« AnteriorContinuar »
ADDRESSED TO PERSONS ABOVE THE AGE OF
(Fifth Sunday in Lent.)
LUKE XXI. 34, 35.
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come For as a snare shall it come upon you unawares. on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth."
THE persons, to whom this discourse is intended to apply, are those on whom the most important duties of civil and social life depend. But few people, in a highly cultivated state of society, are entrusted
with much power till they come to the age of forty years. Yet, how honourably soever men may discharge the duties of this life, they cannot be excused from preparing to enter upon a future state of existence. Those who have hitherto neglected the great subject of religion are called upon to consider the mercy they have abused, and the grace they have despised, that "they may hear and fear, and do no more wickedly." Let such beware, lest they imitate the Israelites of old, to whom Moses speaks: “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness." Well might St. Paul ask, "With whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned ?”
If you have ventured hitherto along the dangerous path of life without religion, you cannot be excused of rashness and folly. You have turned out of the way of life, and you owe it to the infinite
forbearance of God, that you have not fallen into that pit which is deeper than the grave. How many have not numbered your months, yet they have been cut off out of the land of the living, and their souls "are reserved in chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day!" They no longer live and breathe upon the earth. Where are they? and what is their state? They are tormented day and night; their prospect is equally painful, as their present condition is miserable.
Before you proceed farther, contemplate, awhile, some of those who entered life about the same time with yourselves. And among these, put from your thoughts such as died in early life-all who did not arrive at man's estate; this process will take half the companions of early childhood and youth from you. But of those who numbered one-and-twenty years, see some, even of them, who are placed as beacons to warn you of the
dangers you have, by the infinite mercies of the Lord, as yet escaped. How many die between the ages of twenty and forty years? How many of those whom you once knew, are dead? They promised to themselves long life, yet they died. "All men think all mortal but themselves." The husband has been cut off from the youthful wife; the wife has departed this life, and left a husband to mourn over her, and her motherless children. We may almost say of our families, what Moses remarked concerning the Egyptians, when God destroyed their first-born, that "there was not a house in which there was not one dead." Yet were these persons, to all appearance likely to number fewer days than you? Many of them were stronger than youmany of them more healthy. How came they to die? Some died by accident, suddenly, in a moment:-some have been smitten by the cold of winter; others, by the heat of summer. Some
have died of fevers, consumption, or the burning ague; and many, within these few years, have been hurried into eternity by a new and almost unheard-of disease, the cholera morbus.
There are in a population of six hundred people, nearly fifty persons between the ages of forty and fifty years—about one twelfth of the population; and in the world, there are probably about sixty millions of persons, men and women, between these ages. Let us consider a few moments the condition of this twelfth part of the village. Can it be, that only one fifth of this fifty come to the sacrament of the supper of the Lord? What is the spiritual condition of the remaining forty? Do they partake of the communion of the body and blood of Christ anywhere? We fear not. Can such persons be in a safe state before God? Can it be said of them, that they keep the ordinances as the apostles have enjoined them? When we incline to speak the most