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with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up."
But it may be said, that though we must admit the truth of this Scripture, respecting the suddenness of the Lord's coming, still it may not be in our day, nor in the days of our children; that eighteen hundred years and more have passed, since the Apostle wrote his prophecy, and yet all things continue as they were; that the earth is not so old but what she can still yield her fruits, and though to her inhabitants she hath added many hundredfold, yet hath God granted the means for their support, and with the increase of her children, multiplied her power to sustain them. And all this is
There is no immediate sign of the dissolution of the world: nor can any one say whether it will happen in his day or a thousand years hence. But, my brethren, this makes no difference in the value of the lesson given us in the text. The day of the Lord, whenever it arrives, will be of a sudden, when men are off their guard: it will come like a thief in the night: like the flood in the days of Noah ; like the fire upon unrighteous Sodom,-as Christ Himself as told us- -“In such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh."
But this is not all we learn from the text. The day of the Lord there spoken of, admits of a much closer interpretation than the one we have been
considering. It does indeed, in the largest, and most general sense, signify the day of judgment, but it also signifies and represents the conclusion of each man's life—the day of our death. That day is to us, for all purposes of salvation, the same as the end of the world. It matters not how long, after we are gone, God may permit the earth to endure, to us, in our silent graves one day, and a thousand years will be the same-no length of time will alter our condition-as the tree falls so it lies: and as we die, so shall we rise for judgment,-in the same body, with the same evil habits, and the same good habits, with which we leave the world shall we have to appear before the throne of Christ at the last to appear for which cause? Why? but you all must know it-to be judged according to our works to receive for the things done in our body, whether they be good or bad.
Is it not plain, then, that the day of our departure out of this life, is, for every important effect, identical with the day of judgment? Is it not plain to you that our account is then closed; our day of grace past, our doom fixed, though the sentence be not yet pronounced which must decide our lot for ever? Truly, my brethren, there is a lesson here which we cannot afford to neglect. Viewed in this light, the day of the Lord is ever close at hand-it may be that the Judge even now standeth at the
door of the shortness and uncertainty of human life, I need say nothing: I leave it to your own experience,-I leave it to you who have seen your children, your relations, your neighbours, borne swiftly to their long home, to determine on how frail a thread your existence on earth depends. That thread, the most unforeseen accident may snap asunder; there are sicknesses, and diseases which in a few short hours can bring down the strongest to the grave. Alas! of this truth we have had most painful proof, and that within a very little while. There are not yet three days since one of our number was called away by an almost instantaneous summons to appear before her Maker. It is but four short weeks, since a still more awful evidence of our mortality was afforded us-more awful on account of the circumstances that attended it.
And are these things which God does before our eyes to be disregarded? No, surely they are rather to be marked, noted, and reflected upon in a spirit of holy fear: in these, and in every other instance of sudden death, there is a warning message from the Almighty: a message to remind us of the frailness of our own life-so frail and so uncertain, that not the youngest and strongest can with any confidence affirm that he will be alive on the morrow. "O consider this ye that forget God, lest he pluck you away and there be none to de
liver you." God in His wisdom hath hid from your sight the real hour of your death, but He has given you no license to suppose that the time is far off. That hour, when it arrives, will, as has been seen, fix your lot throughout eternity, either with the angels in heaven, or with the tortured spirits in hell.
What, then, my brethren, is the conclusion obviously to be drawn from this knowledge? Surely it is this; that we should pass the time of our sojourning here in fear:" that we should learn so to number our days, as to apply our hearts unto true wisdom; and so be ready and prepared to lay aside the burden of the flesh, whenever our appointed time may come. And how are we to be in readiness? How are we to be prepared? The answer is given us in the Gospel: and it is one you must have often met with there-we must watch and pray,"-watch against the passions and evil temper, of our corrupt nature-watch against proud thoughts, and angry feelings, lest they get the mastery over us-watch against the growth of a worldly, and selfish spirit-watch against the tempter, and against every art by which he seeks to assault us from within; and watch also against his influence from without; watch against the scoffs and ridicule of the wicked and profane; watch against the force of bad example; against the en
ticement of alluring sins. And to watchfulness we must join prayer; else all vigilance will be in vain : we must pray to God for grace to enable us to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. We must pray Him to give us strength to resist sin, whenever, and in whatever form it may assail us-we must pray without ceasing, and always in the name of the Lord Jesus; begging God for His sake to have mercy upon us, to forgive us all that is past, and to give us both the will and the power henceforth to serve Him better.
Let us persevere, my brethren, in the practice of these great duties-duties I fear too often neglected even by those who call themselves Christians; but never neglected without great risk to our safety: let us then persevere in them with greater strictness, and we shall assuredly derive much benefit thereby; the more we watch over the thoughts, and intents of our hearts, the more sensible shall we become to our manifold imperfections, more awake to the attacks of our spiritual enemy; more impressed with the guilt of sin, and more keenly desirous of that saving grace which alone can cleanse us from its pollution; while the more fervently we intreat God for help, the more abundantly we shall receive it-the more power shall we have wherewith to oppose the evil, and to choose the good.