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my nature, and made meet to enter into that unseen world, where there shall be no more of these revolutions of days and years, but one eternal day fills up all the space with divine pleasure, or one eternal niglit with long and deplorable distress and darkness?
When I see a friend expiring, or the corpse of my neighbour conveyed to the grave: Alas! their months and minutes are all determined, and the seasons of their trial are finished for ever; they are gone to their eternal home, and the estate of their souls is fixed unchangeably : The angel that has sworn, their “ time shall be no longer," has concluded their hopes, or has finished their fears, and according to the rules of righteous judgment, has decideil their misery or happiness for a long immortality. Take this warning, O my soul, and think of thy own removal !
Are we standing in the church-yard, paying the last honours to the relics of our friends ? What a number of hillocks of death appear all around us! What are the tomb-stones, but meinorials of the inhabitants of that town, to inform us of the period of all their lives, and to point out the day, when it was said to each of them, your “ time shall be no longer," O may readily learn this important lesson, that my turn is hastening too! Such a little hillock shall 'shortly arise for me, on soine unknown spot of ground, it shall cover this flesh, and these bones of mine in darkness, and shall hide them from the light of the sun, and from the sight of man, till the heavens be no more.
Perhaps some kind surviving friend may engrave my name, with the number of my days, upon a plain funeral stone, without ornament, and below envy: There shall my tomb stand, among the rest, as a fresh monument of the frailty of nature, and the end of time. It is possible some friendly foot may, now and then, visit the place of my repose, and some tender eye may bedew the cold memorial with a tear : One or another of my old acquaintance may possibly attend there, to learn the silent lecture of mortality from my grave-stone, which my lips are now preaching aloud to the world: And if love and sorrow should reach so far, perhaps, while his soul is melting in his eye-lids, and his voice scarce finds an utterance, he will point with his finger, and shew his companion the month, and the day of my decease. O that solemn, that awful day, which shall finish my appointed time on earth, and put a full period to all the desigus of my heart, and all the labours of my tongue and pen!
Think, O my soul ! that while friends or strangers are engaged on that spot, and reading the date of thy departure hence, thou wilt be fixed under a decisive and unchangeable sentence, rejoicing in the rewards of time well-improved, or suffering the long sorrows which shall attend the abuse of it, in an unknown world of happiness or misery.
Reflection III. We may learn, from this discourse, “ the stupid folly and madness of those, who are terribly afraid of the end of time, whensoever they think of it, and yet they know not what to do with their time, as it runs off daily and hourly." They find their souls unready for death, and yet they live from year to year, without any further preparation for dying: They
their hours of leisure in mere trifling, they lose their seasons of grace, their means and opportunities of salvation in a thoughtless and shameful manner, as though they had no business to employ them in; they live as though they had nothing to do with all their time but to eat and drink, and be easy and merry. From the rising to the setting sun, you find them still in pursuit of impertinencies; they waste God's sacred time, as well as their own, either in a lazy, indolent, and careless humour, or in following after vanity, sin, and madness, while the end of time is hastening upon them.
What multitudes are there of the race of Adam, both in higher and in lower ranks, who are ever complaining they want leisure; and when they have a release from business, for one day or one hour, they hardly know what to do with that idle day, nor how to lay out one of the hours of it for
any valuable purpose ? Those in higher stations, and richer circumstances, have most of their time at their own command and disposal ; but, by their actual disposal of it, you plainly see they know not what it is good for, nor what use to make of it; they are quite at a loss how to get rid of this tedious thing, called time, which lies daily as a burden on their hands. Indeed, if their head ache, or their face grow pale, and a physician feel their pulse, or look wishfully on their countenance, and especially, if he should shake his head, or tell them his fears, that they will not hold out long, what surprize of soul, what agonies and terrors seize them on a sudden, for fear of the end of time? For they are conscious how unfit they are for eternity: Yet when the pain vapishes, and they feel health again, they are as much at a loss as ever, what to do with the remnant of life.
O the painful and unhappy ignorance of the sons and daughters of men, that are sent hither on a trial for eternity, and yet know not how to pass away time! They know not how to wear out life, and get soon enough to the end of the day : They doze their hours away, or saunter from place to place, without any design or meaning : They enquire of every one they meet, what they shall do to kill time, as the French pbrase is, because they cannot spend it fast enough : They are perpetually calling in the assistance of others, to laugh, or sport, or trifle with them, and to help them off with this dead weight of time, while, at the same moment, if you do but mention the end of time, they are dreadfully afraid of coming near it. What folly
and distraction is this? What sottish inconsistency is found in the heart and practice of sinful men ; Eccles. ix. 3. “ The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; madness is in their heart while they live, and after that, they go down to the dead.”
O that these loiterers would once consider, that time loiters not! days and hours, months and years loiter not; each of them flies away with swiftest wing, as fast as succession admits of, and bears them onward to the goal of eternity. If they delay and linger, among toys and shadows, time koows no delay; and they will one day learn by bitter experience, what substantial, important, and eternal blessings they have lost by their criminal and shameful waste of time. The apostle Peter assures then ; 2 Pet. ï. 3. Though they slumber and sleep in a lethargy of sio, so that you cannot awaken them, yet “ their judgment lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." The awful moment is hastening upon them, wbich shall teach them terribly the true value of time. Then they would give all the golden pleasures, and the riches, and the grandeur of this world, to purchase one short day more, or one hour of time, wherein they might repent, and return to God, and get within the reach of hope and salvation : But time, and salvation, and hope are all vanished, and fled, and gone out of their reach, for ever.
Reflection JV. Learn, from such meditations as these, “the rich mercy of God, and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in giving us so long a warning, before he swears that time shall be no more." Every stroke of sickness is a warning-piece, that life is coming to its period : Every death amongst our friends and acquaintance is another tender and painful admonition, that our death also is at hand : The end of every week and every dawning sabbath is another warning; every sermon we hear of the shortness of time and the uncertainty of life is a fresh intimation, that the great angel will shortly pronounce a period upon all our time. How inexcusable shall we be if we turn the deaf ear to all these warnings ? St. Peter advises us to count the long-suffering of the Lord for salvation.” 2. Pet. iii, 15. and to secure our eternal safety, and our escape from hell during the season of his lengthened grace,
Alas! How long has Jesus, and his mercy, and his gospel waited on you, before you began to think of the things of your everlasting peace ? And if you are now solemnly awakened, yet how long has he waited on you, with fresh admonitions and with special providences, with mercies and judgments, with promises and invitations of grace, with threatenings and words of terror, and with the whispers and advices of his own Spirit, since you began to see your danger? And, after all have you yet sincerely repented of sin ? Have you yet received the offered grace? Have you given up yourselves to the Lord, and laid hold of his salvation? “ This is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation;" 2 Cor. vi. 2.“ To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts :" IIeb. iii. 7-il. It is never said, through all the bible, that to-morrow is the day of grace, or to-morrow is the time of acceptance : It is the present hour only that is offered. Every day and every hour is a mercy of unknown importance to sinful men : It is a mercy, 0 sinners, that you awaked not this morning in hell, and that you were not fixed without remedy beyond the reach of hope and mercy. Reflection V. Learn from this discourse what 6
a very useful practice it would be, to set ourselves, often before-hand, as at the end of time,” to imagine ourselves just under the sound of the voice of this mighty angel, or at the tribunal of Christ, and to call our souls to a solemn account, in what manner we have past away all our leisure time hitherto : I mean, all that time which hath not been laid out in the necessities of the natural life, for its support and its needful refreshment, or in the due and proper employments of the civil life ; both these are allowed and required by the God of nature, and the God of providence who governs the world ; but what hast thou done, O man, O wo:pan, what hast thou done with all the hours of leisure, which might have been laid out on far better employments, and to far nobler purposes ? Give me leave to enter into particulars a little, for generals do but seldom convince the mind, or awaken the conscience, or affect the heart.
1. Have you not slumbered or squandered away too much time witbout any useful purpose or design at all ? How many are there that when they have morning hours on their hands, can pass them off on their beds, and lose and forget time in a little more sleep and a little more slumber ; a few impertinencies with breakfast and dressing, wear, out the morning without God. And bow many afternoon and evening hours are worn away in such sauntering idleness, as I have described, that when the night comes, they cannot review one half hour's useful work, from the dawn of the morning to the hour of rest. Time is gone and vanished, and as they knew not what to do with it while it was present, so now, it is past, they know not what they have done with it: They keep no account of it, and are never prepared to come to a reckoning : But will the great Judge of all take this for an answer to such a solemn enquiry?
2. llave you never laid out much more time, than was needful, in recreations, and pleasures of sense? Recreations are not unlawful, so far as they are necessary, and proper to relieve the fatigue of the spirits, when they are tired with business or labour, and to prepare for new labours and new businesses : But have we not followed sports without measure, and without due limitation? Hath not some of that very time been spent in them
which should have been laid out in preparing for death and eternity, and seeking things of far higher importance ?
3. Have you not wasted too much time in your frequent clubs, and what you call good company, and in places of public resort. Hath not the tavern, or the coffee-house, or the alehouse seen and known you, from hour to hour, for a whole evening, and that sometimes before the trade or labours of the day should have been ended ? And when your bible, and your closei, or the devotion of your family, have sometimes called upon your conscience, have you not turned a deaf ear to them all?
4. Have not useless and impertinent visits been made to no good purpose, or been prolonged beyond all necessity or improvement? When your conversation runs low, even to the dregs, and both you and your friends liave been at a loss what to say next, and knew not how to fill up the time, yet the visit must go on, and time must be wasted. Sometimes the wind and the weather, and twenty insignificancies, or, what is much worse, scandal of persons or families, have come into your relief, that there might not be too long a silence : But not one word of God or goodness could find room to enter in, and relieve the dull hour. Is none of this time ever to be accounted for ? And will it sound well in the ears of the great Judge, « We ran to these sorry topics, these slanderous and backbiting stories, because we could not tell what to talk of, and we knew not how to spend our time.”
5. Have you not been guilty of frequent, and even perpetual delays or neglects of your proper necessary business in the civil life, or in the solemn duties of religion, by busying yourselves in some other needless thing, under this pretence, “ It is time enough yet!” Have you learned that important and etērnal rule of pru
never delay till to-morrow, what may be done to-day; never put off, till the next hour, what may be done in this?" Have you not often experienced your own disappointment and folly by these delays ? And yet have you ever so repented, as to learn to mend them ? Solomon tells us ; Eccles. iii. 1. There is a time for every purpose, and every work under the sun : a proper and agreeable time for every lawful work of nature and life; and it is the business and care of a wise man to do proper work in proper time; but when we have let slip the proper season, how often have we been utterly disappointed ? llave we not sustained great inconveniencies? And sometimes it hath so happened, that we could never do that work or business at all, because another proper season for it hath never offered : Tiine hath been no more. Felix put off his discourse with Paul, about the faith of Christ, and righteousness, and judgment to come, to a more convenient time, which probably dever came; Acts xxiv. 25. And the