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life is finished, tears are unavailing, sighs are impotent, prayers are disregarded, and repentance is ineffectual. We proceed to deduce a
4. Fourth conclusion : a life through which more time has been devoted to the present world, than to preparation for eternity, corresponds not to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, when he placed us in this economy of expectation. We were placed in this state of probation, not to sleep, to eat, and to drink, we were placed here to prepare for eternity. If therefore we have devoted more of our time to such functions as these, than to preparation for eternity ; if, at least, we have not adapted these functions to the leading object of eternity; if we have not been governed by that maxim of St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 31 : Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, we certainly have not conformed to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, in placing u3 under this economy of expectation and trial.
We were placed in this state of probation, not merely to labour for the provision and establishment of our families; we are placed here to prepare for eternity. If, therefore, we have devoted more of our time and attention to the provision and establishment of our families, than to preparation for eternity; if, at least, we have not adapted to the leading object of eternity, our solicitude and exertions in behalf of our families, we certainly have not conformed to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, in placing us under this economy of expee. tation and trial.
We were placed in this state of probation, not merely to govern states, to cultivate arts and sciences; we are placed here to prepare for eternity. If, therefore, we have not directed all our anxieties and exertions, on such subjects as these, to the leading object of eternity, we certainly have not conformed to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, in placing us under this economy of expectation and trial. Imagine not that we should be judged according to the ideas which we ourselves are pleased to form of our vocation. We are under an economy of expectation and trial : time then is given us, that we may prepare for eternity. A life, therefore, through which more time and attention have been devoted to the pursuits of this world, than to preparation for eternity, corresponds not to the views which the Creator proposed to himself, when he placed us under this economy of expectation and trial. This is the fourth conclusion.
5. We go on to deduce a fifth: A sinner who has not conformed to the views which God proposed to himself in placing him under an economy of discipline and probation, ought to pour out his soul in thanksgiving, that God is graciously pleased still to lengthen it out. Let each of you who, on taking a review of his own life, must bear the dreadful testimony against himself, that he has most miserably deviated from the views of his Creator, present to God this day, a heart overflowing with gratitude, that this tremendous sentence has not yet been fulminated against him: “Give an account of thy stewardship,” Luke xvi. 2. It is for this that life ought to be prized as infinitely dear; for this we have unspeakable cause to rejoice, that we still behold the light of this day.
“ I have been in the world these thirty, forty, threescore years; and ever since I arrived at the exercise of reason, and felt the power of conscience, I have enjoyed every advantage toward attaining the knowledge, and exhibiting the practice of religion. Every display of mercy, and every token of fatherly displeasure have been employed to reclaim me. Not a book written to convince the understanding, but what has been put into my hands: not a sermon calculated to move and to melt the heart, but what has been addressed to my ears. My corruption has proved too powerful for them all. My life has been a tissue, if not of enormous crimes, at least of dissipation and thoughtlessness. If at any time I have shaken off my babits of listlessness and inaction, it was usually only to run into excesses, which have already precipitated so many precious souls into hell. When visited with sickness, when death seemed to stare me in the face, I seemed to behold, collected into one fatal moment, all the sins of my life, and all the dreadful punishments which they deserve. I carried a hell within me; I believed myself to be encompassed by dæmons and flames of fire; I became my own executioner, when I called to remembrance that wretched time which I bad lavished on the world and its lying vanities; and I would have sacrificed
life a thousand and a thousand times to redeem it, had God put it in my power ; I would have given the whole world to bring back but one
poor moment of that precious time which I had so prodigally squandered away; and God in mercy ineffable, is still prolonging that day of visitation.”
6. Finally, we farther deduce a sixth conclusion: Creatures in whose favour God is pleased still to lengthen out the day of grace, the economy of longsuffering, which they have improved to so little purpose, ought no longer to delay, no not for a moment, to avail themselves of a reprieve so graciously intended. Creatures who stand on the brink of the grave, and who have too just ground to fear that they should be thrust into hell, were the grave immediately to swallow them up, ought instantly to form a new plan of life, and instantly to set about the execution of it. I conjure you, my brethren, by the gospel of this day, I conjure you by all that is powerful, all that is interesting, all that is tender, in the solemnity which we are now assembled to celebrate, and in that of last Lord's day; I conjure you to enter in good earnest into the spirit of this reflection, to keep it constantly in view through every instant of the years which the patience of God may still grant you, to make it as it were the rule of all your designs, all your undertakings, of all your exertions. Without this we can do nothing for you. The most ardent prayers which we could address to heaven on your behalf, this day, would be as ineffectual as those which Moses formerly presented in behalf of the children of Israel, to obtain a revocation of that awful doom: “1 sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest,” Ps. xcv. 11. But if, on the contrary, you are wise to admit
the word of exhortation, we are warranted to hold up our wishes for your salvation, as so many promises sealed, with that seal of God which standeth sure, and immediately emanating from the mouth of that God, the Lord who changeth not.
I have embraced with avidity, my dearly beloved brethren, the opportunity of contributing to the present solemnity, to come to you at a juncture so desirable, and to bring to you the word of life, at a season when I am at liberty to unfold to you a heart which has ever been penetrated with a respectful tenderness for this city, and for this church. Deign to accept my affectionate good wishes, with sentiments conformable to those which dictated them.
Venerable magistrates, to whose hands Providence has committed the reins of government, you are exalted to a station which our devotions contemplate with respect! But we are the ministers of a Master whose commands control the universe; and it is from the inexhaustible source of his greatness, of his riches, of his magnificence, that we draw the benedictions which we this day pronounce upon your august heads. May God vouchsafe to inspire you with that dignity of sentiment, that magnanimity, that noble ambition, which enable the sovereigns to whom he has entrusted the sword of his justice, to found on the basis of justice, all their designs and all their decisions! May it please God to inspire you with that charity, that condescension, that affability