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here, for years past ? Have any children and youth, any where, become more stupid, hardened, profane & obstinate in wickedness, than those, who are now before me and who have often heard my warning voice? How much soever I may have failed in the discharge of my ministerial office for forty six years. I have not designedly been negligent, in warning, admonishing & reproving children and youth, as occasions have occurred. I have been so uniform and constant in this part of my duty, that both the young and the old have often anticipated reproofs and taken pains, either not to hear them, or resist them. And though they have so often and so long resisted ; yet I do not regret the exertions I have made to awaken and convince and convert and restrain the children and youth. But whether I have met with the concurrence of others in my exertions, so much as ought to have been afforded, I leave to the serious consideration and reflection of professing parents and professing Christians, and every one, who regards the temporal and eternal good of the rising generation. But is there no hope ? Most certainly there is. I can remember the time, when some of the best Christians, now before me, were vain and thoughtless youth.
God arrested them in their career, changed their hearts, compelled them to come in and unite in building up his cause. The present children and youth are not beyond his reach. The voice from the dead and from the living, this day, may do what has not been done for years past. Though there is much ground to despair of veteran sinners, there is still. ground to hope, God will raise up from the children & youth a generation to serve him, when we, who are aged, are laid in the dust.
DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE.
Psalm, cii. 24.- I said, O my God, take me
CII not away in the midst of my days.
It is uncertain when David presented this petition to his Creator and preserver ; but it is natural to suppose, that it was at a time, when he viewed himself apparently exposed to the stroke of death. It seems by what he said just before he made this request, that he was in a low and languishing state of health and apprehended that he was gradually drawing near to the grave. He felt that his strength was weakened and therefore expected his life would be shortened ; and under this impression, he prayed that God would not take him away in the midst of his days. Though he was a good man and habitually prepared to leave the world ; yet he seems to have been reluctant to dying in the meridian of life. And who is there now in the midst of his days, that feels no reluctance to going the way of all the earth ? Neither the young, nor the old,
, whether in a state of nature, or of grace, are generally so unwilling to go off from the stage of life, as those, who are in the midst of their days. If those, in the decline of life, were to look back and compare their past and present feelings upon this subject, they would undoubtedly find, that they never had so strong an attachment to life, as when they were in their own view in the midst of their days. Since that period, many things have occurred to wean then from the world.--But though mankind are so reluctant to being taken away in the midst of their days ; yet this reluctance is no security against the stroke of death, even in that stage of life. David knew, that God had a right to cut short his life and take him away from all his fond hopes and expectations and prospects, in the midst of his days.--This right God sometimes exercises ; for what Job says is often verified. “One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. His breasts are full of milk and his bones are moistened with marrow." It is, therefore, a plain truth and worthy of our serious consideration,
That God does take away some in the midst of their days, though they are then the most unwilling to die. I shall,
I. Show that those, who are in the midst of their days, are generally the most unwilling to die ; And,
11. Show that nevertheless, God does take away some in the midst of their days, as well as in any other period of life.
I. I am to show, that those who are in the midst of their days, are generally the most unwilling to die.
It is not necessary to say, very exactly, who are in the midst of their days. Estimating the period of human life at threescore years and ten, we may consider all those in the meridian of life, whose age is between thirty and fifty years. In these twenty years, mankind are generally the most capable of acting their various parts on the stage of life. And it is in this period, that they are generally the most attached to living and the most averse from dying. Generally, I say, because there may be exceptions to this opinion. There are so many changes in the outward and inward state of mankind, that some in the earlier and some in the later period of life, may be the most unwilling to die. These things being premised, I proceed to observe,
1. That those, in the midst of their days, have the strongest expectations of living. They have been in deaths oft. They have been sensible of the danger of losing their lives, ever since they can remember ; but yet have always escaped the arrow of death. They have often been visibly exposed to accidents ; but have always escaped those, that are fatal. They have often been sick and sometimes dangerously so ; but have always happily recovered. All these recoveries from sickness and escapes from danger have had a natural tendency to create hopes and expectations of living and still escaping future dangers and diseases. Whether their bodily constitution be slender, or robust, they place more dependance upon it, in the meridian, than in any other period of life. They have known by experience, that they have outlived many who were younger and stronger and perhaps, in many respects, more likely to live, than they. And when they look around them, they find, that much the largest class of the living are like themselves, in the meridian of life. All these circumstances are familiar to them ; and they can easily and almost imperceptibly put them together, in order to strengthen and confirm their ardent and pleasing hopes of living. They are not alarmed, like the aged, at the shortness of life ; nor like the young, at desolating judgments and contagious diseases. No futal disorders, or accidents, or calamities, which fal]
upon those around them, destroy, but rather corroborate their hopes of long life. Now this fond hope of living naturally creates an aversion to dying. Those, who have the highest hopes and expectations of living, have the greatest reluctance to leaving the world, in which they wish to live. Whatever the hope of the living be founded upon, whether the prospect of getting or of doing good, that hope must render death a dreaded event. And since those, in the morning and meridiar of life, commonly and habitually cherish the most sensible hopes of living, they are, generally, of all persons, the most unwilling to bury their earthly prospects
in the grave.
2. Those, in the midst of their days, often wish to do a great deal more good in the world before they die. This was undoubtedly the desire and design of David. As he had defeated the army of the Philistines and put an end to a dangerous war, while he was but a stripling; so he still desired to serve God and his genera tion much longer in this world. He was now seated
on the throne of Israel and had an opportunity, if bis life were spared, to promote the best interests of a large kingdom. This made him deprecate, like Hezekiab, the cutting off of his life in the midst of his days. Paul was in a strait betwixt two, having a desire both to live and to die. If he had had only a desire to die, he would not have been in any strait betwixt two. But be had a desire to live, as well as to die; and his desire to live arose entirely from bis desire to do more good. This desire to do good arises to the highest degree of ardor and vigor in the breasts of good men, in the midst of their days, when they have the most clear, just and extensive view of things and feel the most capable of promoting the glory of God and the good of mankind. And the desire of doing good creates a desire of living and a reluctance to dying an early and premature death. Some pious persons, in the decline of lise, express a willingness to die, because they have, in their own apprehension, if not in the view of others, nearly or wholly outlived their usefulness. And when this is the case, it is a good reason, why they should be more willing to be dismissed from the cares, the labours and burdens of life and have liberty to rest in their graves. While on the other hand, pious young men are in a measure unconscious of their abilities to do good, when they shall arrive at the meridian of life. They have neither tried their abilities, nor extended their views, nor raised their expectations of doing much good in the world ; and therefore can be more
; easily reconciled to being taken away, while they have hardly begun to be extensively useful. But while the pious and benevolent are in the midst of their days and usefulness, their feelings are different in respect to dying. The prospect of living and their desire of doing more good to their fellow men, make them more unwilling to be taken away in the midst of their days. Nature and grace unite in giving them a peculiar re. luctance to going off the stage of action, before they have gratified their benevolent feelings.