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After the Service.
When Hezekiah received the message from God by the prophet, “ Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live," he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and wept sore. The approach of death has made the mighty cowards, and watered the bed of state with tears. Eminent as he was for piety, he shuddered at the thought of death. But the prose pect which made your Redeemer offer up strong crying with tears was much more dismal than his. To Hezekiah death was to come in the form of disease, as the common lot of mortals, as the instrument of hape piness, and amid all the alleviations which power or wealth could impart ; but to Jesus it came loaded with all the vengeance of the curse, and amidst the agony and shame of the cross. Hezekiah's prayer was answered in the addition of fifteen years to his life, and that of our Lord in length of days for ever and ever. You have seen him crushed by anguish, behold him now in paradise, the region of delight; on the throne, the seat of empire; and in his Father's bosom, the place of infinite tenderness and everlasting rest. He reinembers every circumstance in the scene of sorrow, and that heightens his enjoyment. Eternity opens before him a boundless prospect of glory and felicity.
There are some at the communion table to whom Je. sus is now saying, “ Why weepest thou ?” When the king of Persia said to Nehemiah, “Why is thy countenance sad?” he was sore afraid. Haughty and unfeeling despotism deems the face of sorrow a reproach to its power; but Jesus asks the cause of your tears that he may remove it. You say that it is conscious guilt that troubles you, but if you have been washing his feet with your tears, to you he saith, “ Thy sins are for given thee; go in peace.” Let those who are hape py in their Saviour maintain a holy caution. Beware of forming too flattering expectations of human life. From the mount of communion you behold all around you bright with sunshine, but the clouds will return, Afflictions will try your patience, and temptations your faith. Disappointments will try your spirituality of mind, and desertion your hope in God, and I call on you to prepare for these. Our Lord's days on earth were not days of ease and indulgence, and can you expect yours to be so ?
Pray without ceasing, and pray as Jesus did. Think how Jacob wept, and made supplication at Bethel, and how as a prince he had power with God, and prevailed. Let yours be the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man, which availeth much. Guard against every thing which may deprive you of the seasons, or indispose you for the duty of prayer. And despair not of an answer to prayer, for “ in due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.” You have an advocate with the Father, who will enforce your petitions, and if his prayers were prevalent on earth, they cannot fail in heaven. This is the character which God gives his people, “my suppliants;" and beware lest, by your nee glect of prayer, or your carelessness in it, you forfeit your claim to this appellation.
Rejoice that in the heavenly state Jesus “ still remembers his tears, his agonies, and cries," and though no friend on earth should remain to join his voice with your prayer, or to mingle his tears with yours, you can look up to one in heaven who is touched with the feels ing of your infirmities, and “ who suffered, being
tempted, that he might know how to succour them that are tempted." He delights to wipe the streaming eye, and to still the quaking heart. Confide in him in the worst season. In the midnight hour consider that God dwells in the thick darkness, and in the wildest tumults of the storm, that his way is in the whirlwind, and that he sits on the floods. And shew that the scenes of sorrow through which you have passed have taught you promptitude in mercy. You have been in the house of mourning, let the widow see that you know her heart, and the orphan that his loss is yours. Have you had affliction on your bodies, or temptations in your souls, let the sick and the tempted have as much as possible of your care. In studying the sympathy of our Lord, you must labour not only to catch its tones of tenderness, and its looks of pity, but to imitate its gifts and deeds of mercy.
Live in the fear of God. Did Jesus fear, and shall we have none? The frivolous and the giddy see nothing attracting in this principle: They say there can be no beauty in the sadness of the countenance, and no pleasure in the tremour of the heart; but it gives to the manner all the
grace of modesty, and to the soul a calm and solid satisfaction. Its aspect is grave, and when it looks on folly it is with a frown, but its heart is true. Fear in Jesus was not attended with the misgivings of unbelief and of conscious guilt: though he took on him the form of a servant, he had not the spirit of a slave ; and the temper of a son was apparent in all the tasks which he performed, and in all the sufferings which he bore. Cultivate this filial fear, and in reli. gious worship it will keep you from levity and formali
your recreations from folly and excess, and in the business of the world from every fraud. In company it will preserve you from that fear of man which suffers profanity to go on unchecked, and from that fri. volity which will degrade your profession. In adversity it will render you still, and in prosperity it will make you dependent on God, and humble to man.
Beware of forming harsh conclusions about the piety of those who are afraid of death. It is not every saint who can defy the last enemy. When death stands by thy bed-side, lays his cold hand on thine, and ore ders thee to come away, thou wilt then find what a sea rious thing it is to die. But cry to God, and from his throne strength will come to the bed of languishing, and a ray shall descend on the dark vale. He will remove, or at least mitigate your terrors. You are saved from sin, from the world, and from hell already, and to this list of deliverances salvation from death shall be added. Take heed lest by folly, or negligence, or any criminal act, you call up remorse to aggravate the horrors of the last hour. Give all diligence, by the constant exercise of every Christian grace, to make your calling and
your election sure, and " so there shall be administered to you an abundant entrance into the everlast ing kingdom of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Then
you will have no calamity to weep over, no evil to dread, and no want to be supplied. The sentence which shall answer all your prayers, terminate all your sorrows, and reward all your services, shall then be pronounced on you, and shall call you as good and faithful servants to share in your Saviour's resto
6 To me to live is Christ."
In these few words, the piety, which is formed and animated by the spirit of the gospel, is expressed in a most apt and striking manner. Though this profession was made to men, it was uttered under the most som Jemn impressions of his presence who searches all hearts; and the apostle might appeal to his conduct as furnishing the fullest evidence that it was not the boast of hypocrisy. To him life was valuable, from the opportunities which it afforded for advancing the cause, and exemplifying the spirit of his Master; and in every theme, and in every labour, Christ wag all.
He states this not in the spirit of vain glory, but that the disciples might see that he enjoined no devot. edness to the Redeemer which it was not his wish and his study to maintain. There were many things peculiar in the pious attainments of Paul, yet the language which he here employs may be considered as descrip tive of the character and aim of every disciple of Jesus, and there is not one whose supreme desire it is not to. live and to die to the Lord.
The grace of Christ is the principle of the believer's life. It is this that quickens the dead soul, which maintains the spiritual life, animates all its graces with vigour, and guards it from the influence by which it might be enfeebled or destroyed. The permanence and