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SERM. character amongst men, and such a testimony of good works XCV. attending him, that, when God thinks fit to call for any
very best of us may wish his case may be ours.
He lived to a good old age, or, as it is elegantly expressed Chap. 5. 26. in the book of Job, He is come to his grave in a full age, like
as a shock of corn cometh in, in his season.
He neither shortened his days by intemperance, nor was he overmuch concerned to live any longer, than while he could be of use in his generation.
He did all the good he could for his country, for his family, for his friends, and for his neighbours. In short, he has been a common benefactor to this poor place, and his loss will be sooner felt than made up.
Would to God I could persuade many of you that hear me, to follow his example. And why should not we all do so?
His education was not above the common rate of his neighbours : but this should convince us of a truth, which too few take notice of, that holiness of life is the only sure way to wisdom and a sound judgment of things. Under this disposition of mind, every thing we read, or hear of, or meet with, will afford matter of useful improvement.
I am sure this was the way this good man took; having subdued his will and affections to the rule of God's commandments, by this means his faculties were enlarged, and his understanding disposed for, and stocked with, abundance of useful knowledge, such as would surprise and edify those who knew him intimately.
Let us now leave him and his good works, which shall either accompany or follow him, in the hands of his Creator,
to receive that blessing which His well-beloved Son shall (Matt. 25. pronounce to all that love and fear Him, saying, “ Come ye
blessed children of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for
you from the beginning of the world.” And let us in the mean time return to ourselves and to our text. And from what has been said, let us at least make this just inference: that it is not our believing or not believe ing these important truths we have been speaking of, that will make these truths of more or less concern to us. If God has determined to deal with us, when we die, according to the works done in the body, which works will follow us
whether we will or not; if He has prepared a place of happiness for the righteous, and a place of torments for the careless and the wicked; then these things are true, and will come to pass, whether we believe, whether we think of them or not.
It is true, we may find out a thousand ways to divert our minds from thinking of these things; we may put the evil day far from us, notwithstanding the many objects of mortality which we see and hear of: but then this is not what wise people should do; it is to do that very thing which foolish, unthoughtful people have been used to speak; it is to take a leap into the dark, without considering, that such as do so will most certainly light in the lake that burneth with fire (Rev. 21. and brimstone.
From which place and fate, the God of mercy deliver us, and from that unthoughtfulness and that wickedness, which infallibly lead to it.
Let us remember, that nothing that is impossible, or that is unreasonable, is expected from, or required of us, in order to obtain that blessedness here spoken of.
We approve of and we praise those virtues in others, which qualify them for heaven; and why should we not imitate them ?
In short, imitate them we must, or we shall never attain that happiness they enjoy, and we hope for; nor escape that punishment which they are freed from, and which we dare not think of without the utmost dread and terror.
To conclude: those who can despise the happiness of heaven, and the torments of hell, are proof against all other arguments which can be made use of for their conversion.
Preserve us, O God, from that strange madness of being only concerned for this life, without providing for an everlasting well-being; that making good use of the time which Thou vouchsafest us here, when we come to die, we may be received into Thine everlasting kingdom, with all those that have died in the true faith and fear of God. Grant this, O merciful God, for Jesus Christ's sake. To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
PREACHED AT THE FUNERAL OF OLD MRS. MURRAY.
THE HAPPINESS OF THOSE WHO DIE IN THE FAITH AND
FAVOUR OF GOD.
Rev. xiv. 13.
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.
It was with great reason, that our Church (directed by the Spirit of God) made these words a part of her office for the burial of the dead.
Either relation, or friendship, or decency, or custom, some consideration or other, brings always a number of people together upon these occasions.
And the very occasion itself is apt to make most people more serious and thoughtful than ordinary.
And the whole office is designed, and is most proper, to improve our seriousness to the best purposes, particularly these words I have made choice of for your present meditations; not, I hope, without very good reasons.
For, in the first place, every body who knew the person whose remains now lie before us will, I am persuaded, conclude, that I have not made an improper choice of a subject for this occasion.
If an unblemished character, if a good life, (the best proof of a sincere faith,) if a most commendable industry, which yet never hindered her from attending the public worship, if a peaceable and inoffensive conduct, which appeared in her
having scarce an enemy in the world, if a most tender care
But the Church had a further design in the choice of this
She would have, therefore, all her members admonished by this so often repeated portion of Scripture, so to lead their lives, as that their friends may have comfort in their death.
And she would have their friends, as St. Paul exhorts us, not to be overmuch concerned, “not to sorrow as men with- 1 Thess. 4. out hope, for them that sleep in Christ;" since we have the word of God for it, that such as are dead in the Lord are blessed and happy.
Besides all this, I had in my thoughts a too general delusion of Christians, who are but too apt to hope well for themselves, very often without reason and without Scripture: who hope, who expect, to die in the Lord, in the favour of God, and to be happy when they are dead, without considering what sort of works are like to follow them: as if those awakening words of the God of truth did no way concern
“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which Matt. 7. 14. leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Upon the whole, I did conclude, that certainly here is a good occasion offered us, of considering how this evil may be prevented; how the bitter thoughts of death may be sweetened; how we may be gainers (if it is not plainly our own fault) by that change which we so industriously avoid ; and
SER M. lastly, how our departure hence may be matter of comfort,
instead of sorrow, to those we leave behind us.
All which I shall endeavour to shew from the words just now read to you; which are introduced after a very remarkable manner: I HEARD A VOICE FROM HEAVEN, SAYING, WRITE, (write this that follows, as most worthy to be transmitted to all future generations,) THAT BLESSED ARE THE DEAD WHICH DIE IN THE LORD; that is, in the Christian faith, in Christian communion, and in Christian charity, accompanied with good works and an holy life ; such are certainly BLESSED; THEY REST FROM THEIR LABOURS; they are freed from all the burdens, temptations, and troubles, of this mortal life, from outward calamities, and inward sorrows; AND THEIR WORKS DO FOLLOW THEM, as witnesses and proofs of the good use they have made of the talents, the life, the health, and all other means of glorifying God, and doing good in their generation, which God has vouchsafed them.
I will not take up your time in proving the very different portions of good and bad men in the state after death; the certainty of which, the happiness of the one, and the misery of the other, being as unquestionable, as that there is a God, and as that this Word of His [the Bible] is true.
Both good and bad men acknowledge this. The good hope and pray for a place in the paradise of God; and the wicked confess this, and will be judged out of their own mouths, when they curse their enemies to the pit of hell, as supposing it to be a place of misery and torment.
It will be of more use to consider who may, and who must not, hope to be happy when they die; who are sure to be miserable after this life, and who they are who are sure to escape the bitter pains of eternal death. Some certainty in this is surely the most desirable thing in this world. It is not I who must pretend to give you this certainty and satisfaction;
but God, and His Word, you may depend on.
DONE GOOD, SHALL GO INTO LIFE EVERLASTING; AND THEY
INTO EVERLASTING FIRE.