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mate ; or cluster together, and descend to the bottom of lakes, is equally uncertain, and what naturalists are divided in their opinions about. But not so is it with respect to man when he dieth ; for wherein reason is weak in this, revelation steppeth in to assure us, that man goeth either to heaven or to hell.
That all men would wish to be happy at last, is a desire founded in nature ; but that any are so at length, is wholly owing to grace. Many, nay, I may say all, desire, with Balaam, to die the death of the righteous, and to have their last end like his, Num. xxiii. 10, but few truly desire to live a righteous, and holy life. Nature alone may make a man request to die happy, but it is grace only that can make any desire, and really live the life of the righteous.
May it then be my care through grace to do so, that in the spring morning of eternity, even that wonderful morning of the resurrection, I may, with respect to my body, return from the dust with joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 8, to sing, with all the redeemed, the song of Moses and the Lamb, for ever and ever, in the paradise of God! : ii ii
The bright monarch of day having but a little ago disappeared in the west, darkness beginneth again to resume her ancient reign, and claimeth a primeval right; while the village bell calls the laborious husbandman from his toil, and invites the weary traveller to rest.
The herds forsake their dewy pastures, and with their udders richly fraught for the dairy, move lowing on, to be discharged of their most nutritious burdens, one of the chief blessings of Canaan ; and the woolly tribes are shut up in their folds.
The verdure of the fields darkeneth on the sight, while night spreadeth her sable veil over the face of nature. Where is now the pleasant landscape I so lately beheld ? It is lost to my view; and the warbling people, with their wing-covered heads, sit silent on the spray: only the bird of eve ushers in the gloom with her irksome solitary dirge, while labour reclines her head on the bosom of rest, and balmy sleep, endeared by toil, refreshes animal life.
And is this delightful day come to an end? O my soul, so shall soon the day of this life, and all its bustle, be silenced in the tomb. How much then doth it concern me, and all men living, to be putting by our work in our twelve hours ! O that while it is called to-day we might labour for the meat which perisheth not, but endureth to everlasting life, John, vi. 20, seeing the night of death approacheth, wherein no man can work; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave. Eccl. ix. 10.
This dewy evening, calm and serene, mindeth me of the close of a Christian's life in old age. Happy alone then is he, who, while his head is flourishing like an almond tree, can calmly reflect on a well spent life :* such shall come to his grave “ like as a shock of “ corn cometh in his season.” Job, v. 26.
As the Lord once said unto Jacob, “ Fear “not to go down into Egypt : I will go down " with thee into Egypt, and I will also surely “ bring thee up again,” Gen. xlvi. 3 ; so he will say, as it were, to such a one, “ Fear “not to go down to the dust of death : I will “ go down with thee, and I will also surely “ bring thee up again.”
But O how reverse is it with the hoaryheaded sinner, who hath spent his days in the pursuits of sin and vanity! Conscience, that was rocked asleep in the narrow, short, bed of carnal delights, in the close of life awakeneth from her slumbers like a mighty giant, and screameth ten thousand times more terribly in the ears of the guilty soul than that owl from the ruinous tower does in
* This did the great Addison when on his death-bed : grasping the hand of a young friend, he said, “ See with what peace 66 a Christian can die !"