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“I adore thee, () thou God of all grace, if while I am thus speaking to thee, I feel the love of thy creatures arising in my soul; if I feel my heart opening to embrace my brethren of mankind! Oh make me thy faithful almoner, in distributing to them all that thou hast lodged in mine hand for their relief! And in determining what is my own share, may I hold the balance with an equal hand, and judge impartially between myself and them! The proportion thou allowest, may.I thank. fully take to myself, and those who are immediately mine! The rest may I distribute with wisdom, and fidelity, and cheerfulness! Guide mine hand, () ever merciful Father, while thou dost me the honour to make me thine instrument in dealing out a few of thy bounties; that I may bestow them where they are most needed, and where they will answer the best end! And if it be thy gracious will, do thou multiply the seed sown*; prosper me in my worldly affairs, that I may have more to impart to them that need it; and thus lead me on to the region of everlasting plenty, and everlasting benevolence! There may I meet with many, to whom I have been an affectionate benefactor on earth; and if it be thy blessed will, with many, whom I have also been the means of conducting into the path to that blissful abode! There may they entertain me in their habitations of glory! And in time and eternity, do thou, Lord, accept the praise of all, through Jesus Christ ; at whose feet I would bow; and at whose feet after the most useful course, I would at last die, with as much humility as if I were then exerting the first act of faith upon him, and never had any opportunity, by one tribute of obedience and gratitude in the services of life, to approve its sincerity!"
* 2 Chron. ix, 10,
CHAP. XXIX. The Christian rejoicing in the Views of Death and Judgment. Death and Judgment are near; but the Christian has Reason to welcome
both: $. 1. Yet Nature recoils from the Solemnity of them, $. 2. An Attempt to reconcile the Mind, [1.] To the Prospect of Death, $. 3. From the Consideration, (1.) Of the many Evils that surround us in this mortal Life, g. 4. (2.) Of the Remainder of Sin which we feel within us, §. 5. And, (3.) Of the Happiness which is immediately to succeed Death, $, 6. 7. All which might make the Christian willwg to die in the most agreeable Circumstances of Human Life, §. 8. [II.] The Christian has Reason to rejoice in the Prospect of Judgment, §. 9. Since, however awful it be, Christ will then come, to vindicate his Honour, to display his Glory, and to triumph over his Enemies, $. 10. as also to complete the Happiness of every Believer, $. 11. and of the whole Church, $. 12, 13. The Meditation of a Christian whose Heart is warm with these Prospects.
W 8.1. W HEN the visions of the Lord were closing upon John, the beloved disciple, in the island of Patmos, it is observable, that he who gave him that revelation, even Jesus the faithful and true witness, concludes with those lively and important words : He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly : and John answered with the greatest readiness and pleasure, Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus* ! Come, as thou hast said, surely and quickly !-And remember, () christian, whoever you are that are now reading these words, your divine Lord speaks in the same language to you : Behold, I come quickly. Yes, very quickly will he come by death, to turn the key, to open the door of the grave for thine admittance thither, and to lead thee through it into the now unknown regions of the invisible world. Nor is it long before the judge who standeth at the doort, will appear also to the universal judgment: and though, perhaps, not only scores, but hundreds of years may lie between that period and the present moment, yet it is but a very small point of time to him, who at once views all the unmeasurable ages of a past and future eternity. A thousand years are with him but as one day, and one day as a thousand yearst. In both these senses then does he come quickly: and I trust, you can answer with a glad amen, that the warning is not terrible, or unpleasant to your ears; but rather, that his coming, his certain, his speedy coming, is the object of your delightful hope, and of your longing expectation.
* Rev. xxii. 20.
+ James v. 9.
1 2 Pet. iii, 8.
$. 2. I am sure it is reasonable it should be so ; and yet perhaps nature, fond of life, and unwilling to part with a long known abode, to enter on a state to which it is entirely a stranger, may recoil from the thoughts of dying; or struck with the awful pomp of an expiring and dissolving world, may look on the judgment-day with some mixture of terror. And therefore, my dear brother in the Lord, (for as such I can now esteem you,) I would reason with you a little on this head, and would intreat you to look more attentively on this solemn object, which will, I trust, grow less disagreeable to you, as it is more familiarly viewed. Nay, I hope, that instead of starting back from it, you will rather spring forward towards it with joy and delight.
$. 3. Think, () christian, when Christ comes to call you away by death, he comes to set you at liberty from your present sorrows, to deliver you from your struggles with remaining corruption, and to receive you to dwell with bimself in complete holiness and joy. You shall be absent from the body, and be present with the Lord*.
§. 4. He will indeed call you away from this world. But Oh, what is this world, that you should be fond of it, and cling to it with so much eagerness? How low are all those enjoyments that are peculiar to it; and how many its vexations, its snares, and its sorrows ? Review your pilgrimage thus far; and though you must acknowledge, that goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your lifet, yet has not that very mercy itself planted some thorns in your paths, and given you some wise and necessary, yet painful intimations, that this is not your restf! Review the moments of your withered joys, of your blasted hopes; if there be yet any monuments of them remaining more than a mournful remembrance they have left behind in your afflicted heart. Look upon the graves that have swallowed up many of your dearest and most amiable friends, perhaps in the very bloom of life, and in the greatest intimacy of your converse with them; and reflect, that if you hold it out a few years more, death will renew its conquests at your expence, and devour the most precious of those that yet survive. View the living, as well as the dead : behold the state of human nature, under the many grievous marks of its apostacy from God; and say, whether a wise and good man would wish to continue always here. Methinks were I myself secure from being reached by
* 2 Cor. v. 8.
I Mich. ï. 10.
+ Psal. xxiii, 6.
any of the arrows that fly around me, I could not but mourn, to see the wounds that are given by them, and to hear the groans of those that are continually falling under them. The diseases and calamities of mankind are so many, and (which is most grievous of all) the distempers of their minds are so various, and so threatening, that the world appears almost like an hospital: and a man, whose heart is tender, is ready to feel his spirits broken as he walks through it, and surveys the sad scene; especially when he sees how little he can do for the recovery of those whom he pities. Are you a christian, and does it not pierce your heart to see how human nature is sunk in vice, and in shame? to see, with what amazing insolence some are making themselves openly vile ; and how the name of Christ is dishonoured by too many that call themselves his people ? to see the unlawful deeds and filthy practices of them that live ungodly, and to behold, at the same time, the infirmities at least, and irregularities of those, concerning whom we have better hopes? And do you not wish to escape from such a world, where a righteous and compassionate soul must be vexed from day to day by so many spectacles of sin and misery* ?
. 5. Yea, to come nearer home, do you not feel something within you, which you long to quit, and which would imbitter even paradise itself? Something which, were it to continue, would grieve and distress you even in the society of the blessed ? Do you not feel a remainder of indwelling sin; the sad consequence of the original revolt of our nature from God? Are you not struggling every day with some residue of corruption, or at least mourning on account of the weakness of your graces? Do you not often find your spirits dull and languid, when you would desire to raise them to the greatest fervour in the service of God? Do you not find your hearts too often insensible of the richest instances of his love, and your hands feeble in his service, even when to will is present with yout? Does not your life, in its best days and hours, appear a low unprofitable thing, when compared with what you are sensible it ought to be, and with what you wish that it were ? Are you not frequently, as it were, stretching the pinions of the mind, and saying, Oh that I had wings like a dove, that I might fly away and be at resti!
§. 6. Should you not then rejoice in the thought, that Jesus comes to deliver you from these complaints ? That he comes to answer your wishes, and to fulfil the largest desires of your hearts, those desires that he himself has inspired ? That he * 2 Pet. ii. 8. + Rom. vii. 18.
| Psal. lv. 6.
comes to open upon you a world of purity and joy, of active, exalted, and unwearied services ?
$. 7. () christian, how often have you cast a longing eye towards those happy shores, and wished to pass the sea, the boisterous, unpleasant, dangerous sea, that separates you from them? When your Lord has condescended to make you a short visit in his ordinances on earth, how have you blest the time and the place, and pronounced it, amidst many other disadvantages of situation, to be the very gate of heaven* ? And is it so delightful to behold this gate, and will it not be much more so to enter into it? Is it so delightful to receive the visits of Jesus for an hour, and will it not be infinitely more so to dwell with him for ever? “ Lord,” may you well say, “ when I dwell with thee, I shall dwell in holiness, for thou thyself art holiness; I shall dwell in love, for thou thyself art love ; I shall dwell in joy, for thou art the fountain of joy, as thou art in the Futher, and the Father in theet. Bid welcome to his approach therefore, to take you at your word, and to fulfil to you that saying of his, on which your soul has so often rested with heavenly peace and pleasure; Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given mef.
§. 8. Surely you may say in this view, “ The sooner Christ comes, the better.” What though the residue of your days be cut off in the midst? What though you leave many expected pleasures in life untasted, and many schemes unaccomplished ? Is it not enough, that what is taken from a mortal life shall be added to a glorious eternity ; and that you shall spend those days and years in the presence and service of Christ in heaven, which you might otherwise have spent with him, and for him, in the imperfect enjoyments and labours on earth ?
$.9. But your prospects reach, not only beyond death, but beyond the separate state. For with regard to his final appearance to judgment our Lord says, “ Surely I come quickly," in the sense illustrated before: and so it will appear to us if we compare this interval of time with the blissful eternity which is to succeed it; and probably, if we compare it with those ages which have already passed, since the sun began to measure out to earth its days and its years. And will you not here also sing your part in the joyful anthem. Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus !
Gen. xxviii, 17.
1 Joha xvä. 24.
+ John xvii. 21.