« ZurückWeiter »
Isaiah xxxviii. 1.
Set thine house in order : for thou shalt die,
and not live.
Such was the solemn warning, sent down from the King of Heaven to the best and holiest prince of the royal line of Judah; conveyed by a mighty prophet of the Lord, and suspended afterwards in mercy for fifteen years. Such, also, is the stern decree, which even now the angel of Death may -be commissioned to execute upon some who are assembled here—on one or two perhaps before, another sabbath shall return, on all ere long. To us, however, no prophet will announce its near approach ; no time may be allowed to us, as to the king of Judah, “ to turn with our face to the wall. and pray unto the Lord, and weep sore ;” it may “come as a thief in the night;" the “last enemy
that shall be destroyed ” may urge us with resista less power to the verge of the yawning gulph, and then- one fearful step—and the disembodied soul shall wake in the midst of the world to come!
I know not, my brethren, whether your thoughts have been led to this awful subject, so frequently as they ought to have been, within these hallowed walls; if they have not, the fault is mine, but not wholly, I trust, without excuse. It is the office of the ministers of Christ—and woe be to us if we discharge it not—to endeavour, by our exhortations, to arm the christian soldier with the “shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” Our duty also, no less than our inclination, calls upon us to cheer the timid, to revive the faint, and to support the weary, followers of their Lord, with the prospect of the recompence, and the rest, that remaineth for ever for the people of God-while at other times, trembling for ourselves, and our own salvation, we must endeavour to persuade men with the terrors of the Lord; to point to the Almighty arm, which hath power to cast both body and soul into hell; and thus, as it were, to “ pull men out of the fire," that they may be såved.
And when this is done, we are willing to hope,
at least, that enough is done-willingly would we draw a veil over the last convulsive struggles of mortality; and forbear to speak of the chamber of death, the knell of the parting soul, and the long deep slumber of corruption in the grave. It is painful to speak, to many more painful than edifying to hear, of this mysterious and revolting degradation of our mortal frame. When the eye of faith is calmly fixed upon the glories beyond the grave-upon the “ bright and holy city of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb, in the light of which the nations of them that are saved shall walk for ever”-it is, at best, an ungracious task to recal the glance which is cast upward to the summits of Zion, and bid it gaze below on the cloud which is resting still on “the valley of dry bones," and will rest there, even to the eye of the best and purest, till the dew of heaven shall descend upon them, and the “bodies that dwell in the dust shall awake and sing."
It may be our wish, our only wish, when this mournful theme is chosen, to impress you with a conviction of the frailty of the life that now is, and to bid you “remember that you are but dust." But how few there are, whose thoughts wander not from themselves, and their own mortality, to the remembrance of those whom they have loved
and lost to the distant who never máy, to the dead who never can, be seen again till they meet in heaven! We may admonish our hearers to follow the example of the great apostle, and to .66 die daily,”-to prepare, by anticipation, for their own last hour, which, by a sudden derangement of the fearful and wonderful mechanism of life, may come and pass like the lightning's flash, ere one can say, it lightens !
Such may be the design, but not the effect, of our solemn warnings ; we may unconsciously tear open the wounds, which are bleeding yet; we may too forcibly recal those harrowing scenes, which many have gone through, and all must expect to witnessthe withered form, and the wasted hand, and the faint farewell, of one who loved us better than we shall be loved on earth again and all those fierce realities of the primæval curse, which drown for a time even the accents of religious hope, and bow man down to the dust in the bitterness of his soul. Instead of considering their own approaching end, the heart of the parent may be yearning for his lost child, the desolate widow for the husband of her youth—and when we would bid them “be wise and consider this,” the voice of wisdom is unheeded; when we would breathe the consolations of the gospel, we find that we