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frequent conversation with him. - This event should also excite us to greater circumspection in our general conduct. For it is the voice of our sovereign Lord to us; and its language is, Ere long, and ye also must give an account of your stewardship. We should, therefore, often examine the state of our souls, and the tenour of our conversation. We should be more concerned than ever, to express, in our own tempers and lives, the genius and tendency of that gospel we preach to others, so as to be a pattern of godliness to them. For though our hearers live under the same system of divine laws with ourselves; and though they are equally bound to observe those laws; yet our separation from secular employments, and our station in the church of God, must be considered as additional motives to an exemplary conversation. And as providence, has made a breach, both in the church to which the Deceased stood related, and in our own connection, as ministers; we should be careful to cultivate the most friendly regard to that community, in its present circumstances, and the warmest affection one to another, as not knowing how soon we may be separated by repeated strokes of the same sovereign hand.
And what shall I say to you, in general, that are giddy, and thoughtless, and unconverted? Some of you came hither, it may be, with no more devotion or seriousness, than if you had been going to the playhouse; and have heard, perhaps, with as little regard to your own dissolution, as if not a word had been said relating to it. Your state commands my pity ; but the temper of your hearts deserves abhorrence. What, will you treat the admonitions of Providence and the solemnities of death, the
truths of God and the welfare of your own souls, as if they were trifling things! Blessed God! that ever thy creatures should thus despise thee! that rational beings should thus forget themselves! What if Jehovah should swear in his wrath, Ye shall never enter into my rest? What if God should retaliate upon you, and have as little regard to your happi. ness, as you have to his honour? What, if the favour he shew to your souls, should be exactly proportioned to the delight which you take in his worship? What, then, would become of you? Must you not sink and perish for ever, as the despisers of Christ, as enemies of God, and as in imical to your own felicity? Remember, sinners, that ye are in the hands of an offended Sovereign, and quite uncertain how he will dispose of you, May the God of all grace enlighten your minds and awaken your consciences. May he convert your hearts, and manifest his infinite mercy in your salvation. Or else, when death approaches, it will not be, as it is often falsely represented, to exact a debt that is due to nature; much less will it come, as a messenger of peace: but as a minister of divine justice, to arrest your persons and compel your appearance at the bar of God; there to answer for all
your unhallowed tempers and criminal conduct. . Then, being intirely deserted by divine goodness, your present disaffection to the government and grace of God, will ripen into rage and become perpetual: and, as the desert of sin, as a righteous punishment, you must suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. I feel, I tremble for you. Nor can I forbear an ardent petition, that omnipotent grace may prevent such a state of everlasting wickedness, and Such an immense ruin. Amen.
MR. JOSEPH SWAIN,
PASTOR OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH AT WALWORTII,
Who departed this life, April 14, 1796.
In the long list of human evils, which every one beholds, the most prominent, the most certain, and the most solemn, is death-death, which is called the king of terrors. It is the common lot of mankind; nor is there any discharge in that war. The hour of our departure hence, though perfectly known to God, is to us a profound secret: nor, when the time allotted for us on earth is expired, can any one prevail on the last enemy to suspend the fatal stroke. No: the aids of medicine, the tears of relatives, and the prayers of pious friends, are all in vain.
Since, therefore, death is confessedly so awful and so certain, while the moment of its arrival is to us absolutely unknown; to stand prepared for it, must be of the highest importance. The general inattention of mankind to an article of such consequence, affords very striking evidence of human depravity. But, thoughtless as men in common are about their approaching dissolution, and the consequences of it; yet, when they follow their deceased friends to the grave, they can hardly forbear to anticipate, more or less, the solemnities of their own departure.
The circumstances attending death are such as plainly show, that God considers our world as a