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attended with very great and serious evils, which every body would wish to escape. Who among the rich, the high, and the great, would not dread to be called suddenly and unexpectedly out of time into eternity? Who among the young, the gay, the thoughtless and stupid, would not tremble at the thought of being summoned before the bar of God suddenly, and without a moment's time for anticipation and reflection ? Who among the aged and the pious would not deprecate meeting death at an unexpected time and place 2 Who manage either their temporal or spiritual concerns with so much discretion, prudence and wisdom, as to be duly prepared to meet death, without any time to set their souls and houses in order? Hezekiah deprecated an early and unexpected death. And David ardently prayed for a little space to prepare for his great and last change. “O spare me,” said he to God, “that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.” It is a great evil and calamity to be overwhelmed with unthought-of cares and concerns in a dying hour. But an unexpected and sudden death very often brings with it a multitude of such unthought-of, and unregulated, and neglected cares and concerns. So that death always comes in an evil time, when it comes unexpectedly. And it appears from what has been said, that it almost universally comes unanticipated and unexpected. Though mankind see wise men die, and likewise the fool and brutish person perish, yet they will indulge the inward thought, the secret expectation, that they shall never leave this world and see corruption. They fit themselves for a death unexpected and unprepared for, which involves them in the greatest darkness, anxiety and distress, that they ever experienced. If this were not common, it would be strange; but that it is common, is stranger still; since God in his word and providence has given them so many admonitions always to stand expecting and waiting for their great and last change.
3. It appears from men's undue expectation of living, why bereavements are often so heavy and grievous to be borne. Those who habitually expect to live long in the world themselves, are almost equally prone to expect that their relatives and friends will be ... and therefore their sudden and unexpected death brings with it a sudden and unexpected bereavement, which often gives a treble and sometimes a tenfold weight to it. When a bereavement is previously expected, the mind has time to collect itself, and prepare to support it, which greatly mitigates the affliction. But when bereavements come suddenly and unexpectedly, they discompose the mind, obstruct the exercise of the rational powers, and take away fortitude and resolution, and render them too heavy to be borne. The sudden and unexpected afflictions and bereavements of Job overwhelmed his mind, and struck him dumb for seven days and seven nights. And the sudden death of Absalom was a bereavement too heavy for David to bear with calmness, patience and submission. Unexpected bereavements have often struck mourners not only dumb, but disconsolate, and even senseless all their days; and not in a few instances, instantaneously put a period to their lives. As deaths commonly come unexpected to the dying, so they commonly come unexpected to the living, and pierce their hearts with keen anguish and distress. Hence says Solomon, when man goeth to his long home, the mourners go about the streets. By their fondness and expectation of living, they unfit themselves for the bearing of bereavements, which they have good reason to expect, and subject themselves to unnecessary grief and sorrow. Parents have abundant reason to expect to be bereaved of their children. Children have abundant reason to expect to be bereaved of their parents. The nearest and dearest friends have abundant reason to expect that their connections in this world will be dissolved. God, by his word and providence, is continually teaching them to expect the trials of sore bereavements. The father who has not lost a son or a daughter; the son or the daughter that has not lost a father or mother; the brother that has not lost a brother; and the sister that has not lost a sister, and the man who has not lost an intimate friend; all such persons have abundant reason to live in the expectation of sore bereavements still to fall to their lot, and that too, suddenly and unexpectedly. It is extreme folly for any to hope and expect that they shall be exempted from the troubles, and afflictions, and bereavements, which have wrung the hearts of thousands and thousands. The longer any live, the more bereavements and sorrows they have reason to expect. If their lives should be protracted, the lives of those whom they most value and esteem may be shortened, proving a source of exquisite sorrow and lamentation. And if they unwisely forget the frailty and mortality of their friends, they will lay a foundation for aggravated grief and disappointment. 4. Since death so generally comes suddenly and unexpectedly to the living, we learn the wisdom and importance of early piety. As children and youth are not too young to die, so they are not too young to remember their Creator, and give their hearts and lives to God. They are of all persons most apt to hope and expect to live a great while in this world. They look upon the aged as destined to death, but they expect that they are destined to life. But God has told them by his providence, as well as by his word, that death will make greater ravages among them, according to their numbers, than among any other class of the living. There are far more of mankind die in infancy, childhood and youth, than in any other period of life. While children and youth live without fear, without prayer, and without hope in Christ, they are imminently exposed to be cut down, and suddenly and unexpectedly hurried into eternity unprepared, to the present sorrow of their pious parents and friends, and to their own everlasting sorrow. Where is the individual child, or youth, that has a rational ground to expect that he shall live to three-score years and ten, or even to the meridian of life? Every child and youth has far more reason to expect, that as the fish is caught in the net, and the bird in the snare, he shall fall an early victim to some mortal disease, or fatal accident. If the young were exempted from death, they might have a better excuse than others for neglecting the concerns of their souls. But since they are more than others exposed to an early and sudden death, they are more inexcusable for spending their days in sin and vanity, and putting far away the evil day, and unfitting themselves both for living and dying. Is it not time, high time for children and youth in this place to attend to the things which belong to their everlasting peace, before their feet stumble on the dark mountains of death 2 How can they answer it to God, if they spend their childhood and youth in vanity? And how can they hope to escape an early and unexpected death, if they disregard and disobey the plain and repeated admonitions of God in his word, and in his providence which is constantly calling them to witness the disappointments of the dying and the living 2 5. We learn from what has been said, why God does cause so many sudden and unexpected deaths to take place in the world. God might bring every one to the grave in a good time, both for himself and for others. He does in some few cases order all the circumstances of death in such a manner, as to gratify the desires of the dying and the living. Some of the ancient patriarchs died in perfect peace to themselves, and to their surviving friends. And who could desire to die at a better time, and in a better manner, than good old Simeon and Barzillai did 3 But how seldom does death come to men in such a good time, and in such a peaceful manner! Death far more commonly seizes the young and the old, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the gracious and the graceless, as the fish that is caught in the net and the bird in the snare, in an evil time, when they little expect it, and are little prepared for it. God knows that this is a sore evil to the sons of men. Why then does he so often send death to so many persons, and so many houses, suddenly and unexpectedly 2. It is undoubtedly designed more for the benefit of the living than for the dying. It may be a token of evil to the dying, but a token of good to the living. It is suited to afflict, to instruct, and to produce a salutary and saving impression on the minds of mourners. God sees it necessary that some other means should be employed to awaken the stupid, than his word, which they will not read, will not hear, or will not understand. When death comes in an evil time, suddenly and unexpectedly to the old, it is alarming to the old; but when it comes suddenly and unexpected to the young, to the thoughtless, to the gay, and to the secure, it seldom fails of making a sensible, if not a lasting impression upon the most careless and stupid. How many have been effectually awakened, by such sudden, unexpected, and solemn instances of death !
6. We learn from what has been said, that the late death of a youth in this place is a loud call to the young to be also ready. They know not which of their names stands next in death's commission. It is God, who speaks by this instance of sudden and unexpected death; and it is God who speaks to the youth, who have resisted other calls and admonitions, to prepare for that eternity, to which they are rapidly tending. To prepare, I say ; for no man, no youth, is prepared for heaven, while his heart is at total enmity against God. Such a heart will effectually shut any of mankind out of heaven. And such a heart the young in this place give too much evidence that they possess; and of course that they are actually unprepared to die. How dangerous then is your situation ' If you must leave this world, and are not prepared for heaven, what are you prepared for 2 Be entreated to answer this question, and it cannot fail to condemn you. Your own hearts are the highest evidence that you are in a wretched and forlorn situation. And where can you find better directions, than in the Bible 2. It commands you to remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Are you prepared to meet death in such a manner as that young person did 7
Finally, this subject shows that the present mourners have great cause of sorrow. God has taken away their son in the morning of life. He has taken him away suddenly. He has taken him away in an evil time to them. Less than a year ago, they were called to a similar bereavement. The wounds of that bereavement are not healed, before they have sorrow upon sorrow. Repeated strokes must give them deeper and deeper wounds. They may with some propriety cry, “Behold, all ye that pass by, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.” They have great need of consolation from God, and from man. Man will pity, but God only can heal their wounds. Let them apply to him properly, and it will not be In Valn.
WOL. III. 43
HE that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. — JoHN, xi. 25.
When Lazarus of Bethany was sick, his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent for Christ to come and visit him; but for good reasons he delayed coming until Lazarus was dead. And when he came, Martha regretted his delay, and said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.—Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” These declarations look, at first view, as very inconsistent and absurd ; but they may be easily reconciled. Christ here speaks of two kinds of death; the death of the body, and
the death of the soul. Though he allows that believers may
die a natural death, and their bodies may sleep in the dust until the resurrection at the last day, yet he denies that their souls die with their bodies, or become dormant and insensible. But on the contrary, he suggests that they shall still live, from the time they leave their bodies to the time they are reunited at the general resurrection. Taking our Saviour's words in this plain and obvious sense, they are so far from being absurd and inconsistent, that they convey in a very striking manner, a very serious and interesting truth, which all the living ought to believe and realize. This, therefore, is the truth which falls under our present consideration: