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others, who will either perfect the schemes we are engaged in, or disapprove and abandon them forever.
Wherefore then do we think highly of ourselves or of the little we can accomplish, in so precarious a condition, of so short a date! Boast not, O man! of thy works, or thy prospects; of thy poss3ssions, or thy fame. Boast not even of to-morrow, which may never arrive to thee, or if it doth, may come to blast thine expectations, and disappoini thy most favorite wishes; to displace thee from the earth, and bestow thine honors and advantages on another.
Secondly.-In another view of the subject, it urges the importance of sedulously employing the short period of our existence in the present world, in humble obedience to the will of God.
The longest life of man on earth is comparatively transient and momentary. But this short, evanescent period, is appointed for duties of infinite importance. It is emphatically styled a day; and an everlasting night succeeds it, in which no unfinished undertaking can be resumed, no errors persisted in till then, can be rectified, no pardons for unrepented disobedience can be obtained. Considering mankind as a race of moral accountable beings, this is the only season of probation and preparation for a better state hereafter. Viewing human nature as involved in apostacy, depravity, and guilt, it is the only opportunity for repentance and amendment, for recovering the lost image of our Maker, for attaining and improving in the virtues which alone can refine and dignify our nature.
And all this must necessarily be accomplished, and that speedily, if we would enjoy the hope of divine approbation and a blissful immortality.
Many arguments conspire to enforce the importance of attending seasonably to this consideration. We learn it from the irreversible law of our condition as the creatures of God. Every faculty of our nature preaches a strong obligation to improve our existence for his glory in whom we live and move and have our being; reason and conscience inculcate the duty with great emphasis: the influence of a general prevalence of virtue in promoting the order and happiness of society, and the genuine satisfactions of a life of piety and goodness place it in a most impressive and interesting point of light. The sacred Scriptures also abound with arguments to the same purpose; and demand our attention to them in the most peremptory manner; they direct the consecration of our souls to the service of God, and enjoin
an explicit unreserved submission of heart to his will; they require a purity and rectitude of character which must be maintained with steadfast activity to the end, and a fervent energetic piety which must be supported by unabating exertion, if we would live to answer the end. of our being, or enjoy the hope of a happy future state.
Every rational reflecting mind will perceive from these considerations, how infinitely interesting and important the duties of the present day of our existence must be! A boundless field of usefulness opens to our view-A scene of activity invites our exertion which has respect to all our obligations to God, to our neighbor, and to ourselves-Not a chasm remains in all the years of our mortality that is not occupied by some important circumstance, that demands our immediate attention-Not a moment escapes from the days of our life that is not charged with some interesting duty that enhances its value.
But all these considerations acquire additional force when viewed in connection with the frail and scanty date of our time on earth, or joined with the recollection of the venerable dead. Let us learn the lesson, my Brethren, at the cemetery of our fathers. These breathless bodies, these disjointed bones, these putrid fragments, this dust and ashes, are not spread before you to open afresh the springs of sorrow which time was beginning to dry up: not to expose the vanity of our glory and excellency in our vigor and prime; but to remind you of the duties which time demands of you, and of the importance of seaSoniably applying to them.
Lo! a voice is addressing you from the tomb! It seems to say in awful accents, “ We, our friends, were once as ye are, when we enjoyed the light, were employed in duty, and looked forth to flattering prospects of futurity-Our day is past-The night of death has clos. ed the scene till the morning of the resurrection. Consider-conşider how shortly you may expect to lie down with us in these mansions of corruption! Address yourselves with diligence to the great important duties of your day! Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave to which you are hastening. Your opportunity,—your only opportunity for making your calling and eleco tion sure; for doing good to others, or acquiring improvement to yourselves, is hourly drawing nearer to a close. Watch then and be sober, Be ye therefore ready also, for at such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh."
Thirdly.-The question, “ Your fathers, where are they?” leads back our thoughts, to retrace the steps of those who have gone before us, through the duties and warfare, in which we are still to be engaged.
It is painful, in reviewing the scenes of human life, to witness how many rational creatures spend an useless existence on earth; whose history may be summed up in this, that they were born, and breathed, and died. It is mortifying to know what multitudes pervert the ends of life, to the abuse of reason and the disgrace of being; in scenes of folly and intemperance; in acts of violence and fraud, and riot and sensuality.
The infatuation, pride, and wickedness that reign in the courts of Avarice, and Pleasure, and Ambition, present an affecting and degrading view of human nature, from which we turn with pity, with humi. liation and disgust.
But the men we contemplate, were among the excellent of the earth; the ornaments and the strength of society in their day. Your fathers (I mean the founders and the patrons of this church) were generally the sons of piety and religion. From their earliest settlement in this country, before the wilderness was subdued, or the ruthless sa. vage had retired from these shores, it was their care to provide for the public social worship of God, and to transmit the doctrines of truth in one pure stream to their posterity, from generation to generation.
The grand impression they had of the power of the gospel, on their own hearts, taught them the importance of preserving it pure and entire to their children, and inspired them with fortitude to encounter many difficulties for its sake. Animated by the sentiments of pure and undefiled religion, correct in their manners, useful in society, and exemplary in piety and goodness, they shone as lights in the world, and in the midst of temporal inconveniences and discouragements, maintained a zeal for God, which did honor to the integrity of their hearts, and the sincerity of their profession. To their firmness and perseverance you are indebted for your prosperity in your temporal interests and in your spiritual; for your standing amongst the churches of Christ, and the correctness of your religious sentiments. They fought a good fight, they have finished their course; they have left you an example worthy of attention and imita. tion. Your blessings and your privileges are the fruit of their exertions. They cheerfully encountered the severities of a noxious cli
mate, without a knowledge of its proper antidotes, and submitted to å self-denying, distinguishing profession, that they might preserve to you the liberty of conscience, and the advantages of orthodox instruction in the faith of the gospel.
These benefits have descended to us unimpaired. And permit me to say, they convey to you the sentiments of your progenitors in a manner too explicit not to be understood, too emphatical not to arrest our attention!
Worthy men! Why did they labor and wrestle, and strive incessantly, till they raised a house for God, and established a Church and a Ministry on the principles of eternal truth! Why were they so solicitous to be instructed in those peculiar doctrines of the New Testament, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ? Why were they so studious of the Scriptures, pondering them in the secret retirement of the closet, reading them diligently in their families, impressing on their children and their households, the great duties they inculcatę, and mixing all with fervent prayer, that they might become a word of salvation to their souls, the law of their life, and the foundation of their hope? It was that they verily believed them to be the words of eternal life: They had felt their sacred energythey had experienced their salutary light and influence, in guiding their feet into ways of righteousness and peace; they knew them to be the wisdom of God, and the power of God to salvation to them that believe.
Consider the beauty, the energy, the excellency of this respectable impressive example. It enjoins upon you to search the Scriptures, in which
have eternal life.” It demands of you to “Consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling yourselves together, as the manner of some is.” It reminds you of your strong obligation to teach the rising generation, and to impress them with the saving truths of the gospel, that they may succeed to your place, when you shall have gone
down to the grave. It recommends to your peculiar care, the Church of God, which in his providence is committed to your oversight; that the light so long burning in it, so often apparently subsiding and reviving, may never be extinguished. “Be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Which carries forth our thoughts in the
Next place, to that world of spirits, unseen to mortal eyes, which finishes the career of our probation, and fixes our character and condition for eternity.
We have seen the ravages of death and the gloomy caverns of the grave. Beyond them lies a prospect which stamps infinite importance upon our life and proceedings in the boily-Even in this imperfect clouded state, the soul pants for immortality, and looks forth from the windows of her clay-built tabernacle, for an existence, more suited to her vast desires and extensive capacities. We know that to the eye of reason, this subject is covered with mystery. But Christianity turns aside the veil of uncertainty, and points out to us an hereafter-a wide eternity of rewards and punishments, and we either look for a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, or expect the fearful judgment of fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. So soon as we drop this mortal flesh, the spirit perfect in all its habits of piety and goodness, or of impenitency and sin, prepared for an inheritance with the saints in glory, or fitted for destruction, enters into the state adapted to its condition. What a difference of prospect do these considerations open to the different characters and dispositions of men! Behold him, whose days are passing in prosperity and ease; to whom full tides of joy, without embarrassment flow incessantly; whose table, spread with luxury, and his coffers filled with wealth, court indulgence, and flatter his vanity and pride: But he hath forgotten God; lives a stranger to the sentiments of piety; unmoved by the sweet influences of gospel truth, unfeeling to the grace that preaches salvation and invites his attention to his immortal interests, insensible to the ingenuous pleasures that attend a course of virtue and religion, without hope of blessedness in heaven and careless of futurity. Let conscience be awakened to take cognizance of his condition; to spread before him the guilt of an impenitent, unbelieving life; to uncover the dark abodes of the ungodly after death; and say in his affrighted ear, “ This night shall thy soul be required of thee!" Trembling and astonished- too late filled with horror and confusion, he looks around, but looks in vain, for comfort or for hope, on the possessions and the friends on whom he used to rely, Nothing can mitigate the anguish of his soul! Before him lies an unknown, untried eternity; but to him an eternity of unavailing repentance, and incurable despair; an eternity of encreasing guilt, and encreasing torment--But I forbear.