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Be frequent in prayer. It was a favourite exercise of your Lord, and with it his life was closed. Many have begun to pray at the approach of death. It hath wrung prayers from the lips of the proudest blasphemer; but we must give ourselves to prayer through life, if we wish to call on God with comfort when we die. Nothing will strengthen for duty, dispose for felicity, or prepare for affliction like prayer.
« Commit the keeping of your souls to God in well doing, as to a faithful Creator.” An indolent selfish devotion, which consults only its own indulgence, or which yields nothing but good words, and fair speeches, is an abomination in his sight. While your lips utter the voice of prayer, and your hearts feel the emotions of affectionate confidence, be active in good works. If the wicked are so eager and determined in the service of Satan, it will be most disgraceful to you, if you bea come languid and careless in the work of the Lord.
Anticipate death with the feelings which become Christians. How easy is that bed of death which hath the gracious promise of Jesus for its pillow, and how happy is the man to whom the grave is the house of a Father ! And if Jesus said, “ Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit,” amidst the severest agony of body and mind, you cannot pretend that you are in circumstances in which you cannot express it.
Your last throb, your last look, and your last words, are due, not to relatives, however valuable. The last throb of your hearts should be produced by love to Christ, and by a desire to be with him; your last look must be to his cross,
your last words should be, “ Lord Jesus re. ceive my spirit.”
Finally, Meditate on those prayers which he addresses to his Father in your behalf, “ Holy Father, keep through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me.” With such a protector none can harm you. • I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” With such a companion to soothe, and cheer you, you need fear no evil.
And this is the language in which he pleads for your admission to heaven, 4 Father I will that they whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am.” O blessed hope! Its influence shall make solitude pleasing, and death desirable. " And now, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified."
MATTH. XXVIII. 5.
“ And the angel answered, and said unto the women, Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.”
These are the words with which the angel calmed the minds of the pious women who had come to pay the last offices of respect to our Lord's body. When they beheld the consternation of the keepers, the glory of the heavenly messenger, and the tomb of Jesus open, they were filled with anxiety and dismay. While the Roman guards were left to the gloomy suggestions of their own minds, the angel addressed these disciples in language kind and animating; and the view
which he gives of their exercise, and the encouragement which he suggests to them, are admirably adapted for the instruction and comfort of the devout communicant.
These persons sought our Lord with affection. The love which we bear to our friends expresses itself in a variety of ways, after their departure. We mourn be. side their dust, feel a melancholy pleasure in the tender recollections which that spot cherishes, and anticipate the time when the same turf or stone shall cover us. These pious women came to our Saviour's tomb with costly spices and ointments, after the custom of the east, to anoint his body, and to scatter over the sepulchre. Their thoughts, their affection, and their happiness, had gone down with him to the grave; and the corse of their dearest friend had more power to attract them than all that the land of the living contained.
Christians, you seek not a dead, but a living Saviour. You seek him not in the house of silence, but in the temple which he fills with his glory. You have not come to cast a last look on his countenance, once so ainiable, but now sõ ghastly, or to anoint him with spices, but to beseech him to cause his face to shine upon you, and to receive “an unction from the Holy One.” You are influenced by pious attachment, I trust, in thus seeking him, and when you meet him, and hold him by the feet, or grasp the hem of his
garment, you will be able to say, “ Lord thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.”
Courage was conspicuous in the conduct of these disciples. They knew that the followers of our Lord were at that time the objects of suspicion, and had reason to dread the malice and power of his enemies, yet this did not deter them from shewing a deep in. terest in his fate. They knew also, that the tomb was surrounded by Roman soldiers, and it was probable, that instead of being allowed to pay their tribute of affection unmolested, they would be repulsed with rudeness and barbarity. Besides, the morning was only beginning to dawn, and they were much less likely to meet with protection from the ill-usage of the base, than if the day had been advanced. I may add, that there is something in the sight of a dead body, and of the interior of a sepulchre, which awakens feelings of horror; yet attachment raised them superior to these causes of fear, and steeled their hearts with courage.
You have not such dangers to brave in your duty ; but there are many things which require you to arm yourselves with their mind. The corruptions of the heart will throw obstacles in your way; and some have had to break through the opposition of friends and relatives in seeking Jesus, in places against which they were irritated by bigotry and prejudice, or in duties which impiety led them to contemn. Your spiritual enemies will try to seduce your hearts from the Saviour, by their allurements; and if these do not succeed, they will bring former sins to remembrance, to fill you with terror; they will suggest to your minds such thoughts as will harass or shock you, and alarm you with the idea of your eating and drinking damnation to yourselves; but none of these things must move you, and you must go on in the strength of the Lord God.
How zealous were these disciples! Many in their situation would have thought that they had sufficiently proved their zeal, by witnessing his crucifixion, where none of the apostles were present save John; that Joseph and Nicodemus had done the body of our Lord all necessary honour; and that, if more was requisite,
the disciples should come forward and shew their repentance for their base desertion. But instead of reasoning in this manner, they procured a large quan. tity of spices and ointments, and instead of waiting till the disciples came to accompany them, or till they were apprized that they might go forward in safety, when the Sabbath was ended, they set out with eagerness on this labour of love.
In this spirit you must seek the honour of your Lord. Imagine it not an excuse for sloth on your part, that others are careless. Shall your Master's honour lie in the dust, because those who should raise it put not forth their hands, and because those who should plead for it are silent ? This is an opportunity for you to show that you have another spirit in you, and that you are determined to follow the Lord fully.
You cannot imagine that sufficient honours are done to his name, or that sufficient efforts are made in his
That name is exalted above all blessing and praise, and that cause deserves the utmost energies of every creature.
Think not that amidst the acclamations of thousands, your hosannahs will be dispensed with, and that amidst the gold of the wealthy in his treasury he will not look for your mite, for he will make inquiry after the offering of the poor, and regard the sigh of the feeble minded.
These disciples sought him with sorrow. Memory was employed in setting before them the excellencies of the friend they had lost, and the sufferings in which he had expired, and, forgetting his promises of his re. surrection, they said in the despondency of their hearts, « I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living." They had spent a mournful Sabbath; and during the two dreadful nights which had passed since Jesus died, they had watered their couch with