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SERM. this to be the case, and that a very little XV.
time were sufficient, let it be remembered that of this little we are by no means certain ; the instances are not rare of persons cut off in a moment, in the midst of the highest health, and with the fairest prospect of a long life; so that, even in this view, it would be the extremity of folly to venture the happiness of endless ages on so desperate a stake as the continuance of human life.
But this supposition is wide of the truth. In vain shall we die the death of the righteous, if we are not willing to lead his life ; in vain, when we have neglected all our days to obey the commandments of our Saviour, shall we cry out“ Lord, Lord,” at the last ! Without holiness, we are assured, that no man shall see God. Is the acquisition of holiness the work of a moment? of a moment too, which fear, anguish, and not unfrequently distraction,
entirely occupy! “ What shall I do," said SERM.
V. the lawyer to our Saviour, “ to inherit eter“ nal life?” Thou shalt love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy strength, “ and with all thy mind; and thy neigh“ bour as thyself.” Shall he, whose whole life has been a constant violation of these precepts, think to atone for his disobedience by a few unprofitable sighs and tears at the last ? This world is a state of trial ; during our abode in it we are to prepare ourselves for another, in which we shall afterwards be placed : it is here we are to acquire such dispositions and habits as will determine our lot hereafter. We know that our future condition depends on our behaviour now; if we neglect it, it is at our own peril; nor is it, when the time assigned for our trial is at the eve of expiring, that by lamenting we can retrieve our misconduct. We have omitted to acR 2
SER M. quire such habits as can alone fit us for XV.
heaven, and, indeed, without which we could have no relish for its enjoyment : so that unless a miracle were wrought in our favour, which we have no reason to expect, we must necessarily be doomed to endless misery. The nature of repentance, therefore, has been much mistaken: it consists not only in grieving for our past sins, but in having for some time forsaken them ; not only in entreating God's forgiveness for having learned evil habits, but in having laid them entirely aside, and substituted virtuous ones in their room. This is a great work, and cannot be done in a moment, and more particularly at such a moment, when we are scarce equal to any work at all. Far be it from the minister of the gospel to pronounce peremptorily in all cases against the efficacy of a death-bed repentance ; and still farther be it from him to dissuade those, who have never
thought of it before that awful period, from SER M.
XV. having recourse to it then! It is all that is left for them : they must therefore do what they can. But he would be wanting in his duty, if he did not tell you that the case is infinitely hazardous ; that no dependance is to be placed upon it; and from thence to warn you to do what you know to be of such inexpressible importance, during the time that you can call your own, while
you are in health and strength, “ before the Lord your God cause dark“ ness, and before your feet stumble upon “ the dark mountains, and while ye
look “ for light, he turn it into the shadow of " death, and make it gross