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made to perish with time, and formed in some greater hour, to know him, who inhabiteth Eternity."
3. The thought suggested in the close of this quotation leads us to observe, in the third place, that is a privilege to know that the acquaintance with God which we are permitted to have in this world, shall continue without end.
Beings destined to exist only a few days or years, are so insig nificant in themselves, and so unimportant in their own view, if they are sensible their insignificance, that it is comparatively of little moment, how they spend the days of their short-lived existence. “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."
On the contrary, to know that we have immortal souls, that we are destined for a never ending existence, that when ages and worlds shall have rolled away, we shall exist, under the govern ment of the same unchangeable God, whom we are here permit ted to see and know, enjoying his smiles, or suffering under his eternal frown, what an importance, an awful importance does it give to us! What a solemnity does the thought shed over our minds! How dreadful is this place; not only the house of God but the gate of heaven, the vestibule of Eternity--the cradle of immortal souls, the residence of creatures which shall never cease to be. In view of our eternal destiny, who would not
"Walk thoughtful on the silent solemn shore,
4. The thought of our immortality suggests the fourth, and important circumstance, which gives solemnity to this world, viz. That it is a state of probation to these immortal souls. We are placed here to choose a part, and form a character, which shall fix our condition through our eternal existence. Every ac tion here goes to form a habit,-every deed shall be brought into judgment at the great day of account, every movement of immortal beings is followed by everlasting consequences. If we could, during every period of our future existence, have the same power and privilege we now have to alter our condition and destiny, by repentance and turning to the Lord, the present moments, though important, would sink into comparative insignificance. But the fact that this is our only state of probation, that after it our condition will be fixed, unalterably fixed forever, so that he that is holy will be holy still, and he that is filthy shall be filthy still, this is what renders the present a solemn, dreadful place. While we are forming our resolutions to repent to-morrow, we may be sent into eternity to-day, with all our sins upon our heads; "For yourselves know, perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh, as a thief in the night."
Finally; this is a solemn world, because it is a world of sin. Those who have offended a holy and present God, who have bro
ken his law, abused his grace, and rejected his Son, and who are treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, occupy a dreadful place, and may well be afraid, when they are made sensible of his presence. All the other circumstances, which concur to render this a solemn world to us, derive additional weight and im portance, from the fact that we are sinners, especially if we are impenitent sinners.
Let us see how this fact adds a dreadful importance to each of the considerations already suggested.
1. It is solemn to stand in the presence of the holy and Almighty God. It is so, even to holy beings. Angels veil their faces, as they surround his throne, and cry 'holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty'. If those who are themselves pure and holy, the objects of God's love and favor, are filled with awful dread, when made sensible of his immediate presence, how must those feel who are impure and unholy, when they are made to realize the presence of their offended Maker.
2. The second circumstance mentioned, showing the dreadful' station we hold in this world is, that we are here, not only acquainted with God, but under his moral government. But if being under the law of God be solemn, how much more solemn to be under the curse of that law, and exposed to its penalty, and to be accountable to a Being whom we have offended, 'who is angry with the wicked every day?'
3. The third and fourth facts mentioned in this discourse, to show how solemn is the world in which we live, were that we have immortal souls, and are in a state of probation for eternity. How unspeakably dreadful must these facts appear to those, who have hitherto abused their day of grace, and who, if they should die in their present state, would be immortal in misery.
In short, to have the power to discover God in his works, and to become more intimately acquainted with him in his Word, to be able to learn his will, and to read his written law-by which also we must be judged--to know that we are immortal, and that eternal happiness or misery depends on the part we choose and the characters we form during the few years we continue here, gives a solemn importance to our condition; but this solemnity becomes dreadful in the view of a holy God whom we have of fended, in view of a state of probation abused, of the grace of God rejected.
"O may these thoughts possess my breast
With such thoughts, therefore, let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober. "For they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunk, be drunk in the night-but let us who are of the day, be sober." The light of Eternity,
which shines around us is a solemn light. The house of God, in which we assemble, is a solemn place.
"Let not our weaker passions dare
And although we know that God is equally present in every place, at all times, yet such finite, limited faculties as ours, strive to give place to everything, and naturally conceive of God, as more especially present in those places where he has been peculiarly manifested to our souls.
In a similar manner we should hold those places sacred where God has appeared to us, that they may become means of recalling the goodness of God, and renewing the solemn impressions and holy resolutions which they once witnessed.
4. In this view of the subject, a house of prayer and public worship is peculiarly the house of God. There we assemble to meet our God, and to hold communion with him. There we meet, to hear his Word, to make known our requests, to call upon the Lord, to praise his name, and to realize, as in his more immediate presence, all those circumstances connected with our knowledge of him and of his holy law, which have been mentioned in this discourse, as giving solemnity to our present existence. And here it may be added, his children while engaged in the services of the sanctuary do often receive peculiar and refreshing views of his presence and glory. The place, therefore, should be sacred in our minds. We should, if possible, suffer nothing of a worldly nature to be associated with the house of prayer,--the house of God. "Surely God is in this place, though we may know it not." He is here-speaking to us, by his word,--He is here, by his Holy Spirit, in the hearts of his children and perhaps of sinners, producing convictions of sin in some, and giving comfort and consolation, joy and peace in believing, to others. This is the house of God; for many with an awe and rapture, seemingly not less than that of the Patriarch, have seen him here, and have felt his power while they have listened to his promises. His goings have been seen in his sanctuary. It is the house of God and the Gate of Heaven, where many precious souls have received those impressions and hopes which conduct to Heaven.
Let all the solemnity, then, which accompanies the view of a present God, of his holy law, and of Eternity, here settle on our souls. If nowhere else, let us at least, be thoughtful and solemn in the house of God. Let the vision of spiritual things alone occupy our minds. O let us realize and feel that it is none other but the house of God. May it prove to all of us the Gate of Heaven.