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SERM. But such providences as these are very proper to instruct XCVII.

and edify others as well as those that are most nearly concerned in her loss.

Here is a person taken away, who wanted no worldly comfort that her heart could wish (if any worldly thing could have satisfied her). Beloved by her husband, by her children, by her friends.

Will any body, who considers this as they should do, set their heart upon so vain, so slippery, so uncertain a world, and its satisfactions ?

But then, observe the power of grace, which, in the midst of all these enjoyments, could make her think of leaving them, as indeed she did, with great resignation, in hopes of a better inheritance.

You see, my brethren, the mighty power of a true Christian faith, and that it enables us to find comfort, and even satisfaction, in the greatest temporal evils; that it renders death itself, the very king of terrors, far from being frightful to such as die in the Lord ; and is so far from depriving those that survive of all comfort, that it fills their souls with joy for the well-grounded hopes it gives them of the happy state their friends are in.

Be persuaded, therefore, good Christians, to leave your friends this comfortable legacy, when you die : namely, the comfort, the sure and certain hope, that you are going to a place of rest, and peace, and happiness, where you will be out of the reach of trouble, of temptations, and of danger, and out of a possibility of displeasing God any more.

This we hope, we are verily persuaded, is the case of our departed sister and friend; for we may very truly reason, as

the wife of Manoah did with her husband, when he cried out Judges 13. for fear, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”

“If the Lord,” said she, “were pleased to kill us, He would
not have received a burnt-offering at our hands, neither
would He have shewed us all these things,” all these favours.

Even so we reason : if God gives His children grace to
hearken to those that are ordained to instruct them; if He
opens their ear to discipline, and they are obedient to the
heavenly call; if He gives them opportunities of doing good
in their generation, and grace to make use of them; if they


submit to His fatherly chastisements, and are bettered by them, as becomes the dutiful children of so good and kind a Father. All these are sure grounds for a Christian to hope that these graces have not been given in vain ; but that God designs, and will crown them with pardon, favour, and happiness eternal.

This, we say, is the comfort of all God's servants, whether of those that die, or of those that lament the loss of their dear friends.

On the other hand; with what a sad and heavy heart must they leave the world, who, looking back, can see nothing in their whole life, but what must render them unworthy of the mercy of God; who have lived an idle, useless, careless life, and are cut off in their sins; who are going to appear before a Judge, whose laws they have broken, whose graces and favours they have set at nought; who have done little or no good in their generation.

What sorrowful dying thoughts must such people have ! what little comfort and hope will their surviving friends have !

But this is a subject too foreign and too mournful to be insisted on, upon this occasion. I only hint it, that such as have any degree of seriousness may think in time, and to some good purpose, what an ill-spent life must end in.

As to our sister and friend, we hope, and we believe, that none of the graces which God vouchsafed her, were lost upon her; that she died in the true faith and fear of God, after a well-spent life; that she is gone to appear before a Judge, whom she endeavoured, by a sober and useful life, to make her friend; and that she is happier, where she now is, than ever she was in this world.

May we all bless God for such good examples, and endeavour to imitate them, that we may one day meet in the paradise of God, and be made partakers of a blessed resurrection, for the Lord Jesus' sake. To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and for SERMON XCVIII.







John xvii. 4.

I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do. These are some of the last words of our blessed Saviour, and spoken just before He laid down His life for us. As He was man, He had a work given Him by God to do, and to finish, before He should leave this world.

It was to make known the will of God to fallen man, that God would be reconciled to men upon certain conditions, which He had declared to them. And especially He was to make known to them, that God would call all men to an account, and adjudge them to happiness or misery, according to the works done in the body. This work our Lord declares He had finished; and makes it the subject of His rejoicing before His death.

Now, although the best of men come infinitely short of this pattern, yet every Christian is bound, at the peril of his soul, to strive to come up to it; that is, to do his duty in that state of life unto which it shall please God to call him.

And yet this is a matter so seldom laid to heart, at least 80 seriously as it ought to be, that most people look upon their time as their own, to be disposed of as they please; and that they are at liberty to choose what work pleases themselves, not what the providence of God had given them to do.

So that the account men are to give of the work they have done, is too often the least and last of their thoughts. And

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yet all Christians own, that upon this depends their everlasting happiness or misery.

And every Christian, as he hopes to die in peace, and in the favour of God, as he hopes for heaven, ought to live so, as that when he comes to die he may be able to say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do;" that is, according to the allowances made by our merciful God to human frailty, I have been doing my duty, the work which the providence of God appointed me. I was sensible of my own weakness, and therefore I always prayed for His grace and assistance, that I might do my duty so as to please Him. I found myself too often wanting to my duty; and as often as I did so, I begged His pardon, and endeavoured to amend where I had done amiss. And this has been my constant care.

Whoever cannot say something like this to himself when he comes to die, will certainly die either with a seared, or an uneasy conscience.

I do not say this, to terrify any sincere soul, who, though late, has repented of his unprofitable or idle way of living; and is now working out his salvation with fear and trembling. If his repentance be sincere, that is, if he is bringing forth fruits meet for repentance, answerable to amendment of life, he may comfort himself with the assurance of mercy, and pardon, and happiness.

But what I aim at is, to awaken such sinners as are manifestly in the way of perdition, and not to suffer them to go on without shewing them their danger and their ruin. Such, for instance, as never think of the account they are to give, never mind their salvation, put off their repentance and conversion from time to time, till it may be too late to do them any good.

Now, the way I would take to awaken such sinners into a sense of their danger, is this: I would endeavour to convince, (and may the grace of God make my endeavours effectual !) I would, I say, endeavour to convince you and myself, of the real danger every Christian is in, who is not actually doing the work which God has given him to do.

And this we shall see very plainly, if we will but consider these following truths: that all mankind are under the sen

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SERM. tence of certain death, ready to be executed at an hour we XCVIII.

know not of; that this short and uncertain time allowed us, betwixt the sentence and execution, is to determine our condition to all eternity; because during this time, we have a

work appointed us to finish, which, if not done, we shall be (Matt. 13., treated as wicked, unprofitable servants; that is, “ We shall 42; 25. 30.]

be cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”

Now, can any Christian, who believes these truths, (and they are as certain as that God is true,) can any Christian think of these things, and not resolve thus with himself: * By the grace of God I will endeavour to know the work which God has given me to do; and I will set about it with all my might, lest death overtake me before I have finished it?'

Now, to help forward the meditation of every one who is thus disposed, and to open the eyes of such as are not, I will lay before you these following truths, in as plain a manner as I possibly can.

First; that every Christian has a work to do, and to finish, before he dies.

Secondly; that every minister of Christ has, besides the work that is common to all Christians, a very great work upon his hands, for which he is to give a most strict account.

Lastly; that both the one and the other must expect to meet with difficulties; but, however, this will not excuse them from that work which God has given them to finish, because their salvation depends upon it.


Since the fall of man, there is no salvation to be had, but by the Cross; by taking pains to make our peace with God,

and to get such holy dispositions as are absolutely necessary Phil. 2. 12. to fit us for heaven. “Work out your own salvation” (saith

the Apostle) “with fear and trembling.” This shews Christians very plainly, if they will believe the Spirit of God, that we have not only a work upon our hands, but a work that will make us very serious before we have finished it.

Let us take but a short sight of the particulars which we have to do. We naturally love the world, and we are


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