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ON THE LAST DAY OF THE YEAR.
MATT. XXIV. 38, 39.
As in the days that were before the flood, they were eating
and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the food came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
NEARLY the whole of the chapter from which the text has been taken, is occupied by our Saviour in prophetic descriptions of two most awful and interesting events--of the judgment to be inflicted upon the rebellious Jews, in the utter destruction of their city by the Roman armies; and of his own second coming to judge the world.
Both these events are described as stealing upon men with the suddenness of a thief in the night. And our Lord has observed, that they would find a large portion of mankind engrossed in the same heedless pursuit of worldly vanities and interests; immersed in
the same forgetfulness of God and of his vengeance; and in the same thoughtless disregard for the salvation of their souls, as that in which the flood surprised and destroyed the inhabitants of the earth in the days of Noah.
"For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of man be."
This general description of the avidity with which mankind will prefer their temporal to their spiritual interests, harmonizes very closely with Christ's declaration, that "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it"." It is a description which merits our serious attention. It brings to view points in our characters and propensities, which ought at all times to alarm, and awaken us to a sense of the awful situation in which we stand, as corrupt, mortal, and responsible beings; and it suggests reflections, to which the present time gives peculiar interest and peculiar claims upon our attention'. THE LAST DAY OF THE YEAR
h Matt. vii. 14.
i Many sentiments of this Sermon have been borrowed from Bishop Horne's and Zollikoffer's Sermons. It will be seen,
IS NOW PASSING. Twelve hours more ! and another large division of the time allotted to us, for the great work of our salvation, will
, have entirely elapsed. Who can assure himself, that he shall be permitted to see the termination of another year? Who can assure himself that his “ day," the only time in which he can do his important work, will not have passed, and the “ night of death have overtaken him, before the end of the next year ? Who can affirm that he shall not, long before that time, have closed his eyes in that deep slumber, from which nothing can rouse him, save the “ trumpet” that “ shall sound", summon the quick and dead before the judgment-seat of Christ?
Look around you! Are all these seats filled precisely as they were at the beginning of this year? Are none wanting here, who then heard the word of God, the voice of warning and admonition; who then sat among you, in as full enjoyment of health and strength, and with as good a prospect of long life, as any of you now possess ? Nay, even narrow the
however, that it is by no means a copy of these authors.; though the writer of it does not pretend to novelty upon a subject so often discussed, as the duties suggested by the close of the old, or the beginning of the new year.
* 1 Cor. xv. 52.
circle of your observation.
observation. Is there no one that finds a chasm, in even the little sphere of individual connexions? Is there none, who misses a neighbour, a friend, a relation, a parent, a child, a partner? Is there one person so blind as not to see the work of death continually proceeding, with indiscriminate disregard of rich or poor, old or young,
weak or strong ? Look then to these things. Will any
of you, with recollections such as these before you, will any
of you pretend to assure yourselves, that your existence shall be protracted to the close of another year? Every one may flatter himself with the hope, that he shall live so long, but can he assure himself of it? Can he pretend to any thing like certainty? If then the period of life be so very uncertain, as beyond all question it is, surely the state of our soul, our present hopes of salvation are no trivial considerations'. How, supposing we are now finishing the last year of our probation, how are we prepared to give an account of ourselves before the tribunal of Almighty God?
1“Suppose any person had means of being assured, and actually were answered, that he should die upon the last day of the year into which he is now entered, we should all agree upon
the manner in which such person ought to spend the year. There would not be, I dare say, one dissentient voice. Yet, upon the supposition here made, this person has before
, him a whole year certain. Is not the obligation then still stronger upon every one of us ? For that man must be out of his senses, who can bring himself to imagine that he has a whole year certain, or a month, or a day, or an hour. The argument is not to be answered."--Bp. Horne's Sermons, vol. ii. p. 96.
But, I am fully aware how difficult, not to say almost impracticable, it is to impress on the generality of mankind a sufficient and permanent sense of the perilous and precarious situation in which they are constantly placed. In spite of all that can be said they will delude themselves with an unwavering confidence in the enjoyment of long life, and of being secure of ample time for repentance; or else will entirely avert their attention from the consideration of their danger to the more attractive engagements of profit or pleasure. We will, therefore, no longer dwell upon
this argument; let us take the subject in another point of view. Many of
you have what you consider a good prospect of a much longer life, you see nothing, at present, which calls upon you to pay any particular attention to the state of preparation, in which you are with respect to your final account; you will not contemplate, with any degree of seriousness, the chance of your dying within a year! be it so, but still