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Reflecting on the End of Our Life

Reflecting on the End of Our Life

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The living know that they shall die.

The living know that they shall die.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Sep 24, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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REFLECTIG O THE ED OF OUR LIFEBY SAMUEL HORSFALLECCLESIASTES IX. 5.The living know that they shall die.There is no man, were he told in common con-versation with his friends and acquaintance, thathe should die at one time or other, but would begreatly surprised; nay, perhaps offended at thesupposition of his being ignorant of an universally-acknowledged truth. The misfortune is, we liveas if we did not know it. The cares or the plea-sures of the world have taken such hold of oursouls, that this knowledge of our mortality has noeffect upon us; and yet it is a knowledge that con-cerns us most, and ought to live in our remem-brance: it decides our destiny for eternity, whe-ther of happiness or misery. It is well, therefore,122 SERMO IX.there are events which involuntarily bring theknowledge of our death to our minds, and fill themwith those just reflections they ought at all timesto entertain. The death of our friends and neigh-bours must have this effect; for no one, I shouldsuppose, can witness the solemnity of a personcarried to the grave, without experiencing thosesentiments of his own death, which are becominga man who knows that he shall die.The age, indeed, at which the stroke of deathmay meet us is very uncertain, and on which we
can have no reliance. Let us live ever so long,we still know that we must die at last; nay, thatthe longer we live, the nearer we approach to it.Is the death of others then the only circumstancethat can bring us to reflect on our mortality ? Alas !there are but small hopes that such reflections willoutlive the ceremony. We daily, nay hourly, seeour friends attacked with a pining sickness, thatcarries them to the grave at all ages: we see somecut off suddenly in infancy, in youth, and in thefull strength of their age: we see others live to agood old age, and then being stricken in years.SERMO IX. U3they fade away suddenly like the grass : then '* the*' living must know that they shall die** like them.We cannot be unacquainted with this truth j norwill any man plead ignorance of it; for he is fre-quently called upon to have his feelings sensiblyaffected with grief, by giving his attendance toplace the corpse of a friend in the grave : he feelsa genuine sorrow at the moment, and can drop atear over the ashes of the dead; but then, with thegrave that he leaves, his sorrow too often departs.The cares of the world soon take such possessionof him, that though a tender remembrance maynow and then pass over his mind, of the friends hehas lost, and a hope arise that he shall hereafterbe permitted to join them; yet it has not the pro-per effect, so as to produce that sense of his mor-tality which, as a christian, he ought to entertain.It is not required to have our thoughts so intenton this subject, as to preclude those which arenecessary for every man in his respective calling.As born for society, man must have those reflec-tions which will enable him to become an usefulmember thereof: nay, he must have relaxations
R 9,lU SERMO IX.from the labour which his profession or calhng re-quires: but then the thoughts of his mortality willever incite a good christian to that religious cir-cumspection over his words and actions, as willshew he has a just sense of the importance of hav-ing an immortal spirit, that is to return to thatGod who gave it 3 for the salvation of which, althougha Saviour died on the cross, in whose merits heplaces implicit faith; yet to prove its sincerity, heobeys the righteous mandates of that Saviour, asfar as in him lies: and in his dealings with man-kind, he makes the precepts of his Gospel the onlystandard of his actions. Well knowing that '^ the" living they shall die," he never prays to God,but he bewails the sins and infirmities of his na-ture, and strives to subdue and overcome them.Thus by a continual mortification of his unrulywills and affections, he endeavours to prevent thenecessity of imploring the divine forgiveness at theawful hour of dissolution: he knows the hazardof an immortal soul is too great to be left to adeath-bed repentance.A death-bed repentance! A sudden stroke of SERMO IX. U5this king of terrors may meet him in the full careerof his days: his arrows are perpetually flyingabroad, and strike where least expected. The in-fant in the arms, the youth in his prime, and man in

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