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I RISE to address you upon a most solemn occasion; an occasion which forces the conviction on me, that, as well the

speaker, as the hearer, must die.

It was the desire of the deceased, while yet alive, that, at his funeral, a discourse might be delivered adapted to solemnize the mind, and benefit the living; but not to panegyrize the dead.

Your attention is therefore requested to that passage of inspiration, recorded in

II. TIMOTHY iv. 6.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my
departure is at hand.

THESE are the words of Paul the great apostle of the Gentiles, in which he has a special reference to himself. Though he was educated in the Pharisaic system of religion, yet, by the astonishing grace of God towards him, he was powerfully constrained to renounce that system, and to embrace the religion of the Gospel. Not only did Paul become friendly at heart to Christianity, and zealous for the faith he once destroyed, but was advanced to the office of an apostle, to which he devoted his life, and in which he spent the residue of his days. In discharging the duties of his office, he endured great persecution and hatred. That scheme of sentiments he embraced, preached, and, in a most masterly manner, defended, was opposite to the general opinion of mankind, whether Jews or Gentiles, and tended to sap their religion at the root. This gave them great disgust, and on

this account, they considered and treated him as their enemy. So that, as he himself declares, the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, That bonds and afflictions abide me. However, in his view, the cause he espoused was so glorious and important, tending so much to advance the honour of God, and the eternal welfare of mankind, that none of those things moved him, neither counted he his life dear unto himself: so that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God

When he wrote this epistle, he was a prisoner at Rome for the cause of Christianity; and soon expected to suffer as a martyr for the truth. Hence, as in the passage before us, he says, Now I am ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. In this passage, two important ideas are disclosed. One in that clause of the verse, For I am now ready to be offered; the other in this, and the time of my departure is at hand.

Some attention to each of these two ideas is designed in the following discourse.

I. I shall point out in some particulars, when the time of persons' death or departure is at hand.

II. Show what is implied in readiness for death.

Lastly. Conclude the subject with remarks and addresses suited to the present mournful occasion.

I. I shall point out, in some particulars, when the time of persons' death or departure is at hand.

1. In a comparative view, this is ever true of them while here in the world.

No sooner do we enter upon the theatre of life, than death pursues us, and whatever may be our expectations, it is but a little time before it will overtake us, and conclude the sad story of our pilgrimage on earth. To a person in youthful days, seventy or eighty years appear a long period, and could he be assured of living to that age, it would go far towards equalling his wishes. But how great is the mistake! Such it is known to be by those who have had the trial. The blooming youth may dote on old age, and think the man with an hoary head has lived till length of days has made him

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In suc

weary of the world ; but measure the existence of such an one with any thing durable, and it is as nothing. In the first

. age of the world, the life of man was near a thousand

years ; afterwards it was reduced to four or five hundred. ceeding time, it was shortened to the space of between one and two hundred years. And now, at last, we can reckon only threescore years and ten. Now, compare a life of the last period with the first, and it is short indeed.

But if we still further compare it with our future, endless existence, it is but a point; it is as nothing.

Agreeably to this, it is written, Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. For what is your life? it is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. The days of men on the earth, are said to be as an hand-breadth, and their age as nothing before God.

2. This is more emphatically the case with persons how few soever their years, months, or days have been, if yet the greater part of them are past, and there remains but a step between them and eternity.

Observation, as well as the book of the Scriptures, teaches, that there is no age secure from death. Mankind die in infancy, and youth, and in every other period of life. No external circumstances whatever, ensure future continuance on earth. A firm constitution is no effectual bar against the arrows of death. The greatest caution in diet, labour, recreation, and sleep, affords no certainty of so much as to-morrow. Hence it is written, Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. A bow, shot at a

A venture, may wing its way with unerring aim, and hit the mark—an unexpected arrow from the Almighty's quiver, may do execution. Some fatal disease may suddenly seize thein, and bring them down to the grave; or some accident may happen to put a period to their life. Men may die by the hand of violence, or more immediately by the hand of God. Innumerable are the avenues of death ; and in ways

little thought of by mankind, may they be called to depart out of the world.

Persons of every age, sex, and condition, in an infinite variety of circumstances, give up the ghost, and cease to be numbered with the living. However limited, then, the time of their existence in this world, if the greatest part of their days are finished, and they on the borders of eternity, this with propriety may be said of them, Their departure is at hand.

3. This, then, is evidently the case of those who have past the age of men, and yet are continued among the living. The departure of such is most clearly at hand. With them it is the eleventh hour of the day. They have survived the morning and meridian of life, and their sun, like that in the western sky declining behind the hills, is just ready to set. The last sand in their glass is running; the curtain of time closing; and eternity, immense, and boundless, soon, very soon, to open to their view. They feel the decays of nature, and may know their dissolution draweth nigh. But a step divides between them and the world of Spirits. Their next remove is into the unseen state.

The departure of other people may be at hand, and they not know it. They may fancy they shall live many years, and hope to rejoice in them all. But aged persons may know, both from their own observation and the word of God, that their day is over, and the night of death at hand, which will for ever separate them from all transitory things. Yet if they can say with sincerity, they are now ready to be offered, they are happy.

Though, in one view they are to be pitied, in another their situation is more to be envied, than that of any other people on this side heaven. They are to be pitied, considering the burdens and sorrows, the troubles and calamities, which attend their declining days : but otherwise their condition is blessed indeed.

They have almost finished a weary pilgrimage on earth ; they have crossed the rocks and mountains, precipices and miry places which attend the journey of life, and are soon to enter upon the wished-for rest, which remains for the people of God.

The situation of such is similar to that of the mariners, who have been a voyage to a distant country, and are returning home. The voyage hath been dangerous, the sea boisterous, ,

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and their lives eminently exposed. They have been tossed from billow to billow in jeopardy, from hidden shoals and towering waves : but finally the much desired port heaves in sight-they enter the harbour with a propitious gale, and brush the azure deep. The distance between them and the shore continually decreases ; and now nothing remains but to furl the sails, drop anchor, and leap to the shore of the long, long wished-for peaceful haven.

II. Proceed we now to show what is implied in readiness for death.

And in general it implies the same, as a readiness for heaven, or the enjoyment of that glorious world.

Here I am sensible, the question will arise, wherein consists a readiness for heaven?

It is most clearly not true, that mankind, as they are in themselves, are ready to die, by being qualified for heaven. A change must therefore take place in them, whereby they specifically differ from the rest of the world, that thereby they may be ready to die, by being prepared for heaven.

1. With respect to a right and title to heaven.

That a person may enter, and take possession of an earthly inheritance, it is necessary he should have a good title. Unless his title is good, he has no right to enter and improve as his own. Neither, unless persons have a good title to heaven, are they prepared to die, being as yet disqualified for that world. But how a title to heaven is obtained, is a great question.

This is our answer. 1. Not by the merit of persons' own doings, or by their obedience to the perfect law.

For, let it be considered, they are under a law, which requires sinless perfection, on pain of eternal death. This law they have broken, and thus failed of that sinless obedience which it requires; consequently, they have fallen under its awful curse. If, therefore, they have merited any thing, it is hell, by their disobedience.

For them now to go to the law to get life, and to imagine by their own obedience to its demands, to reverse the sentence of condemnation, is folly in the extreme. As well may they think to countermand the laws of nature, and stop the sun in

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