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In practically applying the subject, I would solve some fears and address different characters. I would first SOLVE SOME FEARS that may hinder and retard you in receiving this grace.
Perhaps you are afraid of this world's ridicule. If you become earnest in religion, you will be counted singular, and you cannot bear the laugh of your companions. O it is one of the most wonderful of the blindnesses and obliquities of our fallen nature, that persons wise and sensible in other things, who would not be laughed out of any worldly gain, should in a case so infinitely important, bend to a sneer, and be turned aside by a mere scoff. Be not you laughed out of your sense of religion. Risk not so foolishly your soul. If you are so afraid of ridicule, think what ridicule will be worst at last. If a foolish companion can thus now affect you, how will you bear to be the laughing stock of Satan, and the scorn of all his hosts through eternity? O the inexpressible folly of squandering away in mere earthly business, in vain pleasures, in idleness, in pomp and empty shew, in ambition and the glory of this transitory world, that day of grace in which you might gain solid and everlasting joy and an exceeding and eternal weight of glory!
Perhaps you fear that the day of grace may be past. Do you really fear this? the fear itself is a hopeful sign, and shews that conscience is
not yet seared or past feeling; but O let not the enemy contrive by such a fear to keep you inert and inactive, doing nothing till the day of grace be past.
One more fear may be an impediment to you. You may fear that you are not among God's elect, and therefore it is no use for you to strive. Who can tell you that you are not among his elect; his decree of election is ever secret, till it is happily manifested by our turning to him; not feignedly, but with all the heart. Repent and believe, and you shall assure your election.
Do you fear that you have not repented and believed, and feel that you are unable to do so? Remember that Jesus is exalted to bestow these and all other spiritual blessings upon you, Acts
I would in conclusion address different characters
Have any reason to think that hitherto they have received the grace of God in vain, that they are yet in their sins: O, I beseech you, look diligently now, lest you fail of the grace of God. There is no time for farther delay. The Sun of righteousness has been shining for hours in the day of grace, and you have hitherto been fast asleep; the night cometh when no man can work; now cry mightily for grace. O let not the sermon you are now hearing find and leave your
heart hardened; but let it be as the awakening voice of the Saviour, leading you effectually to receive his grace.
Have any a besetting sin that entrammels and hampers them. It is the day of grace and gospel liberty. Bring the power of grace against the power of sin, and it shall conquer your mightiest corruption. (Rom. v. 21.) Divine grace shall be sufficient for you. Only Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
Are any backsliding from God, and dishonouring their holy vocation by sinful practices-still we proclaim the day of grace, and say, Yet return again unto me, saith the Lord; I will heal their backslidings and love them freely. Remember from whence you have fallen, repent and do the first works, and all shall be blotted out, and you shall yet be blessed and a blessing.
Are there any waiting, in the use of the means of grace, to receive grace. You shall not wait in vain. Let nothing turn you back from patiently waiting on the Lord, and expecting his grace. Do you please God your Saviour, though for this the whole world should be displeased. Let the righteous hold on his way, and he shall be stronger and stronger. (Job xvii. 9.) In Jesus there is an inexhaustible fulness, and out of that fulness, day by day, you shall receive grace for grace.
ECCLESIASTES XII. 7.
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.
It becomes a wise man to prepare for any event of importance which he has reason to believe will assuredly take place. Such a preparation is the more suitable and needful, when the event is not only certain and important, but its character becomes materially affected by our previous conduct with reference to it. And it is yet more incumbent to think beforehand, of such an event, if due preparation be attended with immensely beneficial consequences, nay, with nothing less than eternal life and glory. But what tongue can tell the madness of this neglect of prepara
tion, if, in addition to every thing else, the loss of all that bliss, and the suffering of eternal woe, be the certain consequence of that neglect. Death and judgment, and their issues, hell or heaven, must be regarded as events of this description, and for which preparation is no less reasonable than it is indispensable.
O that I could entertain the hope that all your minds, without exception, were quickened to a realizing view of these momentous events. May the Lord bless the consideration of them now, to your everlasting good.
I begin with bringing before you the subject of death, that time in reference to which it is said in our text,-Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
Let us consider,
1. THE EVENT REFERRED TO.
2. ITS IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES. 3. ITS PRACTICAL USE.
I. THE EVENT REFERRED TO.
Solomon, who had been describing, in highly figurative language, the gradual decay of the body and its dissolution, (Eccles. xii. 1-6.) in our text, brings before us the immediate results of that dissolution. The event then is death; the separation of the soul from the body;-the spirit