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Short notice, or the certain arrival of some earthly good or ill, for the most part, excites great attention, and produces instant and effectual preparation.
Suppose, for instance, a man engaged in traffic of any kind, to hear of some event whereby his profit were in danger; he would instantly set himself to work to prepare for it; and were be to hear of any thing of an opposite kind, he would rejoice in earnest, and shew that he rejoiced.
Suppose the men who live in what the world calls pleasure, were told of some sudden and unexpected pleasure. Would they not immediately catch at it with eagerness, and make busý preparation for enjoying it?
But, for the matter taught in that character wherein the text speaks to us all, where, in general, is any thing like a sufficient interest felt, or sufficient preparation made? Who is hardy enough to deny, that we are but." as strangers and pilgrims upon earth;” and yet who lives, who hopes, and fears, as if he really believed it? A stranger has not his home where he sojourns, and a pilgrim is but a traveller to some distant place; and yet it'would seem that few: believed this of the journey of life; but that men deemed this world to be our imperishable dwelling-place, time our eternity, and that mortality were already swallowed up of immortality. " ) ! - How opposite all this is to the holy word of God, no one, who reads or hears that sacred word, can have the smallest doubt. Multiplied passages might be brought: "We are strangers before Thee and sojourners, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding."'*; ;“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.”+ What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." I
!! It does not, indeed, appear to have been the will of God, that this world was tever to have been our final home. Even Paradise was but to Adam and Eve a garden of delight, adapted to temporal want, and only introductory to the higher joys of an eternal heaven. When that was lost through sin, and the human race, in the persons of their first parents, were driven from the paradise of God, into the wilderness of this world, still stronger reasons offer why all must be considered as strangers and pilgrims.” For God, in his mercy, obscurely pointed to some distant home; and though the sentence of death was * 1 Chron. xxix. 15. + Eccles. i. 4.
I St. John, iv. 14.
passed upon them, yet was it assured to them, that a mighty conqueror of the serpent should one day break the power of their tempter, and so restore them to some better state, when the pilgrimage of life should be over.
Obscure as this knowledge appears to have been at first, it increased as the world
grew older; and we, who know how « life and immortality” have been clearly brought to light through the Gospel, can easily see how it is that we are, in this our fallen state of trial for eternity, but “strangers and pilgrims” upon earth. :)
We must be “strangers,” when we are so continually: commanded in Holy Scripture not to love this world ; not to fix our hopes upon this world, but upon the next; not to look upon earth otherwise, than as a place for a very short probation. · We must be
pilgrims,” when we are so expressly told that at the end only of our journey there is resta, It is, “ Blessed are the dead,” for “they rest from their labours."*
Christ never called this world our home: when He spake of our home, it was of a home elsewhere: " In my father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”+ And then, too, of the saints of old, the * Rev. xiv. 18.
St John, xvi. 2.
Holy Spirit hath declared that they “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims upon earth. For they that'say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country."*
But, besides this irresistible argument, is there not the same awakening proof in our own experience? Did not each of us, who are here, begin this pilgrimage of our life with many who are gone? But “ your fathers, where are they ? and the prophets, do they live for ever?”+ Where are the many thousands of the cotemporaries, known and funknown, first of our infancy, then of our youth, then of our maturer age? They did not sojourn so long as we have sojourned; and therefore they surely were“ strangers” only, in a land which they so soon quitted for ever; they could be but. pilgrims” on a journey, which 'so quickly brought them to tan end. If, to the experience of the millions who are gone before we go, this be so, must it not, one day or other, be equally realized to ourselves? When the beginning of the last year brought'these solemn thoughts before us,' were we not addressed by the ministers of religion, in common with some who are gone, whose
* Heb. xi. 13, 14. + Zech. i. 6.
pilgrimage hath since ended? Are not some of that very congregation missing in their plade, since the awful lesson, which a new year reads to every one, was taught to us both ?
The warning was then given to them, as it is now given to us. How they profited by it, is now known in that place where probation has ceased. Their end, and our present warning, still remain a lesson to ourselves. How we shall profit by the dispensation, the future only can make known. The inference however' is in one point awfully true, and joins with every proof which scripture gives, that we are all, the dead in their day, and we in ours, but.“ strangers and pilgrims" upon earth.
There are points in matters connected with religion, in which men will sometimes succeed in forcing upon their minds, even against conscience, a sort of disbelief of some unwelcome doctrine; and almost against hope of their being safe in their creed, they will gloomily or desperately sit down in their partial or total infidelity, and endeavour to be at rest. But upon the point before us, that we are all
strangers and pilgrims," no one, however in praetice he may make this world his home; however in viciousness of life, he may disown this short state of his being to be his proba