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ence our conduct, and give us a true notion ople the baseness and insignificancy of temporal enjoyments, and of the real value of those that are eternal : and when once we are convinced of the vanity of those, and of the solidity of these ; of the reward that follows virtue, and the punishment that treads on the heels of vice; we shall take more care of our fouls, than, of our bodies, and pursue more eagerly those pleasures we expect, than those we at present are so fond of.
But then we must be how to speak ; that is, we must retire from the hurry of the world; from conversations either dangerous or useless ; and give some time to consideration, thought and meditation. For without this, the word of God makes no impression; it sinks not into our souls : but, to use our Saviour's expression, The fowls of the air gather up the feed : so that it brings forch no fruit. For this reason, the prophet Isaiah (seeing his exhortations to repentance had no effect upon the Jews); conjured them to enter into their closets, to withdraw from the conversation of men, to consider the innumerable benehts. God had bestowed on them, and the sad returns of ingratitude they had made their Benefactor. Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and sout thy doors about thee, Isaiah, xxvi. 20.
Oh that we could persuade our selves to retire some moments every day from noise and tumult, and to spend some serious thoughts upon those truths God has revealed, and cominands us to believe and practise ! that our fouls are immortal ; -and must either groan eternally under torments beyond expression, or enjoy pleasures above comprehension : that he has mark'd out, in his law, what we must do to avoid those ; . what, to deserve these : that one of these extremes must be our lot and both cannot. Were we truly persuaded, I say, of thela
truths, and did we carry them in our memory, we should scarce ever be tempted to forsake our duty upon the bare views of interest or pleasure.
Give me, O Lord, the grace to know thy will, , and thy assistance to fulfil it. Let me place all my delight, with the royal prophet, in meditating upon thy law, and all my care in complying with it. On this depends my whole happiness ; and therefore it shall be my only employment, in time to prepare my self for a happy eternity.
GOSPEL of St. John, Chap. xvi. Verse 5. But now I go my way
go my way to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me, Whither goeft thou ?
6. But because I have said these things unto you, forrow hath filled your heart,
7. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth ; It is expedient for you that I go away : for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judg
9. Of fin, because they believe not on me ;
10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more ;
11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
12. I have yet many things 10 say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13. Howbeit, wohen be the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth; for be fall not speak of himself ; but what foever he shall bear, that shall be speak, and be will shew you tbings to
14. He shall glorify me ; for be shall receive of mine, and Mall Mew it unto you.
The MORAL REFLECTION.
UR blessed Saviour checked the apostles,
because they took not the pains to ask him where he was going. None of you
None of you asketh me, whither goeft thou? I have often repeated, that I must leave you, and this world ; and yet you enquire not where I intend to go : altho’ it highly concerns you to know; because you are obliged to follow me, and to walk on in the same way I have marked out, if you intend to live eternally with me. It is strange, the apostles should forget so obvious a question ; but yet it is more astonishing, that we should be so forgetful, or so indolent as not often to put the fame question to ourselves. Whither goeft thou? And so, for want of reflection, we find ourselves on a precipice, before we dream of a danger. We post on without consideration, and fall into a misfortune withcut retrieve.
'Let me therefore put you in mind whither you are going, dear Christians ; and at the same time desire you to carry the thought continually in your memory. You post to the grave, and once must leave all those amusements, that at present take up your thoughts, and captivate your hearts. Neither wealth nor poverty, neither nobility nor peasantry, vice nor virtue, can exempt you from the penalty of this law, almost as ancient as mankind. We are made of earth, and must return to our first original matter. Yet, tho' our bodies die, our souls remain ; and will be, eternally, either happy above, or miserable below, without change, without alteration. If the tree fall towards the South, or towards the North, fas the wise man, in the
place place where the tree lieth, there it hall be, Eccl. xi. 3. Our misery and happiness depending upon the ftate death shall find us in, all our care and solicitude must tend to prepare us for this last moment, on which so much, nay our All, depends. It is therefore our interest, as well as duty, to carry always about us the thoughts of this fatal hour; for nothing will fit us more efficaciously for a happy removal, than a continual reflection we muft remove. The great St. Paul assures us, in all his apoftolical labours, he carried death in his thoughts, as well as in his body: I die daily : and this meditation disengaged him from all earthly objects, and encouraged him to lay up treasure in heaven. If we imitate St. Paul, we shall find the same effects, and probably take the same resolution.
For what is.the reason we are so taken up with the cares of this world, even to the forfeiture of conscience, and honour; but that we seldom reflect, we must leave it? And why are so many surprized unprovided, but because they dread to dash their criminal pleasures with the remembrance of their mortality ?
But in spite of negligence, dear Christian, you muft fall into dust : beauty must set in corruption; strength must end in weakness ; wealth and grandeur, in poverty and insignificancy. You will carry nothing into the next world, but your vices, or your virtues : Those for punishment ; these for reward. This is a fundamental point of our religion. We all believe it ; yet the greatest part, even of Christians, live, as if it were a fable invented to frigłt some, and to please' others. And why? Because no body thinks of this terrible moment : no body considers in cold blood, the consequence of a happy death ; no body the dismal
consequences consequences of a bad one : no body asks this question, Whitber goeft thou?
Know then, when once you take leave of time, you fall into an eternity, either of joy or misery : that, when once you are entered, there is no return, no more time for you. If you expire in grace, you are happy for ever; if n fin, for ever loft. This moment therefore decides, whether we sha]] live eternally with the saints, or eternally die with the reprobate. Is it not then of the highest concern to make some preparations for a moment of such importance ? For a moment that fteals upon us unforeseen; and often is not distant from us an hour, when we fancy it is removed many years.
Did we persuade ourselves, the raising of a great fortune depended on the managing of such a moment well, and our life upon the managing of it ill; should we 'not night and day carry this critical point about us, and exert all our care to turn it to advantage? Who would be so foolish as to engage himself in trifles of no concern, or industriously to endeavour to forget this moment, on which so great a good, and so great an evil; depends ? Yet what is the gain of a fortune compared to heaven? The loss of life compared to hell ? . Yet which of these must be our lot, is the decision of one moment. This pronounces the fatal sentence, which God will never reverse : it is without appeal ; immutable, eternal. Yet we fear to remember it, and use artifice to forget it. And this is the reason so many are surprized on the sudden, and, what is worse, unprepared.
Would our forgetfulness of death make death forget us, we might excuse our negligence : but alas! she has us always in her eye, and seems to fake pleasure to steal upon us unforeseen: and