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the twinkling of an eye suffices; who can be pleased whilst he stands naked and disarmed in the midst of his enemies? Amongst as many enemies is man as there are ways to death, which are innumerable; it is not then safe for man to be. disarmed and naked of the grace of God, in the midst of so many adversaries and dangers of death, which hourly threaten him. What person, being led to execution, would entertain himself by the way with vain conceits? We are condemned persons, who are going to execution, though by different ways, which we ourselves know not, some the straight way, and some by by-paths, but are all sure to meet in death; we ought therefore still to be prepared, and free from the dis'tracting pleasures of this life, for fear we fall suddenly; this danger of sudden death is sufficient to make us distaste all the delights of the earth.

Death is therefore uncertain, that thou shouldest be ever certain to despise this life, and dispose thyself for the other; thou art every hour in danger of death, to the end, that thou shouldest be every hour prepared to have life; what is death but the way unto eternity? A great journey thou hast to make; wherefore dost thou not provide in time? and the rather, because thou knowest not how soon thou mayest be forced to depart. Who is there, who does not desire to have served God faithfully two years, before death should take him? If, then, thou art not sure of one, why dost thou not begin? Trust not in thy health or youth, for death steals treacherously upon us, when we least look for it; promise not thyself to-morrow, for thou knowest not whether death will come to-night.

Since, then, thou knowest not when thou art to die, think thou must die to-day; and be ever prepared for that which may ever happen; trust in the mercies of God, and implore them incessantly; but presume not to defer thy conversion for a moment; for who knows whether thou shalt ever from henceforward have time to call upon him? and having called upon him, whether thou shalt be heard? To what purpose defer we that until to-morrow, which imports so much to be done to-day, and perhaps will not be tomorrow, if not to-day? It was a very good answer that Messodamus gave one, inviting him to a feast the next day: "My friend," saith he, "why dost thou invite me against

to-morrow? I durst not, for these many years, secure myself that I should live one day; for I have expected death every hour." No man is sufficiently armed against death, unless he be always prepared to entertain it.

3. To this uncertainty of death is to be added that of being only one, and only once to be tried; so as the error of dying ill cannot be amended by dying well another time. God gave unto man his senses and other parts of his body double; he gave him two eyes, that, if one failed, he might serve himself of the other; he gave him two hands, that, if one were lost, yet he might not wholly be disabled; but of deaths he gave but one; and, if that one miscarry, all is ruined. A terrible case, that the thing which most imports us, which is to die, hath neither trial, experience, nor remedy it is but only once to be acted, and that in an instant, and upon that instant all eternity depends, in which if we fail, the error is never to be amended.

If an ignorant peasant, who had never drawn a bow, should be commanded to shoot at a mark far distant, upon condition that, if he hit it, he should be highly rewarded with many rich gifts; but if he missed it, and that at the first shoot, he should be burnt alive, in what straits would this poor man find himself! how perplexed that he should be forced upon a thing of that difficulty wherein he had no skill, and that the failing should cost him so dear as his life; but especially that it was to be only once to be assayed, without possibility of repairing the first fault by a second trial! This is our case: I know not how we are so pleasant; we have never died, we have no experience or skill in a thing of so great difficulty; we are only once to die, and in that all is at stake; either eternity of torments in hell, or of happiness in heaven how live we then so careless of dying well, since for it we were born, and are but once to try it? This action is the most important of all our life; upon it depends eternity; and, if missed, without repair or amendment. These human actions which may be repeated, if one miss, the other may hit; and that which is lost in one way, may be regained in another. If a rich merchant had this year a ship sunk in the ocean, another may arrive laden with such riches as may recompense the loss of the former; but if we once fail in death, the loss is never to be repaired.

That which is but only one, is worthy of more care and esteem, because the loss of it is irreparable; let us then value the time of this life, since there is no other given wherein to gain eternity.

A certain soldier being called in question by Lamachus, a centurion, for some misdemeanour or other committed in the camp, earnestly desired pardon for that once, and promised never to offend in the like again. But the centurion made him this answer: "" In bello, bone vir, non licebit bis peccare; O sir! know you thus much, there is no offending in war twice." But in death, alas! there is no offending once; there is no hope of pardon; once dead, and always dead; he that dies once ill, is damned for ever; there is no returning again to rise, to amend what is done amiss; as death leaves a man, so judgment finds him; and as judgment leaves him, so eternity findeth him.

If a man were obliged to leap some great and desperate leap, upon condition, that, if he performed it well, he should be made master of a wealthy kingdom; but if ill, he should be chained to an oar, and made a perpetual galley-slave; without doubt this man would use much diligence in preparing himself for so hazardous an undertaking, and would often practise before an action of so great consequence, from which he expected so different fortunes. How far more different are those, which we expect from so great a leap as is from life to death; since the kingdoms of the earth, compared with that of heaven, are trash, rubbish; and the tugging at an oar, in the gallies, compared with hell, a glory. When the leap is great and dangerous, he who is to leap it, uses to fetch his career backwards, that he may leap further, and with greater force: we, therefore, knowing the danger of the leap from life to death, that we may perform it better, ought to fetch our career far back, even from the beginning of our short life; and from our first use of reason, from which we shall know, that the life we live is mortal, that at the end of it we have a great debt to pay, and that we are to discharge both use and principle, when we least think of it.

It was the saying of Iphicrates, That it is a shame for an emperor at any time to say with the fool, "Non putâram, I did not think it ;" but it is a greater shame for a Christian man to say, "Non putâram," I did not think there had been

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such a difference between a godly and wicked life; I did not think eternity was to follow after this life; I did not think I should have died so suddenly.

Let us therefore husband time in which we may gain eternity, which being once lost, we shall lose both the time of this life, and the eternity of the other. How many millions are now in hell, who, whilst they were in this world, despised time, and would now be content to suffer, thousands of years, all the torments of the damned, for the redemption of one instant, in which they might, by repentance, recover the eternal life of glory, which is now lost without remedy! And yet thou castest away not only instants, but hours, days, and years! Consider what a damned person would give for some part of that time which thou losest; and take heed that thou hereafter, when there shall be no repair of that time, which thou now so vainly mispendest, be not thyself in the same grief and bitterness.

We are now upon the stage, therefore we may act on our part; we have to deal with potent enemies, therefore we must be always prepared to fight; we are still in our race, therefore we must hold out to the last; let us then so act our parts, that the angels may rejoice to be spectators; let us so fight, that we may win the crown; let us so run, that we may obtain.

Consider how by time thou mayest gain eternity: look not then upon the loss of it, as upon the loss of time, but of eternity; endeavour then, whilst it lasts, to get a good bargain; for this life once past, there is no more occasion for traffic, the time appointed for storing up is but short; but the gain and profit is eternal: therefore leave the cares of this world, and elevate your whole heart and affections unto heaven, and there place your thoughts, which are to be upright and settled, in God Almighty.

I know, O Lord, I am here but as a sojourner in a strange land, and not as a citizen in my own country. I am here but a tenant at will, and must shortly depart; for here I have no continuing city; but I must seek one to come, eternal in the heaven; where I shall bear a part in the heavenly quire with angels, evermore praising thy holy

a Heb. xiii. 14.

name; there I shall behold light incomprehensible; where I shall be in no fear of death. Farewell, then, all the world, and all the things in it; "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done;" and welcome to me, thou art welcome eternally, O beloved, eternally thou art welcome; now I am blessed, O Lord, for I shall dwell in thy house, and shall still be praising thee.


Of that Moment wherein we are to die, and Life to end.

We ought seriously to consider all which is to pass in that moment of death, for which the time of this life was only bestowed upon us; and upon which depends the eternity of the other. O most dreadful point, which art the end of time, and beginning of eternity! O most fearful instant, which shuttest up the prefixed term of this life, and determinest the business of our salvation! how many things are to pass in thee? In the same instant life is to finish, all our' works to be examined; and that sentence given, which is to be executed for all eternity. O last moment of life! O first of eternity! how terrible is the thought of thee, since in thee not only life is to be lost, but to be accounted for, and we then to enter into a region which we know not; in that moment I shall cease to live, in that moment I shall behold my Judge, who shall lay all my sins open before me, with all their weight, number, and enormity. In it I shall receive a strict charge of all the Divine benefits bestowed upon me; and in it a judgment shall pass upon me, either for my salvation, or damnation eternal! How wonderful is it, that for so many matters, and of so great importance, there is no more. time allotted than the space of an instant; no place left for reply, intercession of friends, or appeal! O fearful moment, upon which so much depends! Admirable is the high wisdom of God, which hath placed a point in the midst betwixt time and eternity, unto which all the time of this life is to relate, and upon which the whole eternity of the other is to depend!

a Psal. Ixxxiv. 4.

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