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figuring to himself, or than what is prescribed | ception upon ourselves; the grand conclusion to him by an accommodating casuist, you to be deduced from these reflections is this: If would not see a single Christian afraid of death. we wish to die like Christians, we must live But you know it well, the gospel assures you like Christians. If we would wish to behold of it, and the dictates of your own conscience with firmness the dissolution of this body, we confirm the truth, to make application of the must study the proofs which establish the fruits of Christ's death is a complication of du- truth of the immortality of the soul, so as to ties, which require attention, time, labour, in- be able to say with St. Paul, “I know whom tenseness of exertion, and must be the business I have believed, and I am persuaded he is able of a whole life. The greatest part of those to keep that which I have committed unto who bear the Christian name, neglect this bim against that day," 2 Tim. i. 12. Would work while in health; is it any wonder that we wish to have a security against fear at that they should tremble when overtaken by the tremendous tribunal, before which we must hour of death?
appear to receive judgment, we must enter Call to remembrance the three ways in into the conditions of the covenant of grace, which Christ has disarmed death. He has that we may be able to say with the same spoiled the king of terrors, by demonstrating apostle, “I am the chief of sinners, a blaspheto us the immortality of the soul, by making mer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I atonement for our transgressions, by acquiring obtained mercy,” i Tim. i. 13. Would we be for us an eternal felicity.
strengthened to resign, without murmuring, But what effect will the death of Christ all the objects around us, and to which we are have upon us, as a proof of the doctrine of the so fondly attached, we must learn to disengage immortality of the soul, unless we study those ourselves from them betimes; to place our proofs, unless we seriously meditate upon heart betimes where our treasure is, Matt. vi. them, unless we endeavour to feel their force, 21, that we may be able to say with the unless we guard against the difficulties which Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? the unhappy age we live in opposes to those and there is none upon earth that I desire bogreat principles?
sides thee,” Ps. lxxiii. 25. What effect can the death of Christ have If after we have exerted our utmost efforts, upon us, as a sacrifice offered up to divine jus- we still find our frail flesh and blood comtice for our sins, unless we feel the plenitude plaining at the prospect of approaching dissoof that sacrifice, unless we make application of lution; if the heart still repines at the hard it to the conscience, unless we present it to necessity imposed upon us of dying; let us God in the exercises of a living faith; above strive to recover confidence, not only against all, unless by the constant study of ourselves, this apprehension, but likewise against the unless by unremitting, by persevering exer- doubts which might excite against our saltion, we place ourselves under the terms, and vation. This fear of death is, in such a case, invest ourselves with the characters of those not a crime, but an infirmity. It is indeed a who have a right to apply to themselves the melancholy proof that we are not yet perfect, fruits of this sacrifice
but it is not a blot which obliterates our ChrisWhat effect can the death of Christ produce tianity. It is an expression of timidity, not of upon us, considered as the pledge of a blessed mistrust. It is a calamity which prevents our eternity, unless the soul be powerfully im- enjoying all the sweets of a triumphant death, pressed with that eternity, unless the heart be but not an obstacle to prevent our dying in penetrated with a sense of what it is; if we safety. Let us be of good courage. What are at pains to efface the impression which have we to fear? God is an affectionate friend, those interesting objects may have made upon who will not desert us in the hour of adversity. us; if hardly moved by those great truths God is not a cruel being, who takes pleasure which ought to take entire possession of the in rendering us miserable. He is a God mind, we instantly plunge ourselves into the whose leading characters are goodness and vortex of worldly pursuits, without taking time mercy. He stands engaged to render us hapto avail ourselves of that happy disposition, py. Let us not distrust his promise; it has and, as it were, purposely to withdraw from been ratified by the most august zeal which those gracious emotions which seemed to have suspicion itself could exact, by the blood of the laid hold of us? Ah! my brethren, if such be spotless Lamb, which is sprinkled, not on the the conduct of the generality of professing threshold of our doors, but on our inmost conChristians, as we are under the necessity of science. The exterminating angel will readmitting, when, not satisfied with observing spect that blood, will presume to aim no stroke their deportment in the house of God, and at the soul which bears the mark of it. from a pulpit, we follow them into life, and After all, my dearly beloved brethren, if look through those flimsy veils of piety and the most advanced Christians, at the first devotion which they had assumed for an hour glimpse of death, and in the first moments of a in a worshipping assembly; if such, I say, be mortal distemper, are unable to screen themthe conduct of the generality of professing selves from the fear of death; if the flesh murChristians, their terror at the approach of death murs, if nature complains, if faith itself seems exhibits nothing to excite astonishment. to stagger; reason, religion, but especially the
The grand conclusion to be deduced, my aid of God's spirit, granted to the prayers, to brethren, from all these reflections, is not an the importunities ascending to heaven from abstract conclusion and of difficult comprehen- the lips of such a Christian, dissipate all those sion: it is a conclusion easy, natural, and terrors. The mighty God suffers himself to which would spontaneously present itself to be overcome, when assailed by supplication the mind, were we not disposed to practise de- and tears. God resists not the sighs of a be
liever, who from his bed of languishing stretches bed of death is transformed into a field of vicout his arms towards him, who entreats him to tory. Many of your pastors, Christians, have sanctify the sufferings which he endures, who been the joyful spectators of such a triumph. implores his support in the agonies of death, May all who hear me this day be partakers who cries out from the centre of a soul trans- of these divine consolations! May that inported with holy confidence, “Into thine hand valuable sacrifice which Jesus Christ offered I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, up to his father in our behalf, by cleansing us O Lord God of truth,” Ps. xxxi. 5. Receive from all our guilt, deliver us from all our fears! it, O my God. Remove from me those phan- May this great High Priest of the new covenant toms which disturb my repose. Raise me up, bear engraven on his breast all these mystical take me to thyself. “Teach my hands to war, Israelites, now that he is entered into the and my fingers to fight. Draw me, I shall holiest of all! And when these foundations of run after thee.” Kindle my devotion; and let sand, on which this clav tabernacle rests, shall my inflamed desires serve as a chariot of fire crumble away from under our feet, may we all to transport me to heaven. The clouds, thick- be enabled to raise our departing spirits out of ened around me by “Him who had the power the ruins of the world, that they may repose of death,” are scattering; the veil which cov- in the mansions of immortality! Happy, beyond ered eternity insensibly withdraws; the under expression, beyond conception happy, to die standing is convinced; the heart melts; the in such sentiments as these! God of his inAame of love burns bright; the return of holy finite mercy grant it may be our blessed attainmeditations, which formerly occupied the soul, ment! To him be honour and glory for ever. disclose the grand object of religion, and the Amen,