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and advantages of doing their duty to God, to themselves and to the world. If they live, they will always find duties as great as they can possibly perform, with all their might. But if they neglect duty and religion in childhood or youth, they may never arrive at manhood, and much less to old age. God may justly cut short their day of grace and repentance, for their sinful negligence and presumption. And there will be no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave to which they are consigned. Their loss then will be irreparable. Their account will be sealed up for the last day. So God has expressly told every vain, thoughtless, impenitent, presumptuous youth. " Rejoice, O young man in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart and in the sight of thine eyes : but know thou that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” It is not only the duty, but the temporal and eternal interest of the young, to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and devote their best days to the service of God and the good of mankind. Young people are as much exposed to mortal diseases and fatal accidents, as those more advanced in life; and it is presumption in them to boast of to-morrow, or depend on time which they abuse.
4. If God requires men to employ all their time and talents in doing their duty, then none can be released from duty as long as their active powers and faculties are graciously continued to them. There are many who are very enterprising and diligent in serving themselves, and laying up goods for many years, until they have reached or passed the meridian of life; but then imagine they have no more duty to do for themselves, or for God, or for their fellow men, and resolve to spend the rest of their days in ease and self-enjoyment. This is a mark of their folly, ingratitude and aggravated guilt. The time they have lost, the mercies they have received, and their unimpaired powers and faculties, lay them under increased obligations to perform every duty to God and man and themselves, to the close of life. So David felt and acted. He served God and his generation, till his head was covered with gray hairs, and he was just ready to fall into the sleep of death. And good old Barzillai would not be tempted to spend the last remnant of his life in the amusements and enjoyments of a palace; but wisely and religiously resolved to employ the residue of his days in living to God, and preparing for eternity. God does not preserve the lives, the health, the strength and activity of men for nothing. He has something for them to do, so long as they are capable of knowing and doing their duty. And
And very often their duties increase as their years increase, and their contemporaries decrease and go off the stage of life. The decays of nature and the infirmities of age, and the disappointments and losses and bereavements they endure, are a tax which they ought to be willing to pay for their protracted time and opportunities of doing good. The obligations of the aged are continually increasing, to do whatsoever they find to do as long as they live.
5. If God requires men to employ all their time and talents in doing their duty, then there is reason to think they are guilty of more sins of omission, than of commission. There are, indeed, some individuals among mankind, who trample upon all laws, human and divine, and run to the greatest excess in sins of commission against God and man. But the great mass of mankind, through fear or some other motive, refrain from gross sins of commission. They neither lie, nor steal, nor rob, nor murder, but do a thousand things which are beneficial to themselves and to the world. Yet these men live in the habitual omission of innumerable duties which their hands might find to do. They omit reading the Bible, calling upon God, and attending public worship. And though they pay tithes and perform many external reputable duties, still they neglect ihe weightier matters of the law; judgment, mercy, faith, and the love of God. They entirely and constantly neglect paying a cordial obedience to any one of the divine commands. They live without God, without Christ, and without hope, in the world. They love themselves supremely and solely, and seek their own good supremely and solely, to the neglect of the duty they owe to God and to every one of their fellow creatures, and even to themselves. Their understanding is darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; so that they cannot find out what they have to do for God, or for themselves, or for their fellow men. Of course they live in the continual omission of duty. Though God has sent them into the world to do nothing but duty, yet they stand all their days idle, which is highly displeasing to God.' Accordingly Christ tells them that he will condemn them at the last day, for their sins of omission in particular. “Then shall he say to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave m
no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited me not." The sins of omission are little regarded by the eye of man, but they are always regarded by the eye of God. All men by nature are disposed to go out of the way of duty, and to become unprofitable. There are only a few who employ their time, and talents, and opportunities, in finding out and doing the things that God has required, and they have to do. They generally spend the whole of their precious and important life in this world in the total neglect of duty, and are but cumberers of the ground and abusers of mercy. How much more good might men do in the world than they actually do, and how much does the world suffer by their negligence in duty!
6. If men can do nothing for this world after death, then they ought to do all they can while they live, to leave it in a better state than they found it. They found it an evil world, full of sin and misery; and it is their duty to desire and endeavor to make it better. Every man who does his duty does something to promote the holiness and happiness of the world; and if all men would do all their duty, they would make it a paradise, and more holy and happy than if sin and death had never entered into it. Those who have done their duty in life have made the world better by living in it. We are now reaping the happy fruits of their faithful labors. Christ, and the prophets, and the apostles, and all good men who have lived and died in this world, have left us an example that we should follow their steps. Their benevolence extended to all future ages, and so should ours. They lived not for themselves, but for God and the good of the world; and we should live in the same manner, and do with our might whatsoever our hands find to do. God invites all where the gospel comes to enter into his vineyard, and labor for him and his people; and assures them that they shall receive what is right for their labor. If they gain five talents, he will double them; or if they gain ten talents, he will double them; or if they do the least thing for him, they shall in no wise lose their reward. If they will only place their interests in his interests, all his interests shall be theirs; which is the most precious and valuable reward they can possibly receive and enjoy.
7. This subject now calls upon all to inquire whether they are prepared to leave the world, and to commit their bodies to the grave, the house appointed for all living, and where there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, but darkness and oblivion. If they have done whatsoever their hands have found to do, with their might, from year to year, and from day to day, they are prepared to die; for they have nothing to do but to rest from their labors when they are called off from the stage of life. But who can look back upon such a perfectly well-spent life? No such person can be found. But still all may inquire, whether they ever found what God had for them to do in the world ; and if they did find their duty, when did
they find it? It was a discovery and a very great discovery. And since they made the discovery of their duty, have they done it with all their might? Or have they been idle, barren and unfruitful in the service of God? If they are conscious of this, and no doubt the most laborious, diligent and faithful are conscious of great negligence, — the admonition in the text applies to them, as well to the entirely and grossly negligent, in its full force and obligation. Whatsoever your hands find to do, do it with your might: for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither you are every day going
This especially concerns the aged. One* of your number left the world last week. His body is lodged in the grave. His work is done, and whether well done, we are not allowed to know. He was certainly very laborious through a long life. And if he was sincere in his family prayers, and in his steady attendance on public worship, he has undoubtedly gone to rest, though he neglected some duties, and a great one, of making a public profession of religion. His death is a loss, and a great loss to his aged, feeble, afflicted widow, whose case calls for the sympathy and compassion of all. His death is also a loss to his only son and family, and to all his children and grand-children. If they wish to find out their duty, they may discover many things in the life of their father and grandfather worthy of their regard and imitation. They have much reason for gratitude and submission. What this death says to one, it says to all, “ Watch.”
* Mr. Solomon Blake.
SERMON X X XI.
THE HOUSE OF THE GRAVE.
OCTOBER 15, 1826.
IF I wait, the grave is my house. -- Jos, xvii. 13.
Job's afflictions were so sudden, so complicated, and so distressing, that his friends hardly knew what to say to him ; and when they came to speak one after another, they said things very different, if not inconsistent. But whether they endeavored to sink or to raise his hopes, they mistook the means to effect their purpose. In this chapter, he replies to those who attempted to console him with the prospect of returning prosperity in this world. His case was too dark and gloomy to admit of consolation from any sublunary good, and he considers him who suggested the thought, as guilty of flattery. “ He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.” And he told them all, “ I cannot find one wise man among you.” After this, he goes on to say, that he built all his hopes of happiness, not upon living, but upon dying; not upon the present, but a future state. My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart. If I wait, the grave is my house: I have made my bed in the darkness. I have said to corruption, thou art my father ; to the worm, thou art my mother, and my sister. And where is now my hope ? as for my hope, who shall see it? They,” that is, my comforters, "shall go down to the bars of the pit; when our rest together is in the dust." He would have his friends, as well as himself, wait for death, and remember that the grave was their house, as well as his. Though their lives and his might be prolonged, yet this ought