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that faith, which should be our governing principle; sure this is to be avoided, as we hope to be found ready.
2. As our faith is hurt hereby, and so our readiness for Christ's comir.g obstructed; we are surther hindered by the excess of our love even to lawful things, as we lose hereby a relish and love for what are most important. Our love to God, and divine objects, when it prevails, has a constraining power. We choose to converse with the things which we superlatively love; and as these are uppermost in our thoughts, life or practice, will be under an answerable influence. We shall love to think of death as the gate of life; dwell upon the subject, as this is a necessary preliminary to our enjoying what is most dear to us. Now, the more our love is prostituted to temporal things, we shall find that it is more sparingly exercised upon eternal ones. Consequently we shall think less frequently of these things, and this will discover itself in a proportioned conversation. Shall we not then guard against this idolatry, not merely from a consciousness of its abstracted guilt, hut the consequences which attend it.
As our avoiding what would unfit us for a comfortable meeting with Christ, is one thing referred to in our watching for his coming; so it supposes,
(2.) That we exercise ourselves to whatever may forward our preparedness to mect him. Qur Lord supposes this duty to be of a positive nature, when to the church of Sardis he says, Remember how thou hast received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent ;. if thou shall not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee: Rev. iii. 3. And ch. xvi. 15, of the same book, he says, Behold I come as a thief, blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments. This must be intended, when he bids us watch and pray that we enter not into temptation. Our duty cannot be discharged by mere negatives ; it is not enough that we do not sleep as do others, when our being employed through our whole lives, in such exercises as may make us, and keep us ready to die, is what God the Lord requires. Not that we are to be continually poring on the grave, or as if we failed in our duty, whenever we were from under an actual sense of our mortality. We shall acquit ourselves, so as to be accepted of Christ, if the following description does agree to our general conduct of life.
1. If heaven be a place with which we maintain a constant correspondence. When the apostle says in the names of all real Christians, our conversation is in heaven, we should take heed that we do not mistake him. He does not make it inconsistent with true piety, that this conversation should be. at any time interrupted; and our thoughts, and cares, and labours, return to earth, and earthly things. He would then speak of what no mere creature did ever attain to, instead of his assertions being univerally true. Nor would this be our duty, though possible, considering our present circumstances; who have frail, crazy, needy bodies, that claim a proper share in our regard; though we owe them an inferior one, to that which is due to our spiritual and immortal part. He means, that as the Christian’s general walk is agreeable to his professed expectation of heaven , so hither he retires for his chief joys, when free from what disturbed and interrupted such converse; that he is as little a stranger there as possible. He who keeps up such a correspondence, is inured to the thought of dying, and properly said to watch for Christ's coming, as he lives in that heaven which is chiefly dear to him, for Christ's sake.
2. If, while in this world, we are learning to leave it, we practice the duty which my text recommends. No wonder if their faces gather paleness, and sorrow fills their hearts, to whose minds death has scarce ever been present, till they 'see him coming to execute the sentence of a broken law. Good men have found it of ill consequence, that they have made death no more familiar to them, who the more he is a stranger, will appear the more terrible. They have upon this account felt fresh agonies in dying; and taking them from this world, has been like tearing the caul of their liearts in sunder. He who makes it-his daily business to sit loose from present things, rejoicing and weeping, as though he neither wept nor rejoiced ; who respects them only as conveniencies in his way, no part of the happiness to which he aspired; that realizes to his own mind the necessity of dying, the nature of that hard work, and lives in perfect friendship with the grave; that man properly watches for Christ's coming, and cannot be unready at his call.
3. If we see each day of our lives to keep all accounts clear, and balanced between God and us, we shall be approved as having discharged this duty. He who lets matters run on unsettled, shows that he is not apprehensive of his being speedily called to a reckoning; and he who dares not. venture to allow the arrears of one day to be unadjusted, tells God and the world, that he looks every night when his soul shall be required at his hands. The meeting will be terrible when death overtakes us unlooked for, and tells us that we have not a day to live, though the business of an whole life to do. This makes his visage ghastly, his stroke heavy, puts poison into his sting, turns the last into a fiery trial. But he who has studied the knowledge of himself, whose repentance has kept pace with the discoveries of his sin, who has made a fresh choice of God daily, and a fresh dedication of himself to his service, (as every day's sins are a virtual departure from him, and renunciation of his propriety in us) and a fresh application of the blood. of sprinkling; as this person can never be called únready, so he gives abundant evidence of his watching for the coming of Christ.
This is all I shall offer upon the first head, for explaining the duty of watchfulness, as it is recommended in the text. It supposes our avoiding, whatever either as amusement or incumbrance might make us less ready; and the exercising ourselves to whatever inay forward our preparedness to meet Christ at his coming.
II. I am now to show you the force of the reasoning, when this duty is urged from the consideration of the “ Son of man's coming in a day, and at an hour that we know not.” This duty is frequently pressed by the very same motive. The thought is the same, when Christ, says, ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning, therefore watch ; Mark xiii. 35. And when, as in the just mentioned Rev. iii. he enforces it, from his coming as a thief.
I take the substance of the argument to be sumed
up in these particulars: your unwatchfulness cannot prevent my coming; it will rob you of their comfort, whom I shall find ready; and make it a terrible coming to you.
In his recommending this duty, we must suppose our Lord to say,
1. Your unwatchfulness cannot prevent my coming; it is therefore wise in you to expect it. All your times are in my hands, your removal out of