2. ON INSENSIBILITY TO
Come, Oh! my soul, call in your scattered thoughts; collect your wandering
desires, and meditate with solemn awe on everlasting things. How busy
is the world! How big with designs, all resting on tomorrow! But tomorrow's
sun may never rise on thousands who are fondly hoping to behold a range of
following years. Short-sighted mortals! He who rules over all, has assigned
to each a limit, beyond which the worldling cannot pass. Man has an
appointed time upon earth; his days are days of an hireling. Oh! for true
wisdom to learn the measure of our days; and to compute with justness the
extent of life.
The volume of inspiration has done this with peculiar force and beauty.
There human life is compared to a sleep; to the rapidity of a flood; to a
tale that is told; to a vapor that appears for a little time; to a flower
which flourishes in the morning, and in the evening is cut down and
withered; to vanity; to a shadow that passes away.
Eternity—that solemn word soon passes from the lip; but who can grasp the
mighty, the immense idea, which this word ETERNITY conveys? All thought is
lost in its immensity, and swallowed up in its fathomless abyss. The mind
may conceive, though faintly, of millions of ages heaped upon millions,
until numbers lose themselves; or rather until we are lost in the vast
calculation. But who can measure eternity? compared with, whose everlasting
lines, myriads of years are infinitely less than atoms floating in the
All men are hastening to eternity. All are standing upon the brink of an
interminable state of being. Yet all, except the little flock of Christ, are
living as if life would never end; and die as if beyond the grave there was
nothing to awaken their solicitous concern. Awful insensibility! How fatally
has sin blinded the mind of those who believe not! Men are willing to
believe that which they wish to be true. They flatter themselves that all
will be well at the last, though they follow the corrupt desires of their
hearts, in direct opposition to the revealed will of God.
Here indeed, in this present world, the wicked, from their animal nature,
have many objects to gratify their sensualistic appetites, even at the very
time when their spirits are enduring the stings and lashes of an upbraiding
conscience. But in eternity, where the body shall no longer be the seat of
carnal desire; in eternity, where all the sensual gratifications shall
forever cease; the soul will experience no change from pain to pleasure, or
from pleasure to pain; but all will be either unmixed pain or unalloyed
pleasure. Surely no thought can be more awakening than this; and yet with
what subtlety does the heart evade its force; with what shocking
indifference is it treated by a world of dying sinners!
"Oh blessed Jesus! compassionate High Priest, awaken my drowsy sense.
Deliver me from the fatal lethargy of unbelief. Captivate all my heart by
the sweet constraining influence of redeeming love. You who are the Sun of
Righteousness, dispel the mist of error; dissipate every darkening cloud
which would intercept your cheering beam; and let all your brightness burst
upon my ravished sight. Reveal yourself as my Savior; let all your goodness
pass before me; say to my trembling heart—"I am your salvation"—then shall I
be able to contemplate eternity, with joyful expectation; knowing, that to
be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."
Moses was well acquainted with the insensibility of the human heart to
eternal things, when he prayed, "So teach us to number our days, that we may
apply our hearts unto wisdom." We are walking every moment on the verge of
eternity! A slight accident can loosen the cords which unite soul and body;
and thus bring us instantly into the world of spirits. Then why should we
calculate upon length of days? Why should we act as if we had years at
command? This moment only is our own. So precious is time, that Infinite
Bounty deals it out by seconds. And yet how prodigal we are of time, as if
it were of all things the easiest to attain, or its loss the easiest to
repair! Dying sinners whose consciences are awakened, and whose eyes are
opened to see their danger, know the incalculable value of time. They feel
every moment to be inconceivably precious, if, in this fleeting remnant of
time, they can find the Savior whom they have basely slighted, and through
his pardoning grace be saved from the wrath to come.
It is at dying beds that we learn something of the value of time. The keen
self-reproaches of the convicted sinner show the folly of wasting days and
hours, which have a value beyond the power of human calculation. The
shortness of life is continually forcing itself upon us by the passing
funeral-bell, the funeral procession, and the weekly voice of the
obituaries. Yet its very commonness, which ought to alarm us, tends only to
lull us into a strange security. This is observable in large towns, where
multitudes are continually summoned into eternity; while in villages, where
deaths are less frequent, a solemn awe is usually excited; at least for a
"Whatever others do, Oh! may I think seriously on my dying hour. Lord, teach
me so to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom. Enlighten my
understanding to perceive what things I ought to do, and give me grace and
power faithfully to fulfill the same."
We are born in sin; therefore, to be happy we must be born again. We have
lived in sin—and to be happy, we must be delivered from its reigning power.
As in this world there is no peace to the wicked, so, in the next, they have
no rest day nor night; for the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and
ever. Oh! that they were wise; that they understood this; that they would
consider their latter end. All that sleep in the dust of the earth
shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting
contempt. Then those who be wise shall shine as the brightness of the
firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever
"Oh! blessed Lord, sit upon my heart as a refiner's fire, and as a purifier
of silver; that the dross of corruption may be purged away, and my soul
prepared for the hour of death, and the never-ending glories of your
My soul, on Pisgah's mount ascend,
Where Moses once admiring stood;
There view the promised land extend
Beyond the swelling Jordan's flood.
By faith survey the landscape over,
Where living waters gently flow;
Until earth usurp your love no more;
Until all your kindling passions glow.
In that blest region of delight,
The saints not sin nor sorrow feel
Eternal day excludes the night,
And all possess the Spirit's seal.
The ransomed soul, in glory clad,
Shines brighter than meridian sun;
The weary pilgrim, now so sad,
There finds his toilsome journey done.
Cheer up, you saints, oppressed with grief
With joy expand your drooping wing;
Jesus affords the kind relief;
Jesus extracts the envenomed sting.
Soon will you reach the blest abode,
Where happy pilgrims ever reign;
Soon shall you see the face of God,
And all the bliss of heaven obtain.