Imatges de pàgina
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and to lift under the banner of God, after I have fought and conquered for Mammon. A third says, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. That is, I am the votary of pleasure, and will acknowledge no other fove. reign; I am already set down to a sensual, and therefore have no relish for a mental entertairment; too strongly attached to corporeal, to receive any satisfaction from spiritual enjoyments; I prefer, therefore, the tumult of riot and debauchery among the sons of Belial, to the sober feast of reason and religion at the table of the Lord. Such, if men would fairly speak their thoughts, would be the idle frivo. lous excuses daily made for the neglect of our duty: such they were in the times when the parable was spoken, and such they have remained even to this day. When God in. vites men to his feast, there is always a farm to be visited, cxen to be proved, and a wife to be attended. That is, ambition withholds, covetousness detains, or pleasure drives them away from it; the pride, riches, and pleasures of this world so engrofs our attention, that we have no thought of any other, no regard to a pride which is meritori. ous, riches that are unalienable, pleasures that are unfading and immortal. The Jews represented in the parable were an ungrateful and perfidious people: let us be ashamed to follow such bad examples. If we are not ashamed, surely we shall be afraid. Let us remember their fate, and rest assured, that if we are guilty of the same crime, we must expect the same punishment. If we reject the first gracious in

vitation,

vitation, we must not dare to hope that he
will ever send us another. None of those, says
the parable, which, were bidden, Phallotajie of
my fipper. If we refuse to accept the terms
of
mercy

offered to us, he will send for other guests more vorthy of his table, even the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. Christ may one day adopt into his flock all those barbarous and savage nations who are yet strangers to his word: they perhaps will gladly accept that salvation which we refuse, and eagerly embrace that knowledge which we thus impiously and ungratefully despise. Even if we should hereafter be ever so desirous of coming to his feast, his table may be filled without us; his doors, which are now open to receive, may then be shut against us, and none of us who are now bidden may be permitted, however earnestly we folicit for it, to taste of his fupper. Let us ther, my brethren, make the proper use of the parable before

We are invited to the feast: let each of us put on the wedding garment of righteousness, without which we must by no means appear before our Sovereign. If we do not come as soon as we are called, if we are not cloathed as we ought to be, and if we do not behave ourselves when there in a manner suitable to the occasion, we had better never coine at ail. And lastly, let us remember that this feait is but preparatory to a better, even a feast of joy and happiness in the mansions of the bleit, where we lball celebrate the marriage of the King's Son with songs of thanksgiving: a feast where the appetite will never pall, the

enjoy

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enjoyment never satiate, and the converse never tire; where we shall meet and affociate with the spirits of good men made perfect, where out of the many that are called we shall see the few that are chosen, those happy and exalted few, who shall have left the insipid feast of human life, for an eternal banquet of peace and immortality; where they shall eat the bread of happiness from the hands of the Almighty, and quench their thirst in those rivers of bliss which flow at God's right hand for evermore.

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Let me die the death of the righteous, and let

my last end be like his.

THE confideration of our latter end, tho ’

a point of the utmost consequence and importancc, is, notwithstanding, so constantly and soindustriously removed from our thoughts, as feldom to enter into them: as death is the ob. ject not of our hopes, but of our fears, few, very few among us, can bring themselves to form any wish concerning it. Such is the folly and inconsistency of mankind, that whilst we are

every day preparing against accidents which never may, we will not give ourselves the least care or concern about that which inevitably must happen; and it is with the utmost difficulty that any of us can be perfuaded to learn a leiton which all must one day be obliged to put in practice. Whilst we are on the busy stage of this life, a mutual commerce of fraud and diffimulation is perpetually carried on amongst us, and the universality of the practice disguises even from ourselves the folly and the iniquity of it; but a time will come to every one of us, when it can answer no end to deceive, when it can serve no purpose to difsemble, when hypocrisy must throw off the mask, and falsehood lay aside her delusion; a death-bed detects all the fophiftry of human artifice, unveils the hidden heart, and shews the man in his true shape and form.

The present age is so gay and dissolute, fo immersed in pleasure, that they have neither time or inclination to visit the chambers of pain and sorrow; the bed of sickness has

very few attendants, and the house of mourning is moít induftriously avoided, left it should embiiter the sweet draught of luxury, interrupt the course of our amusements, and lay us under the disagreeable necessity of being serious. Some indeed are obliged by their necessities to attend the couch of the sick, and to wait near the bed of death: happy would it be for us, if we could make scenes of this nature much more familiar to us; for few, I believe, ever rcturned from them without some improves

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ment, without some serious thoughts, that had a temporary influence over their ensuing conduet.

Surely, if a wish is to be formed with regard to this awful subject, it must be that which is expressed in the words of my text, let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. However we may dislike the means, we shall all readily embrace the benefits resulting from it; however unwilling we may be to live the life, we should all be glad to die the death of the righteous.

Even amongst the heathens, who had such poor and uncertain prospects of a future state, the admonitions of a death-bed were not unregarded; they watched the last moments of their departing friends with the utınost care, and confidered them with a kind of religious awe and veneration; they looked on every action of the dying man as instructive, on every word as prophetic, and as fuch liftened to them with the deepest attention; but surely, if the words and the actions of a pagan at this important hour were worthy of observation, what should be our regard to those of the dying Christian, who has so much more reason to fear, or to hope for immortality.

What then if we should for a while visit, though but in imagination, those scenes which would be still more forcible in reality; perhaps even a distant view of them may convey fome powerful inftruction. Permit me to introduce you to the chambers of vice and virtue, to point out to you the very different form which death affumes in each of them, and to give you an

imperfect

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