pure and peaceful expectation of yet better things, to which, we trust, she has passed ? Would you escape the misery of eternal separation from one so dear and so valued, and from God the only good! Learn to view the present life in its true colours ; learn to use it as the uncertain period in which eternal life must be won or lost; learn to fear God and to keep his commandments. Thus shall you meet again in the heavenly Jerusalem, a rejoicing family made eternally happy in the enjoyment of God. Think, then, that you hear her calling to you, My dear husband, my dear children, my kind friends, disappoint not this holy hope, but press towards the mark for the prize of your high calling of God in CHRIST Jesus. Then shall we indeed live again, and sorrow and separation be known no more.
* To this sermon the following letter was found appended :
Williamsborough, May 17, 1828. MY WORTHY Friend,
In transcribing this sermon for you, which I have done very cheerfully, my earnest wish is, that it may be made profitable to your soul by the blessing of God.
The inquiry which it presents to the mind, is of the most concerning description, lying at the very threshold of religion, and rendering it a reasonable service, or a piece of mummery, according as the question is answered.
Few will answer it otherwise than in the affirmative, perhaps none, if they answer sincerely. But fewer still, it is to be feared, will do more than give their assent to it as a truth; neglecting to make that personal application of it to themselves which makes the truth effective. Against this, permit me to caution you, as I thought I perceived a disposition, rather to speculate on religious subjects, than to act upon them. I mean, that they exercise your thoughts as important subjects, but are not apprehended in their personal application to yourself as ground of immediate action. But, surely the veracity of Almighty God is sufficient for any man to found the duty of belief and obedience upon, and at our time of life (to-day I enter my 57th year) there is none to throw away upon speculation.
Ye believe in God, believe also in me, says our blessed LORD. And he here spoke what every man who considers what God is in his perfections, and what inan is in his imperfections, will be brought to the desire of, viz. : the interposition of some suitable medium of connexion and intercourse between beings so infinitely removed from each other, as a pure and holy God, and a corrupt and sinful creature. This Provision of the wisdom and love of God is what alone makes the contemplation of a future state bearable to us. Without such a Saviour as is given to our necessities, it is terrible to think of another life. Annihilation would be far preferable; there being no reasonable hope to man as he is, from God as he is, without a mediator equal to the requirements of the parties at variance.
This being so in the judgment of sound and sober reason, and confirmed by direct revelation, our part is clear; which is, to receive this truth, and to act upon it, working for life in the obedience of faith, and renouncing works as grounds of desert, relying on the merit and righteousness of the Redeemer as the safe ground of acceptance, and the only ground on which an imperfect and sinful creature, in his best duties, can entertain hope towards God.
May he direct your heart and life to Christ, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption !
Your affectionate friend,
JOHN S. RAVENSCROFT,
GOD IS WITNESS,
1 THESSALONIANS ii. 5, last clause.
"God is witness."
In meditating on the Christian system, my brethren and hearers, it is very wonderful to perceive how exactly it is fitted to the nature and actual condition of that creature, for whose advantage it is constructed, and for whose benefit it is revealed. So striking is this, that I have not the least doubt, were Christianity presented to us as a branch of natural science only, this peculiar feature would have drawn from the philosophers of every age that praise and admiration that earnest inculcation of the wisdom of its precepts—and that strong and united testimony in favour of its real influence on individual and general happiness—which is too often denied, or coldly and carelessly afforded, by the same persons when they view it as a divine revelation, and a law obligatory for life or death eternal, on every soul of man within the compass of its joyful sound. Strange that the wisdom of the world should be so averse to the wisdom of God, and that the very name of religion should take from truth and wisdom their highest character, and render them unpleasant and unpalatable to the hearts of men ! Yet so it is men who respect natural verities, and act with care and caution according to their results in the affairs of this life, feel disposed to resent and resist them when proposed and pressed as religious truth.
Of this melancholy fact, the proof is, alas ! too easy; and, in the meditations which arise from my text, presents one trait of human character in connexion with the application of the Christian system to the nature of man, from which we may derive profitable instruction.
We must all be aware, my hearers, of the influence which