Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

not to banish death from their view, because they were all hastening to the same end, and would soon lie down together in the same narrow, dark and silent house. The serious truth which now lies before us, is, That men ought to keep it in mind, that the grave is the house to which they are going. I shall, I. Describe the house of the grave. II. Show that all men are going to this house. And, III. Show why they should keep this truth in mind. I. Let us take a serious view of the house of the grave, to which we are all constantly going. Though this cannot lead to any new discoveries, yet it may serve to impress upon our minds such thoughts, as we ought continually to carry about with us. Here the first thought that occurs is, 1. That the grave is a very spacious house. It already contains millions and millions of the human race. There are now a vast many more in this house, than are in all the houses on the face of the earth put together. The number of the dead vastly surpasses the number of the living. A large proportion of the four quarters of the globe has been strewed over with human bodies. Millions lie at the bottom of the sea. Millions lie in cities long since laid in ruins. Millions lie in the fields where battles have been fought, and where armies have marched and encamped. Millions lie in superb sepulchres, and more obscure receptacles of the dead. And yet there remains ample room in the house of the grave for all that are now living in every part of the world, and for all that shall hereafter live, to the end of time. 2. The house of the grave is not only very spacious, but very dark and dreary. This idea sensibly struck the mind of Job in contemplating the grave. “If I wait, the grave is my house; I have made my bed in the darkness.” And he repeatedly calls it the land of darkness. The grave is, strictly speaking, a dark house. It shuts out all the light of this world. It hides from the dead not only the sun, moon, and stars, but all the scenes and objects of time. The dead know not any thing about those whom they leave behind, nor about the pursuits, the changes and revolutions, which take place among the inhabitants of the earth. Death draws a veil over all terrestrial things, and involves the dead in total darkness, respecting all the affairs and concerns of this lower world. Solomon suggests this alarming thought to the living man, to awaken his attention and stimulate his activity, while he enjoys the light of life. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” The dead know no more about the things of time, than the living know about the things of eternity. And the dead can do no more for the benefit of the living, than the living can do for the benefit of the dead. 3. The grave is a house of silence as well as darkness. The houses of the living are seldom silent. They sometimes resound with the voice of mirth and music ; sometimes with the voice of sorrow and mourning; sometimes with the voice of praise and gratitude; sometimes with the voice of murmurs and complaints; and sometimes with the voice of animosity and contention. But in the spacious house of the grave, there is a constant and profound silence. “There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.” Old and young, high and low, rich and poor, rulers and subjects, parents and children, ministers and people, all lie together in perfect silence, in the dark and gloomy house of the grave. 4. The grave is an empty as well as silent house. Other houses are often filled with rich treasures and splendid ornaments. There is a great difference between the houses of the rich, the great and affluent, and the houses of the poor and dependent. But the spacious house of the grave is totally empty of all those things which are esteemed the most grand, and beautiful, and valuable, by the living. The rich and poor meet together in the same dark and unadorned mansion. They must be stripped of all their possessions and treasures, before they can enter the house of the dead. This circumstance the inspired writers frequently mention, for the warning and admonition of the living. “Be not afraid,” says David, “when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him.” And the apostle gives the same seasonable admonition: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” 5. The grave is the house of corruption. There the sentence of mortality is literally executed: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” There the strongest and most robust bodies are dissolved and reduced to ashes. There the most beautiful forms of human nature are divested of their beauty, and become a mass of corruption and meat for worms. This humiliating idea impressed the mind of Job, in meditating upon the grave. “If I wait, the grave is my house: I have made my bed in the darkness; I have said to corruption, thou art my father; to the worm, thou art my mother and sister.” The worms are every day feeding sweetly upon those who once made the most brilliant and splendid appearance in life. Millions are consumed, or consuming and mouldering in the house of corruption. To such a state we must all be reduced, and in such a state we must all remain, until this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality, and death is swallowed up in victory. I must add, 6. The grave is the house of oblivion. It is designed to put the dead out of the sight and out of the memory of the living; and it has never failed of answering this design. No appendages to the grave can perpetuate the memory of those who are lodged in it. The greatest, the wisest, and the best of men are soon forgotten, after the grave has shut its mouth upon them. The nearest and dearest friends are soon obliterated from the mind, after they are gathered to the congregation of the dead. The bitterest enemies and greatest scourges of mankind are soon lost in oblivion, after they are cast into the house of silence and corruption. “They are dead,” says the prophet, “they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.” Not one in a million of mankind, who lived and died five thousand, four thousand, or two thousand years ago, is now remembered. And in a few years more, the grave will reduce to perpetual oblivion, those who are now living and moving upon the face of the earth. If they wait, the grave is their house, and they must sooner or later be lodged in it, and put out of the sight and memory of those who are coming after them. I now proceed to show, II. That this house of the grave is ours, to which we are all going, and in which we must take up our abode for a long and unknown time. Some have lain in it several thousand years, and perhaps we must lodge in it for more than a thousand years to come. Job says, “Man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he 7 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up; so man lieth down, and riseth not : till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.” But the certainty of going to this dark and dismal abode is the point now to be considered. And here it may suffice to say, 1. We know that this must be our lot, from the appointment of God. The apostle declares, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” . This appointment was the penal effect of the first offence of the first man. Then God said to him, as the head of the whole human race, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” This sentence is universal, absolute, and unconditional. It is like the law of the Medes and Persians. It admits of no alteration in favor of any class of mankind. They must all, in their appointed time, go to the grave, and crumble into dust, without any regard to their future conduct. The sentence of mortality is founded upon Adam's conduct, and not their own. “In Adam all die.” “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” There are many natural evils, which God threatens conditionally; and these, men may avoid by avoiding the conditions upon which they are threatened. But the condition upon which the sentence of mortality is founded is past, and therefore there is nothing which mankind can now do, or avoid, that will have the least influence to prevent their going to the grave, which is their house, by an irreversible sentence of mortality. The righteous as well as the wicked must meet and lie down together in the grave. 2. Ever since God appointed death to mankind, he has been carrying them to the grave in a constant and uninterrupted succession. He has been fulfilling the threatening of death upon men of all ages, of all nations, of all characters, and of all conditions. Death has actually reigned from Adam to Moses, and from Moses to this day. Though men have ardently desired to live and to avoid corruption, and though they inwardly thought that their houses should continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations, yet we see “that wise men die, likewise the fool and brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” Providence is every day reading lessons of mortality to the living, by calling multitudes of individuals from the house of life to the house of death. Besides, 3. We not only see mortality in others, but feel it coming upon ourselves. As soon as we are born, we begin to die, and feel those pains and infirmities and sicknesses which are the certain symptoms of death. The seeds of death are spread through our corporeal constitution, and grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength. All the means we use to preserve life, ultimately tend to destroy it. We must meet the king of terrors, for there is no discharge in that war. Though we wait, still the grave is our house. Though we outlive one and another, and bury nearly the whole world, still the grave is our house, and we must take possession of it. Though we put far away the evil day, and banish the thoughts of dying from our minds, this will not prevent nor retard the disagreeable event. Though we use ever so many precautions to avoid the common causes of death, and to prolong our days, still our appointed time will come, and we shall meet the bounds which God has set, and over which we cannot pass. We must go the way of all the earth, reach our long home, make our bed in dust and darkness. Now, if it be true that the grave is our house, whither we are constantly tending, then it is very proper to inquire, as proposed, III. Why we should keep this serious truth in mind? Though there are many things which mankind may and ought to forget, yet they should never forget that the grave is their house. There are weighty and solid reasons why they should habitually carry about with them the thoughts of leaving this world, and going through the grave to another. And, 1. Because God requires them to keep their mortality in view. “O that they were wise,” says he, “that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” And by the mouth of Solomon he says, “If a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many.” God would have dying creatures bear in mind that they are dying creatures; that they are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, and have no continuing city, nor abiding place, till they go to the grave, which is their long home. 2. They ought to bear their mortality in mind, because God takes so many methods to impress this important truth upon their hearts. We have just observed that he requires them to consider their latter end; but he not only requires this in his word, but he gives them the most lively and alarming descriptions of human frailty, of the shortness and uncertainty of life, and of his own sovereign power to deprive them of the residue of their days, whenever he pleases. He has told them that in him they live, and move, and have their being; that they are in his hand as the clay is in the hand of the potter; that he woundeth and healeth, he killeth and maketh alive; that he has numbered their days, and fixed the bounds over which they cannot pass. These admonitions he enforces by concealing from them the time, the means, and the circumstances of their dying. He has not allowed them to know what even a day may bring forth, nor when, nor where, nor how they shall come to the grave. He sends death here and there, in one place and another, in one family and another, without any apparent regard to the age, or health, or character, or condition of those whom he cuts down. He holds up a constant mirror of mortality before the eyes of the living, not only in every month in the year, and every week in the month, but in every day of the week. The dead are perpetually falling around the living, and calling upon them to be ready also. And though he waits upon some much longer than upon others, yet he

« AnteriorContinuar »