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SERM. such a scandal I gave to the Church of God. I would repair XCIV.
such and such injuries; I would never neglect the occasions of serving God.'
Why now, Christians, God spares you, and me, and every one who enjoys life, for these very purposes : to repent of what we have done amiss; to lead a new life, as a proof of the sincerity of our repentance; and to make our peace with Him before we go hence and be no more seen.
Thus I have laid before you some of the thoughts of those who have never thought of death till they are upon their sick bed; till the number, the weight, the wilfulness of their sins, awaken them into fears which no mortal man can describe.
And it is this horror and anguish of dying sinners, which one would endeavour to prevent by all the arguments that are likely to awaken men; that we may all without delay, who have not already done it, set about that work, which we shall otherwise sadly wish we had done, when perhaps it may be too late to do any thing but to bewail our folly in a miserable eternity.
On the other hand; a Christian, of a sober and thoughtful life, will strip the approach of death of most of its terrors, by such reasonings as these : “ The sentence of death is already passed upon me, I cannot avoid it; I confess with the penitent thief, that I suffer justly the punishment of sin; I do acknowledge the justice of my sentence, and will resign myself to it after a Christian manner. It is now my comfort, that God has had some portion of my time and thoughts ;
and since He has given me time and grace to make use of Judges 13. it, I will comfort myself as Manoah's wife did: “If the Lord
were pleased to kill us, He would not have shewed us all these things.")
So saith the humble, penitent, dying Christian: 'If God has given me an opportunity of renewing my vows, and a will to do it; if He has accepted my alms and my good deeds, by giving me an heart to do such; if He has opened mine ear to discipline, and has chastised me with the chastening of His children; why, then, I have good hopes, that His graces are not in vain, but that He will crown them with pardon, favour, and happiness eternal. I will therefore
with an humble confidence lay hold on the promises of God to sincere penitents: I know (with St. Paul) whom I have be- 2 Tim. 1. lieved, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day. It is true, I am to be stripped by death of all my worldly enjoyments; but I am not without hopes of meeting with much greater. I leave my children behind me; but I comfort myself in this, that I took such care of their education, that I hope to meet them in the paradise of God. All my trials and afflictions are now to end; now they appear as blessings which God made use of to prepare me for this hour. I will therefore endeavour to meet my death as a deliverance from sin, from banishment, and from captivity, and as a passage to a much better world.'
After all, he that hath lived the best life will stand in need of mercy at the hour of death. And even the greatest sinner has not sinned beyond the power of grace, and the efficacy of the blood of Christ, provided he defer not his repentance. In one word; THE STING OF DEATH 18 sin. It is that [1 Cor. 15.
56.] which makes the very thoughts of death a torment to us. Therefore, a Christian life is the only cure for the fear of death, and for that great change it will make in our condition.
And now, good Christians, see what a dreadful folly it is to live as if we had nothing to do in this world ; or, as if we were to live here for ever. You see what a change death will make in our condition. No more to be done ; too late to repent, to wish, to resolve, to promise, to do any thing.
And be assured of it, that it is no matter how a man spends his life, if he is not preparing for death and for eternity.
In the death of others, we see what we ourselves are, and what we must come to. Could we see the world as we shall judge of it when we come to die, there is nothing in it that would tempt us to hazard our souls for.
You have seen a child extremely fond of his playthings, and impatient to part with them. An hour after, he falls sick; you strive to please him with the things he was just now so fond of; he lets them drop out of his hand, and will not so much as look on them.
Why indeed, Christians, this will be the case of every one of us, when we come to die; we shall despise, we shall loath, we shall hate, the very things which now keep us from preparing for our latter end.
When we see others go before us, we are apt to bless ourselves, that it is not our lot, and that we are yet alive. But, for God's sake, where is the comfort, if we make no good use of the time which God still continues to us?
And let me take good notice of it ; that though the death of others does not much affect me now, yet it must come to be my own case; and when it does do so, it will be of the greatest moment to me, whether I am to be happy or miserable for ever.
It is our great comfort, that our time is in God's hands that nothing can deprive us of life without His leave. So that we may be sure, if we are in the way of salvation, when He calls for us, it will be well with us, though we have not done all that we could wish we had done.
This, I say, is our comfort. But then let us not delay one moment to put ourselves into the way of life, lest death should overtake us unawares.
Let us ever remember, that we shall rise out of the grave just as we go into it, either favourites or enemies of God to all eternity.
In one word ; let us be persuaded to live like Christians, and then we may every one of us say with St. Paul, TO ME
(Phil. 1. 21.]
TO DIE IS GAIN.
And, O God! grant, that what has now been said may contribute something to that blessed end; and that I myself, and all who have heard me, may remember, that our sentence of death is already passed; that therefore we may make the remainder of our lives a worthy preparation for death.
Deliver every soul of us from the blindness of trusting to a death-bed repentance; and fix this truth in all our hearts, that if we live without care, we shall die without comfort.
Now, to God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
PREACHED AT THE FUNERAL OF MR. EVAN CHRISTIAN.
THE HAPPINESS OF THOSE WHO DIE IN THE FAITH AND
FAVOUR OF GOD.
Rev. xiv. 13.
I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are
the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ; and their works do follow them.
I have made choice of this part of the office for the burial of the dead, for our present meditations, not without very good reasons, and which you will easily apprehend without much insisting upon them.
For instance : you will conclude, that when I chose these words, I did believe them very suitable, and applicable in an especial manner, to the person who now lies dead before us; and indeed so I did-otherwise I should have abused a sacred text of Scripture to ends very unworthy of a minister of God.
But besides this, I had in my thoughts the present times of sickness and mortality, in which it has pleased God to visit very many families.
I considered how natural it was for people to be concerned for themselves, when so many about them are taken away, and even some upon very short warning.
I concluded with myself, that if ever sober reason would take place with people, it would surely be received when they were under apprehensions of danger; for so saith the prophet of God: “When Thy judgments are in the world, (Is. 26. 9.]
SERM. the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness.” Then,
or never, they will be serious and thoughtful.
I was sure, that the danger of dying under the displeasure of God was more to be dreaded than any calamity that could possibly befall a mortal man. I knew very well, that this consideration, and this only, makes death truly terrible; makes the loss of our friends more sensible and afflicting, and our own lives no better than a burden to us.
Upon the whole, I did conclude, that certainly here is a just occasion offered us, of considering how all these evils may be prevented; how the bitter thoughts of death may be sweetened, and become acceptable ; how we shall be gainers, if it is not our own fault, by that change which we so industriously avoid ; and lastly, how our departure hence may be matter of comfort, instead of sorrow, to those we leave be
And which I shall endeavour to shew, from the words just read to you, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; that is, happy are they who die in the faith and favour of God.
They are happy upon many accounts, but chiefly upon these two; in that now they rest from their labours, they are set free from all the burdens of a mortal life; they are no longer subject to temptations, or the danger of being overcome by them; they are freed from diseases, and the uneasiness that attends them; grief, and cares, and sorrows, and
persecution, are all at an end; or, as Job very elegantly sets Chap. 3. 17, forth the condition and state of the dead : “ There the wicked
cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the
But all faithful Christians are much more happy upon another account. They are not only freed from outward calamities, and inward sorrows, but they are put into a condition of present happiness. Their works do follow them, or (as perhaps it should be rendered) do accompany them as witnesses, or proofs, of their having been faithful stewards of the talents committed to their charge.
I need not spend time in proving this : that good men, after death, are at rest, and in a happy condition. The Spirit of God has expressly said it; and Christians are so generally