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went so cheerfully to the stake, when they so joyfully thanked the executioners for freeing them from the pains of earth, do you think that it was then a matter of uncertainty to them whether they would be borne by death to the embraces of Jesus, or to the society of the damned ? No, they were confident of their title to the eternal inheritance: and what have you been doing, that you have not acquired this confidence? Wake from your slumbers, drowsy Christians, and labour with diligence, till you have obtained a comfortable hope of your title to eternal glory!
Do you object again, • I am not willing to depart and be with Christ, because I wish yet to remain some time longer in the earth, to serve and glorify God?' But what, my brother, do you suppose that you cease to serve and glorify God, when you depart from earth? Think you that the disembodied spirits of the Abrahams, the Davids, the Pauls, and all the other holy men now with God, when they left this little speck of earth to enter the more extensive regions beyond the skies, lost either inclination or opportunity of serving God: think you that their service is fainter, or less important, or less constant than that which you pay ? Think you that this assembly of the first-born glorify the Being of beings less than you do, that their celebration of the divine perfections is less loud, and their admiration of the glories of Jehovah less elevated ? What then do
you mean, when you say that you are unwilling to die, because you wish to serve and glorify God? Are you afraid that if you go from earth you will serve him too purely, or glorify him too much? Take care that your heart does not deceive you, while you suppose that this is the motive which animates you. Take care lest a love of the world is cloaking itself in this specious garb. Pant for the presence of Christ : this sentiment is not in the smallest degree inconsistent with a wish to serve and glorify him, and with a perfect willingness to exercise our duty and love towards him, in whatever part of his dominions he shall please to appoint.
Do you say, finally, • I am not willing yet to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord, because I have friends, relatives, children, to whom I may be of advantage?' But still, is not God the supreme object of our pursuit? And is it right for us to put the dearest earthly connexions in competition with him ? And has not the Saviour declared, 6 He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me?” (Matt. x. 37.) And do you not fall under this denunciation, if you prefer their society and intercourse before the vision of the Lamb ?
Do you object, finally, that such a desire is unnatural ? But have you considered what is the nature of man before you urged this objection? Remember that we are compounded beings; and that an inclination is not, therefore, unnatural, because, while it accords with the tendencies of our superior part, it is opposed to those of our inferior part. Sensitive nature shrinks from death: but rational nature, especially when the soul is renewed, longs for that period when it shall be delivered from corruption. And by what law of nature is it that the superior part is bound thus to submit to the inferior part?
My brethren, this discourse leads to reflections that are full of solemnity. If such be the Christian
temper, how few real followers of the Saviour are to be found in our assemblies! Where are the men who are disentangled from earth? Who are longing for the presence and enjoyment of the Lord ? On whichever side I cast my eyes, I behold those whose thoughts, affections, and desires, are centered on the world; who had rather be in the body than be with the Lord ; and who prefer this temporal life to the holy life to be enjoyed with him. Unhappy men! do you not tremble when you see how distinct
character from that of all the people of God ? how different your temper from that of those who have a portion beyond the grave? Unhappy men! whose felicity consists in an abode in the body; an abode which they know can continue but a little time : for who could ever, by their love of this bodily life, cause it to be perpetuated ? or, by their dread of mortality, make themselves immortal? Others, in every age, like you, have loved the body and the world, but death has levelled them with the dust, and dragged them, reluctant and shuddering, from earth!
Unhappy men! who have all your felicity bound up in what you cannot retain! who are in a continual dread of what you cannot avoid ! who are engaged in a contest with necessity, in which you must be vanquished; and are perpetually recoiling from a determination that admits of no repeal! and who at last, instead of freely resigning your souls, must have them reluctantly drawn from your bodies ! Unhappy men! to whom the presence of the Lord, the highest hope and joy of all the pious, is the supreme object of dread, and who have no better fortress to hide yourselves from His presence
this body of clay! Ah! how easily can he beat it down, and leave you naked and defenceless!
Fly, I beseech you, from this perilous state ! Make it
your instant business to acquire that solid and fervent piety which alone can reconcile you to the grave, and make separation from your body the matter of a rational choice: then you cannot but be happy. Not fearing death, you need fear nothing. You will then have one sure hope, of the accomplishment of which, all the art and malignity of your enemies cannot disappoint you. Let it then be the study of us all to acquire such a temper, that life may be the matter of patience and resignation; and death, of desire and joy,
HEAVEN A STATE OF PERFECTION IN KNOWLEDGE.
1 CORINTHIANS xiii. 12.
For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face : now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Oh! how cheering and animating is it to the Christian to look above this world of ignorance, of sin, and of sorrow, to that kingdom of light, of holiness, and of joy, in which he hopes to dwell for ever. There he will find the perfection of the intellectual, the moral, and the social life. It is to the first of these that our thoughts are directed by the text. Come then, and let us meditate on that immortal state where our intellectual powers will appear worthy their high original, and the most pure and exalted happiness flow from the discovery and contemplation of the sublimest truths.
In the preceding verse the apostle declares that our highest attainments in knowledge in this world, when compared with the light of the world to come, are only as the trifling and incorrect conceptions of childhood to the mature powers of the man whose