Sermon 352. A Merry Christmas
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, DECEMBER 23, 1860, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON, AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.
"And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat andto drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, androse up early in the morning, and offered burntofferings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in theirhearts. Thus did Job continually. Job 1:4,5.
JOB was an exceedingly happy man before his great trial. He was as much blessed in the fruit of his body as in his basket,and in his store. Our text gives us a very pleasing picture of Job's family. He was a happy man to have had so many childrenall comfortably settled in life; for you willperceive that they all had houses; they had left his roof; they had all established themselves, and had so prospered inthe world that there was not one of them who had not enough of the world's goods to entertain all the rest. So it seemed asif Job's prosperity in his business hadattended his children in the different places where they had settled. To add to his comfort they were an undivided family-notlike Abraham's household, where there was an Ishmael who mocked Isaac; nor like Isaac's household, where there was an Esauand a Jacob who sought tosupplant him; nor like Jacob's household, where there was a Joseph, and all the rest of his brothers were envious and jealousof him; nor like David's household, where there was perpetual strife and bickering between the one and the other. Job's descendantswere a large tribe; butthey were all united and knit together in bonds of perfect happiness; and moreover they seem to have had a great desireto preserve their unity as a family. Perhaps Job and his family were the only ones who feared God in the neighborhood; theywished therefore to keep themselvestogether as a little flock of sheep in the midst of wolves, as a cluster of stars in the midst of the thick darkness; andwhat a brilliant constellation they were-all of them shining forth and proclaiming the Truth of God! I say it was their desirenot only to enjoy pleasantnessand peace, but to maintain it; for I think that these annual meetings at the different houses were intended to knit themtogether so that if any little strife had arisen, as soon as they met at the next brother's house, all might be settled, andthe whole host might go on again,shoulder to shoulder, and foot to foot-as one phalanx of soldiers for God. I think Job must have been a right happy man.I do not know that he always went to their feasts; perhaps the soberness of age might have a little disqualified him for joiningin their youthful enjoyments;but I am sure he commended their feasting; I am quite certain he did not condemn it. If he had condemned it, he would neverhave offered sacrifice to God, lest they should have sinned, but he would have told them at once it was a sinful thing, andthat he could give no countenanceto it. I think I see the happy group, so happy and holy that surely if David had been there, he would have said, "Beholdhow good and pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
Job was a godly man and so godly that unlike Eli, he brought up his household in the fear of God, and he was not only quickto observe any known sin, but was exceedingly jealous over his children lest secretly and inadvertently in their hearts-whilethey were at their loaded tables-they mighthave said or thought anything which might be termed blaspheming God! He therefore, as soon as the feasting was over, calledthem all together and then as a preacher, told them of the danger to which they were exposed, and as a priest, (for everyPatriarch before the Law, was apriest), he offered burnt sacrifices lest any sin should by any possibility remain upon his sons and daughters. So saysthe text. I pray that now we may have Divine Grace to listen to it; and may what we shall now hear abide with us during thecoming week, when some of you shallmeet together in your own houses! May God grant that our parents, or we, if we are parents, may be as Jobs, and when thefeasting is over, may there come the sacrifice and the prayer, lest we should have sinned and blasphemed God in our hearts!
I shall divide my sermon thus. First, the text, and that is festive, so we will ring in a merry bell Secondly, that whichis in the text, and that is instructive, so we will ring the sermon bell And, thirdly, that which follows the text, and thatis afflictive, so we will ring the funeral bell.
I. First, then, the text itself, and that is festive-let us therefore, RING THE MERRY BELL. I think I hear distinctly threenotes in its merry peal. First, the text gives a license; secondly, it suggests a caution; and thirdly, it provides a remedy.
1. First, the text gives a license. Now, you souls who would deny to your fellow men all sorts of mirth, come and listen tothe merry bell of this text while it gives a license especially to the righteous-a license that they meet together in theirhouses, and eat and drink and praise their God.In Cromwell's days, the Puritans thought it an ungodly thing for men to keep Christmas. They, therefore, tried to put itdown, and the common crier went through the street announcing that Christmas was henceforth no more to be kept, it being aPopish, if not a heathen ceremony! Now,you do not suppose that after the crier had made the proclamation, any living Englishman took any notice of it! At leastI can scarcely imagine that any did, except to laugh at it; for it is idle thus to strain at gnats and stagger under a feather!Albeit that we do not keep thefeast as Papists-nor even as a commemorative festival-yet there is a something in old associations that makes us like theday in which a man may shake off the cares of business, and disport himself with his little ones. God forbid I should be sucha Puritan as to proclaim theannihilation of any day of rest which falls to the lot of the laboring man! I wish there were a half-a-dozen holidays inthe year. I wish there were more opportunities for the poor to rest. Though I would not have as many saint's days as thereare in Roman Catholic countries-yetif we had but one or two more days in which the poor man's household, and the rich man's family might meet together-it mightperhaps be better for us. However, I am quite certain that all the preaching in the world will not put Christmas down-youwillmeet next Tuesday, and youwill feast, and you will rejoice, and each of you, as God has given you substance, will endeavor to make your householdglad!
Now, instead of telling you that this is all wrong, I think the merry bell of my text gives you a license to do so. Let usthink a minute. Feasting is not a wrong thing, or otherwise Job would have forbidden it to his children; he would have talkedto them seriously, and admonished them that thiswas an ungodly and wicked custom to meet together in their houses. But, instead of this, Job only faredlest a wrong thingshould be made out of a right thing, and offered sacrifices to remove their iniquity; but he did by no means condemn it. Wouldany of you ask a blessing uponyour children's attendance at the theater? Could you say, when they had been in such a place, "It may be they have sinned?"No, you would only talk thus of a right thing. I think I can prove to you that this was a good thing, for first you will noticethey met in good houses; theydid not go to an ale house to feast; they had no need to enter the tavern; but they met in their own houses-houses whereprayer and praise were made. How much better for the working man to spend his money on his family than upon liquor sellers!And then it was in good company.They did not scrape together all the ruffians of the place to feast with them; but they kept to their own kith and kin;and feasting is good when good men feast-especially when they spare for the poor-as no doubt Job's children did, or else theywere quite unworthy of theirgenerous ancestor. They feasted in good houses, and in good company. And they observed during their feasting, good behavior.Job never heard of a wrong expression they had used; no one ever told him that they had become riotous, or that they had utteredone wrong word, or else Jobcould not have said, "It may be," but he would have said, "It is so." He must be a good son of whom a father could say,"It may be he has erred." All that he had was a fear lest secretly they might have done wrong; but it appears that openlytheir feasting had been such that eventhe busy tongue of scandal could not find fault with them! And besides, their feasting was a good thing, because it hada good intent; it was for amity, for cheerfulness, and family union. It was that they might be bound together as a bundleof rods-strong and unbroken-that theymight be as a strongly intertwined cord, interwoven by these their family greetings and meetings.
Now, I say that if in their case the thing was not wrong-and I think I have proved in four respects that it was right-it wasin good houses, in good company, with good behavior, and for a good purpose-the text gives a license for us to do the same,and to meet in our houses, in the company ofour kith and kin, provided we feast after a good sort, and do it with the good intent of knitting our hearts, the one towardsthe other.
But again-good men of old have feasted. Need I remind you of Abraham's making a great feast in his house when his child Isaacwas weaned? Shall I tell you of Sampson and his feasts, or of David, or of Hezekiah, or of Josiah, and of the kings who gaveto every man a loaf of bread, and a good pieceof meat, and a flagon of wine, and they cheered their hearts and made merry before God?
But let me remind you that feasting, so far from being evil, was even an essential part of Divine Worship under the old Law.Do you not read of the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of the Passover, the Feast of the New Moons,and how many other feasts besides? Come they notover again and again? Now if the thing were wrong in itself, God would certainly never employ it as an emblem and tokenof the Divine, the pure, and the heavenly Doctrines of His Grace. It is impossible that God should have taken a wrong thingto be the type of a right thing! Hemight take a common good and make it the type of a special favor-but not an evil thing-it is far from us to suppose sucha thing of our God!
Besides, did not the Savior Himself countenance a feast, and help to provide the guests with the wherewithal that they mighthave good cheer? Do you think the Savior out of place when He went to the wedding feast? And do you suppose that He went there,and did not eat and drink? Was it not said ofHim, "Behold a drunken Man and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"? Not that He was either drunken, or a winebibber, but that He "came eating and drinking," to dash to pieces the Phariseeism which says that that which goes into a mandefiles a man-whereas Christteaches "not that which goes into a man, but that which comes out of a man, that defiles a man." Jesus Christ, I say, wasat the feast! And suppose you that He bore a sad countenance? Did He sour with the vinegar of a morose behavior, the winewith which He had filled the wateringpots? I think not! I believe at that marriage feast He joined with the guests; and if He were, indeed, "a Man of Sorrowsand acquainted with grief," as He certainly was, yet did He not keep His griefs to Himself, for if He came to suffer, Himself,He came to make others glad, and Idoubt not that at the feast He seemed the most glad of the guests! Most glad because He was really the Master of the feast,and because He saw in the wedding the type of His own marriage-His own Divine espousal with the Church-which is "the bride,the Lamb's wife."
And let me add once more-God has certainly made in this world, provision for man's feasting. He had not given just dry breadenough for a man to eat, and keep body and soul together, for the harvests teem with plenty, and often are the barns filledto bursting. O Lord, You did not give simply drybread and water for mankind, but You have filled the earth with plenty, and milk and honey have You given to us! And Youhave besides this laden the trees with fruit, and given dainties to men. You are not stingy, You do not dole out with miserablehands the lean and scanty charitywhich some men would give to the poor, but You give generously, and You upbraid not! And for what purpose is this given?To rot, to mold, to be trod on, to be spoiled? No, but that men may have more than enough! That they may have all they need,and may rejoice before their God, andmay feed the hungry, for this indeed is one essential and necessary part of all true Christian feasting! My text, I say,rings a merry bell, and gives us license for sacred feasting!
2. But now the same merry bell suggests a caution. Job said-"It may be." They were good sons. Good, godly young men, I amsure, or else Job would not have said, "It may be." But "it may be," he said, "it may be that my sons have sinned, and cursedGod in their hearts." Or, as some translate it,"have blessed God too little in their hearts." They may not have been grateful enough for their prosperity, and for theenjoyments which God had given them. "It may be." Well, listen, Brothers and Sisters, "it may be," too, that you and I maysin, and blaspheme God in our hearts,and be as Job's sons may have been-too little thankful-if, though they were true men and true women, though they all hada Job for their father, and though their feasting was in their own houses, and after a right sort and a commendable sort,yet there was a "maybe" that theremight be sin. Am I too careful when I say, Brothers and Sisters, "it may be"? It may be that in our happiest gathering ofour family together, it may be that we shall sin? I think we could not prefer ourselves before the sons and daughters of Job-thatwere self-righteousness,indeed-we are surely not proud enough to think ourselves better than the sons of that "perfect and upright" man "who fearedGod and eschewed evil." I think I am not too severe and too strict, when I say, "It may be; "it" may be; look to it-take heedto yourselves-be careful,be on your watch tower. Let me give you some reasons and arguments why this caution is not unnecessary.
And first, remember there is no placefree from sin! You may set bounds about this mount, but the beast will touch the mountain.You may endeavor as much as you will to keep out Satan, but wherever there were two met together, Satan was ever the third.There was never a company met, but the Evil Onesomewhere intruded! Does he not come into your business? Do you not find him entering into your very closet? Yes, and thevery Table of the Lord-has not Satan sat there and tempted Judas? Yes, and tempted you, too? How, then, can you hope thatwhen your family are met together,Satan shall not be there? Is it not written, "The sons of God came together and Satan came also among them"? I am sure theynever invited him; but he does not stay away for all that. And you will find it so. Never invite him by anything ungodly orunChristian-like. But since thereare temptations everywhere, however pure and upright your intentions may be, however excellent your company, think you hearmy little bell ringing-"It may be, it may be, it may be;" and it may be a blessed check to you.
Beside this, remember that there is many a special temptation where there is a loaded table. Old Quarles said, "Snares attendmy board;" and certainly they do. More men have perished by fullness of bread than ever died by hunger. Hunger may break throughstone walls, but I have known feasting leapover golden walls-the golden walls of Divine Grace. Some men cut their throats with their teeth, and many a man has swamto Hell down his own throat! More have been drowned in the bowl, 'tis said, than ever were drowned in the sea. I trust I neednot say anything of that to you. Ihope not. If there is a man here who falls into drunkenness-in God's name let him tremble-for there is no admittance forthe drunkard into the Kingdom of Heaven! I am speaking now to Christians-not to men and women who fall into these vices-andI say to them, where you usethe most proper moderation in receiving the things which God gives you, where you even totally abstain from that which mightbe a temptation, yet even thereyour table may be a snare unto you. Therefore, take heed to yourself, Believer, lest Satanlie in ambush beneath the familytable!
Remember, also, that they who sit at the table are but men, and the best of men are but men at the best. Men have so littleGrace, that if they are not on the watchtower, they may soon be overtaken, and they may say or do that which they will haveto repent of afterwards. I have heard say thatthere are men who swallow mouthfuls of earth which they will have to digest in Hell, and I do not doubt it. There have beentimes when a happy company have gathered together and the conversation has become trifling, then full of levity; perhaps ithas gone so far that afterwards,when they retired to their homes, they would have recalled their words, if it had been possible. Let this caution, then,sound in all our ears, "It may be-it may be-it may be!" And let us so act that if Christ were at the feast, we should notbe ashamed to see Him. Let us sospeak that if Christ sat at our table, we should not count it a hindrance to our joy-but rather that we should be the morefree, joyous and glad-because of such thrice-blessed Company! Oh, tell me not that Christianity curbs our joy! My Brothersand Sisters, it shuts up one ofits channels-that black and filthy kennel into which the sinner's joy must run; but it opens another channel, wider, broader,deeper, purer, and fills it to the very banks with joy, more lustrous and more full of glory! Think not that we who followChrist, and seek to walkstrictly in our integrity, are miserable! We tell you that our eyes sparkle as much as yours, and that we have not the rednessof the eyes in the morning. We can say to the worldling that our heart, despite its sometimes heaviness, does rejoice in theLord, and we have peace whichis like a river, and a righteousness which is like the waves of the sea! O Christian Brothers and Sisters! Let not the worldthink of you that you are shut out here from anything like happiness; but so act and so live at all times, that you may teachmen that it is possible to behappy without sin, and to be holy without being morose! This, then, is the caution which our merry bell rings out to us.
But, then, in the third place, having given a license and suggested a caution, the merry bell provides a remedy. "It may be"-itmay be we have done wrong. What then? Here is a remedy to be used by parents, and heads of families, and by ourselves.
Job sent for his sons as a father; he sanctified them as a preacher; he sacrificed for them as a priest; by all which I understand,he first bade them come together, and then he sanctified them-that is, he first spoke to them-commended them for the excellentand admirable manner in which theyhad met together; told them how pleased he was to see their love, their union. But then he said, "It may be, my sons, youare like your father-there is some sin in you, and it may be you have sinned. Come, let us repent together." And so, being,as I believe, all godly persons,they sat down and thought over their ways. Then no doubt the good old man bade them kneel down while he prayed with them.And then he expressed his faith in the great coming Mediator and so, though one man's faith cannot prevail for another, yetthe faith of the father helped toquicken the faith of the sons! The prayer of the father was the means of drawing forth the prayer of the sons, and so thefamily was sanctified. Then after that, he would say, "There is no putting away of sin, except by the shedding of blood. Sothey fetched the bullocks, a bullockfor every son, and for every daughter; the old Patriarch slew the victims, and laid them on the altar, and as the smokeascended-they all thought, if they had sinned against God, yet by His Grace, the bloodshed, and the victim offered could,as the type of Christ, take away theirsin. I think I see the good old man after the sacrifice was all complete-"Now, my children," he says, "return to your homes.If you have sinned, your sin is put away; if you have transgressed, the Atonement made has cancelled your transgression; youmay go to your habitations, andtake a father's blessing with you."
Call to your recollection that Job is said to have seen to his sacred work "early in the morning." It is evil lying in bedwhen we have sin on our conscience. He that has a sin unforgiven should never travel slowly to the Cross but run to it! SoJob would sleep in the morning not an hour till hehad seen his sons and his daughters sanctified, and the sacrifice made. Mark well, that "he offered according to the numberof his sons." He did not leave out one! If he prayed for the eldest, he prayed for the youngest, too-and if he made supplicationfor the sons, he did notforget the daughters! Ah, parents, never forget any of your children-carry them allbefore God-let them all be consecratedto Him, and let your earnest prayers go up for them all-from your Reuben down to your Benjamin. Leave not one of them out,but pray God to grant that theymay all be bound up together in the bundle of life.
And notice once again, "So did Job continually." As often as they visited, so often was there the sacrifice. I suppose theyhad 10 feasts in the year; and it is supposed by the old commentators that they assembled on their birthdays. They were notalways feasting-that were sinful. In fact, thatwas the sin of the old world, for which God drowned it. "They ate and they drank, they married and they were given in marriage,"all which things are right enough in themselves. But if we are wholly immersed in them, always eating, always drinking, alwaysfeasting, then they becomesins and, indeed, at all times they become sin, unless, like Job's feasts, they are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.If our meetings are thus sanctified, we can in everything give thanks. Then "he that eats, eats to the Lord, and gives Godthanks." And being accepted in ourthankfulness, the eating is to God's Glory! I say, then, my dear Friends, that Job did this continually which teaches tothe parent his duty of continually pleading for his sons and daughters.
The aim of my remarks is just this-you will, most of you, meet together next Tuesday and keep the household feast. I beg youto imitate Job on Wednesday morning and make it your special and peculiar business to call your children together, and sanctifythem by prayer, and by pleading the preciousSacrifice of Christ Jesus. So "it may be" there has been sin; but there will be no "may be" as to the putting away of thesin, for pleading with prayer, and laying hold on the sacrifice by faith, you shall stand accepted still-both you and yourhouseholds!
Now, some may think that what I have said upon this point is unnecessary, and that we ought not to speak about such commonthings as these. Do you suppose that the Christian pulpit was set up by God that we might always talk to you about the millennium,or the antediluvians, or the things that areto happen in Ethiopia or Palestine? I believe that the Christian ministry has to do with you in your daily life-and themore the preacher delivers that which is practically suggestive of profit to our souls-the more closely does he keep to theMaster! I am sure if my Lord JesusChrist were here, He would say somewhat in these words to you, "Go your way, and eat your bread with a joyous heart, forGod has accepted you through My blood; but watch and be you as men and women who look for their Lord; still keep your lampstrimmed, and your lights burning, andyour loins girt about. Be steadfast and watch unto prayer, that should I come in the morning, or at cock-crowing, I mayfind you ready for My appearing."
As for you young men and women who will be separated on that day from your own parents-having no family circle in which tojoin-perform this pleasant privilege yourselves. Set apart a season the next morning in which by prayer and supplication youshall make confession of sin; and whenever thefeast time comes round-whenever you are invited to a social meeting, or the like-look upon it as a necessary successor ofthe social gathering-that there is private supplication, private confession of sin, and a personal laying hold anew upon thegreat Sacrifice. If this isdone, your meetings, instead of being unprofitable, shall be the beginning of better days to you, and you shall even growin Grace through that prayer, that repentance, and that faith which have been suggested by your gatherings together.
I think all this is most fairly in my text. And if I ought not to preach from such a passage, then the text ought not to bein the Bible.
II. And now let us turn to the second head, or what is in the text, and that is instructive; we must, therefore, ring theSERMON BELL.
Well, it will be a short sermon. My sermon shall not be like the bell and preacher of St. Anthony's Church which were saidto be both alike-the bell was pulled a long while, and was exceedingly dreary in its tone, and the preacher was preciselythe same. The sermon which is fairly in my text isthis-if Job found it right with a holy jealousy to suspect lest his sons might have sinned, how much more do you think hesuspected himself? Depend on it-he who was so anxious to keep his children clean, was himself more anxious that he might alwaysfear his God and eschew evil!God said Job was a perfect and an upright man; and yet he was jealous! How much more, then, shall you and I be jealous ofourselves? Say not in your heart, Christian, "I may go here and there, and may not sin." You are never out of danger of sinning!This is a world of mire; it willbe hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch; you will need to watch often, if inhandling it, you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber in every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; thereis a thief behind every bush-thereis a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy. There is not a stone on which you tread under which thereis not a viper's nest; and if you shall ever reach Heaven, it will be a miracle of Divine Grace! If you shall ever come safelyhome to your Father's house, itwill be because your Father's power brought you there! If Job's sons were in danger at their own tables, how much more aresome of you in danger, Christians, when you have to go among the ungodly? It may be that some of you are called to do businesswhere you hear oaths andblasphemy; your way of life is such that you cannot help being exposed to many temptations. Be on your guard! It was saidof a certain great man, that he was so afraid of losing his life. that he always wore armor under his clothes. Take care youalways wear armor. When a mancarries a bomb in his hand, he should mind that he does not go near a candle. And you, too must take care that you do notgo near temptation. But if you are called to go through the temptation, how watchful, how anxious, how careful, how guardedshould you be! Brothers and Sisters,I do not think that we are, any of us, watchful enough. I have heard of a good woman who would never do anything till shehad sought the Lord in prayer about it. Is that our custom? If we do even a common thing without seeking the Lord's direction,we may have to repent it as longas we live! Even our common actions are sharp tools; we must mind how we handle them.
There is nothing in this world that can foster a Christian's piety, but everything that can destroy it. How anxious shouldwe be, then, to look up-to look up to God-that He may keep us! Let your prayer be, "Hold me up, and I shall be safe." Letyour daily cry be, especially you youngChristians, yes and you old Christians. too, "Lord, keep me! Keep my heart, I pray You, for out of it are the issues ofmy life." Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily, but if called to exposure; if you have to go where the darts are flying,never go abroad without your shield! Forif once the devil catches you abroad, and your shield at home, then he will say, "Now is my time!" And he will send an arrowwhich may rattle between the joints of your harness, and you may fall down wounded, even though you cannot be slain. The Lordgrant, then, that this sermonbell of my text may ring in your ears during the next week; and as long as ever you live, may you hear it saying to you,"Be careful; be watchful; be vigilant; danger may be in an hour when all seems secure to you." Inspect the vessel, see toher keel; look to the sails; look to therudder bands; watch every part of the ship, for the storm may be coming though the calm rule at present, and the rocks maybe ahead though the breakers roll not, and the quicksand may underlie your keel, though you think all is well. God help youthen, Christian, to watch untoprayer! What we say unto you, we say unto all-WATCH!
III. But now what follows the text-and that is afflictive-and here let us ring the FUNERAL BELL.
What follows the text? Why hear this, "Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother'shouse; and behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell uponthe young men and they are dead, and I only amescaped alone to tell you." Between the table and the coffin there is but a step; between the feast and the funeral theremay be but a day; and the very bell that rings the marriage peal tolls the funeral knell! Here is a death's head for you toput on your table. The old Egyptiansset a corpse among the guests-that all might know that they must die. I set the bodies of Job's sons and daughters at yourtable-to make you think that you will die! Our very eating is the grave of God's mercies, and should remind us of our owngraves. What do we do when we eatbut patch the old tenement, put fresh plaster on the dilapidated and naked rafters? So, then, we should remember that thetime will come when we can no more do this, but when the tenement itself shall be shaken and be blown down. Sinner! Let nojoy cross your face till death and youare friends. Saint! Let no joy be in your heart either, till you can say, "Welcome, Death; I gladly go with you." Do nothingthat you would not willingly die doing! Be found in no position in which you would be unwilling to stand forever. Be you todaywhat you would wish to be ineternity; and so live and so act and so sit at the table that if the wind should come and smite the four corners of thehouse, and you should die, yet you fall asleep at one feast, to wake up at another feast where there would be no, "may be,"about sin, but where you should eatbread in the Kingdom of God and drink the new wine of which Jesus Christ spoke when He rose from the supper and left Hisdisciples!
Ah, my spirit rises on wings of delight at the solemn tones of that funeral knell-for it has more music in it, after all-thanmy merry bell! There is a pleasing joy in sorrow, and mirth is akin to sadness. Hearken, Friends, the bell is speaking, "gone,gone, gone, gone." "Who is that for? Whois dead in this parish? "That is poor So-and-So." My God, when it shall be my turn, may my soul behold Your face with joy;O may my spirit, when it receives the last summons, cry with delight, "Blessed be God for that sound! It was the merriestsound my soul could have desired, fornow I sit with Jesus, and eat at His table, and feast with angels! And I am satisfied and have the privilege of John-tolean my head upon my Savior's breast." Christian! I say never let the thought of dying plague you. Let it be a comfort toyou, and stand you so ready that whenthe Master shall say, "Arise!" you will have nothing to do but to rise at His bidding, and march to Heaven-leading yourcaptivity captive! But you, Sinner, when you are sitting at your table, remember my funeral bell tolling in your ears. Andif you should step aside, and the restshould say, "What ails you?"-if you should be compelled to rise while they are laughing, and go upstairs to pray, I shallnot mind. Though some may say I have made you melancholy and have marred your feast-Sinner it is no time for you to be feastingwhile God's sword isfurbished and sharp, and ready to divide soul from body! There is a time to laugh, but it is not till sin is pardoned thatthere is time to dance; it is not till the heart stands with joy before the Ark, that there is time to make merry-it is nottill sin is forgiven. Your time isa time to weep, and a time to tear your garments, and a time to sorrow and a time to repent. May God's Holy Spirit giveyou the Grace! The time is now. And the Grace being given, may you fall before the Cross and find pardon and mercy there,and then we may say, in the words ofSolomon-"Go your way; eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works."